Budgeting For Your Family Vacation

May 21, 2008

How To Get That Family Vacation You Want

Summer is just around the corner and for many of us that means planning a vacation.   As you begin your planning, give careful consideration to how much you can afford and how you plan to pay for it.  Following are a few thoughts to consider:

Start with a budget.  Develop a list of all of the various expenses (lodging, travel, food & attractions) and determine how much each may cost.  Whenever possible, look for ways to cut those costs.  Once you determine a budget that is right for you, set rules about spending and stick to them!

Plan ahead.  If you plan to travel by plane, booking far enough in advance may allow you to use airline or credit card miles.   You may also be able to find packages that allow you to buy airline tickets and book your hotel at the same time at a reduced price.

Search for discounts and coupons.   Don’t be afraid the ask the hotels, car rentals and attractions to see if they offer special rates for various memberships or groups, such as, AARP for Seniors, Students, Military or AAA.  You may also be able to find discounts or coupons available online.

Consider staying with friends or relatives for free if that is an option.  If traveling in a large group, consider booking a vacation rental, which may offer more space and more amenities for potentially the same or lower price as a hotel.

Consider bringing and preparing your own meals whenever possible.  Many hotels or rental units’ offer built in kitchen amenities.

If you examine your budget and discover you can’t afford to get away this year you might consider putting aside some money for next year’s vacation on a monthly basis.

Bruce Helmer is the President and founder of Wealth Enhancement Group, a Minnesota-based financial planning firm with experts in the fields of financial planning, investment management, tax strategies, insurance, and estate planning. He hosts a weekly financial education radio show on stations throughout the upper Midwest and is the author of “Money and the People You Love.” To learn more, visit wealthenhancement.com