The Deal Mommy

Camp Mom Needs Your Help

Happy New Year! If you’re like me, you’re using the calendar turn as a kick start to nailing down 2019 travel plans. Due to, well, life, I’m way behind where I’d like to be. Which leads me to you. I’ve realized that Camp Mom summer 2019 is coming up much quicker than I expected. If it’s hitting you, too, I hope my thought processes will help.

What’s Camp Mom Again?

In case you’re not familiar, Camp Mom is my plan to substitute day camp for extended family travel. It makes “what I did on my summer vacation” so much more interesting than a day camp could ever be.

We tack Camp Mom onto our family trip. After two weeks Deal Dad (and this time Deal Kid) go home and Deal Girl and I extend our travels. Getting to and from is the same price no matter how long you stay, so with miles and points I can usually keep the cost of Camp Mom equal or less than camp would have cost.

The first three Camp Moms have been to Europe:

Deal Girl enjoys Tea on the Titanic, June 2013


Hanging out with Goofy, Tokyo DisneySea.

and South America:

Our Colonia hearth, Uruguay

Camp Mom 2019: Big Picture

We utilized the recent Iberia 90,000 bonus miles promotion twice to earn enough miles for four round-trip tickets to Spain in premium economy. I decided we didn’t need lie-flat after being reasonably comfortable overnight in Copa’s version of business class to Chile. Spain is a lot closer than Chile so we’ll be fine.

Deal Dad and Deal Kid are staying for the first two weeks. Deal Dad has requested we spend the time in Spain and Portugal. After they fly back, Deal Girl and I have three free weeks to bounce around Europe before flying home from Barcelona.

Part One: Spain and Portugal

We know we want to spend at least one week in Portugal and the remainder in Southern Spain. I think I’ve limited the trip to Lisbon and south due to only having two weeks. The only things that are firm are visiting Sevilla, Grenada, Ronda, Gilbratar, and Baelo Claudia.  In other words, we’ll probably base in Marbella or nearby. In Baelo Claudia I want to recreate my single favorite photo of Deal Kid. At almost 16, he’s thrilled #sarcasm.

Baelo Claudia
Baelo Claudia, Spain 2005

Because we’re a group of four, I’ve pretty much given up on hotel stays for the first two weeks. Even with my tips I’m having trouble finding any rooms that are rated for four. I’d love some ideas for towns in Portugal that might make a good base. If you’ve got insight on Lisbon as well, please let me know which neighborhoods make sense.

Part Two: ????

Here’s where I’m drawing a blank. Deal Girl and I have three weeks open to play around in Europe. I can actually stay in hotels if I want to since it’s just the two of us.

The only thing Deal Girl has requested is Disneyland Paris, which is maybe three days including transit. Ok, four if you count visiting my favorite store. If you have suggestions about where to stay near Disneyland Paris, please let me know.

The first few days of July we have friends tooling around France and it would be great for Deal Girl to have companions her age. So let’s block out one week for France.

I’ve only scheduled a day or so for Barcelona at the end of the trip. My thought process is that we’ll be pretty toured out by that time and I’m not sure how much we’d enjoy the crowds. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

This gives me two weeks free. I think I’ve decided on Malta for one of them. I picked Malta for two reasons. 1) it’s been on my list for a long time and 2) there’s a Category 5 Westin that is a good value for my remaining 7 night certificate.

Assuming I keep Malta, I’ve still got a week wide open. I’m overwhelmed with an embarrassment of riches. I know I want to keep to one destination so I can minimize transitions, and I’m thinking maybe somewhere we don’t need a car since I’m driving for two weeks at the start of the trip and one week at the end. Somewhere with a lot of character, and probably a second city, 

I know that’s not a lot, but thinking about the “what” as opposed to the “where’ really helps me narrow down the choices. Here’s a list I’ve developed over the years. I’d love to hear what else you use.

My List

  • Do I want an active trip or a restful one?
  • Urban, Rural, or a mix?
  • One destination or moving around?
  • Luxury or simplicity?
  • 1st World or 3rd?
  • Am I limited by the calendar?
  • By the climate or the seasons?
  • Is security an issue?
  • What is my cash budget?
  • What is miles/points budget?
  • Are there any sweet spots in my miles/points programs that fit the above criteria?
  • What about other promotions? (Skyauction, EVR, etc.)

As you can see, I haven’t worked all of these out yet. I have noticed that Europe has a bunch of hotels that seem priced really low on points versus what I would expect. If you’ve stayed at a steal, please let me know.

So in other words, I need your help! Please share what you’re up to this summer or any ideas for Europe with a 12 year old. I’m looking forward to hearing about your adventures.


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