How I Am Planning for a Summer Getaway During the Holiday Break

by on March 7th, 2015
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While finishing my Christmas shopping and finalizing a Christmas Dinner menu that will please both my vegetable loving dad and my meat loving husband, I am also in the initial planning stages of our Summer 2012 family vacation. My husband and I learned shortly after the birth of our first daughter that if we wanted to vacation each year, we’d better plan for it. Gone were the carefree newlywed days when my husband and I would decide on a whim that we could fly to Chicago for a weekend or drive to the casinos on the Mississippi Coast for a few days.

The Destination: Family vacation destinations are based on the distance factor and attractions. Traveling by air for a family of five is a great expense. Therefore, we choose destinations that are within a six to eight hour driving range. These can be reached easily in a single day’s drive during daylight hours. Destinations must also have something for everyone. Availability of an adventure park or water park is a key factor for my husband. My daughters and I like interesting museums with an interactive component.

The Summer 2012 family vacation spot winner is Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. After visiting the Oklahoma Convention and Visitor’s website. We were excited about the options that were available to us only 3 hours away from home. It should be a quick drive to spend a few relaxing days exploring the rich cultural history of Oklahoma City and its many museums and art districts. As for my husband, he will have the opportunity to spend an afternoon at the Frontier City Theme Park.

Scheduling: Now that we have a destination in mind, our next step is choose a time frame. Our vacations are scheduled in late July to early August when most hotels have dropped their rates after the summer rush. Also remember that family friendly hotels have higher rates with a Friday through Sunday schedule. We arrive on a Sunday and check out on a Thursday to get a lower rate. For a hotel catering to the business traveler, we arrive on Friday and check out on Sunday. While I won’t book the hotel until April 2012, I keep these tips in mind when booking online

Funding: Creating a livable savings plan for our vacation is the most important part of the process. The first step is to find a place to keep our savings that is remote from our current spending plan. I believe in the “out of sight, out of mind” principle of saving. As long as I don’t see this savings’ account each time I log on to pay bills, I don’t mentally add it to the money we have available. Automatic deductions work in much the same way. The amount being deducted fades into other deductions like insurance premiums and taxes.

Last year, I used a credit union in another state and had a certain amount automatically deducted from my paycheck. This was a fairly easy way to save each month, however it was more difficult than I liked to retrieve the funds when they were needed. This year, I have opened a savings account at a small local bank with minimum fees.

Realistically though, the vacation account is extra money that has to come from somewhere. After reviewing our current spending plan, I know that a lot money goes to the drive-through window. With our schedules and the schedules of our children, eating on the go is a fact of life. It costs on average $30.00 per meal at a fast food restaurant for a family of five. Using that $120.00 per month is a way to fund the vacation savings account and takes only one additional meal per week cooked at home. Of course the reasons that we eat out will remain the same. So I have started preparing and freezing an additional casserole on the weekends for those meals that no one has time to cook.

Even now in the full swing of the holiday spending frenzy, I am taking little steps to save that will last until we leave for our vacation in 2012. When asked what I want for Christmas by friends and family, I always reply that a gift card to a restaurant is fine. I store these cards for use on vacation. It is always a treat for us to stop for for a meal in family dining establishment rather than a fast food chain.

Saving for a vacation doesn’t have to be a chore. Take a few of the little steps that our family has been using for the last 10 years of vacationing on a budget and you will find that it can be done quickly and with little effort!

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