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6 Tips to Help Save For Your Family Vacation

budgeting life planning

Sure, there's a lot to do in Nashville, but we all need a break from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives - a vacation is a great way to do that.  Improperly planned, however,  and the trip may not generate the desired results and may negatively impact your ability to save for other important goals like retirement planning and education planning.   These six tips can help you save enough money to take that dream vacation your entire family will remember for years.

Get the Family On Board & Set Your Goal  

First, call a family meeting to let your family know you are planning a vacation. Explain what options you are looking at and some of the costs involved.  While you won't want to focus too much on the money aspect because that may result in your children having their sole focus on money on all of their lifetime decisions, but letting your family know the trade-offs will teach them to be balanced while setting certain behaviors .  It'll be much easier to convince everyone of staying in and having a board game night instead of going to the movies when everyone is excited about the upcoming trip to Disney. 

Set A Budget

Once you know in general how much you have to spend, you can decide the location of your trip.  Do you have the budget for Europe, the West Coast, or in-state?  Once you determine that, then you can get more granular on the details of your budget.  Determining how much for transportation (fly or drive?), housing, meals, and entertainment is critical to ensure you don't have to tap into your emergency fund, kids' education, or incur credit card debt to have a good vacation.  Start doing some research and involve other family members in the research.  A New York Times article referred to a study by the Journal in Applied Research in Quality of Life which indicated that the greatest amount of happiness was from planning the vacation and not the actual vacation itself.

Give Everyone an Opportunity to Contribute.

Once you set the budget, you can get other family members involved.  Children who receive an allowance can help fund your family holiday by donating a small portion of their allowance towards the trip. You can even encourage older kids to do odd jobs to earn money towards the trip, or setup a "family bank" for everyone to deposit extra change. Involving everyone in the savings process can help your children appreciate the vacation for its true value while continuing to teach them the benefits of a sacrifice and the value of a strong work ethic.

Decide What You Will Sacrifice.

When you want something, you often need to be willing to give something up to get it. So, as a family, decide what you are willing to forgo to afford the holiday. Will you stop eating out as much, or cut back on your cable bill? Again, getting the whole family to buy in on these choices in crucial to building excitement rather than resentment for the trip. These types of exercises are also great opportunities for teaching children about budgeting and saving. 

Plan Ahead and Look for Deals.

By properly planning, you may be able to save on airfare, hotels, and entertainment.  If airfare is your desired form of transportation, look to fly on off-dates, if possible.  Mid-week is usually the most cost-effective along with flying at odd hours.  But, do not discount the good old-fashioned road trip by driving if airfare is out of reach and if the drive is palatable. Some of a family's fondest memories are had in a station wagon , er, minivan.  Being patient in looking for hotel deals on popular sites can  yield savings, and options like Airbnb can be a better option cost-wise than that resort.  

Dine In

While part of the fun on going on vacation is going to new restaurants that you may not have available back home. But, dining out can get expensive for a week's worth of meals for the entire family.  If you do rent a place like through Airbnb, you will likely have the ability to dine in.  Make the cooking and dining in fun by switching off on who is involved in planning and preparing the meal. Plan ahead, however, so that you don't have to spend too much time at the grocery store.

With these and other tips, your family can grow closer together, learn the value of sacrifice, and enjoy some much needed relaxation.