Time to plan a summer vacation!

It’s January, and the doldrums are setting in. The decorations are put away, the parties are over, the extra pounds from holiday eating are uncomfortable. Football season is almost over; winter is looking like one, long, cold slog. The whole family is cooped up because of the weather.  Time to plan a summer vacation!

Anticipation is half the fun. What’s more, good planning–and far in advance–means you will have a smoother vacation when the time comes.

Start off with a brainstorming session. Explain to the kids that brainstorming means anyone can make any suggestion and no one will judge it. If someone proposes a trip to Mars, take it seriously. (Later on you can convince them to settle for Myrtle Beach.)

Once all the ideas have been aired and written down, you can begin to get an idea of what everyone wants out of a vacation. Your young Martian wants to do something new and adventurous. Your teenage daughter wants a “staycation” because she doesn’t want to be away from her boyfriend. Compromise between interplanetary exploration and staying home by choosing a new but nearby place that offers novel adventures; a campground that offers zip-lining and white-water rafting, for example. Make it close enough so that your daughter’s boyfriend can join you in some activities.

After zeroing in on the location, start the practical planning. If the kids clamor for a lot of extra activities, ask them if they are willing to tighten the family belt a little over the next few months. This kind of “buy-in” on the parts of your kids will almost guarantee a great vacation. Be sure to provide inspiration through lots of pictures on the internet or by picking up travel brochures.

Next, have the kids decide what they will need to take on the vacation. Some kids happily spend hours digging cans of bug spray out of the closet and hunting down batteries and fishing lures. Others may enjoy sorting through their summer wardrobes and planning what color toenail polish will look best. Things can be bought ahead of time and stored in a special place, adding to the sense of anticipation and the pride of good planning.

Planning ahead will definitely save money. Airline tickets are cheaper when they are bought in advance. If you plan to go a little before or after the “season”, you’ll save reams. Do Grandma and Grandpa live near Disney World? Do they have a spare room or two? If you are driving to your vacation location, check out gas rewards points at your local grocery. Saving where you can means more bang for your vacation bucks.

Don’t figure you’ll just put everything on the credit card. You’ll still be feeling the pain of that next January!

Planning a vacation with whole family buy-in makes for great memories. The mental journey is half the fun!







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