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How to Vacation S.M.A.R.T.

July 12, 2012

Family vacation has always been something that my family looks forward to.  Regrettably, some of our vacation experiences have been less than memorable because we were a little short on funds.  About ten years ago we went to Disney World with another family.  We had the brilliant idea that, in order to save lots of money on attraction tickets and get a few free meals, we would attend some of the time-share presentations.  We got the free tickets, but I can’t begin to tell you what a nightmare it was trying to fight off salesmen who just would not take no for an answer.  Add to that scene the drama of six screaming kids who wanted to go back to the hotel so they could go swimming!  In an effort to save you and your family valuable time, money and your sanity, here are some SMART tips for planning, affording and enjoying your next family vacation.

S = Save for your vacation – Your family vacation should not ruin your monthly budget.  So start planning a year in advance by adding a vacation savings to your monthly budget.  You can give the vacation savings a boost by allocating some or all of your tax refund or having a garage sale.  Get the kids involved by requiring them to save a portion of their allowance to use for spending money on the vacation.

M = Make it a family affair – Everyone needs to be involved in the planning phase.  That gives everybody something to look forward to and you can even delegate age-appropriate assignments.  We’ve discovered that not everyone wants to go to the zoo and botanical gardens so we get a list of attractions and everybody gets to do at least one or two things they enjoy.

A = Advance preparationPrior preparation prevents poor performance.  There are plenty of last-minute deals out there but don’t get suckered in when you have to take the entire family.  Planning ahead gets you cheaper rates and better selections.  Planning ahead also gives you time to research the best attractions and search out the most economical prices.

R = Be realistic – We really wanted to take our sons to the Bahamas this year.   After a little research, we soon discovered that this would not be the year for the Bahamas since passports alone were going to cost over $600.  When we added everything up we just couldn’t afford it this year.  There’s no reason to get to your dream destination and have to eat peanut butter and jelly and window shop.

T = Time is valuable – We only have one life to live so enjoy your time with your family while you have it.  Do not take your laptop on family vacation.  Do not check your e-mails every day.  And do not give your co-workers permission to call me if you need to.  One day our sons will have their own lives to live and I want them to have fond memories of the times we spent together as a family!

~Renita

How do you plan smart for family vacation?

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