Vacations are important. They're good for your mind, body, and soul. They help you relax, unwind, and reflect. Whether you're camping in the mountains, heading across the ocean, or taking the family to an amusement park, the first thing you need to do is budget for it. Do you want to fly or drive? Do you have enough for a hotel room upgrade? A vacation budget will help you enjoy the trip, without having to constantly worry about your wallet.

1. Plan Ahead

  • Vote on where to go, and plan it out at least six months to a year in advance.

  • Research your chosen destination as best as you can.

  • Go on-line and read reviews for nearby hotels and restaurants.

  • Search for age appropriate activities, and learn about any blackout dates or weather restrictions.

2. Set Up a Savings Account

  • Determine when you will take your vacation, and then start depositing a certain amount of money into a savings account each month. Many cruise companies and amusement parks let you make a down payment to reserve your spot.

  • Use a credit card that offers travel perks or airline miles.

  • Consider using a tax refund to help finance the trip.

  • Get the kids involved by collecting loose change in a designated jar.

3. Make Technology Work for You

  • Check with a local travel agency and have them help plan the trip.

  • Sign up on-line for travel alerts or discounts.

  • Download a mobile application for your phone that can also send you a text message if there are airline price reductions or sales events.

  • Use an on-line vacation calculator to help you budget.

4. Be Frugal

  • Give each member of the family some 'mad money' to spend however they want.

  • When your money is gone, it's gone.Think twice about souvenirs, which are most likely more expensive than they need to be. If you really want something to remember your trip to the beach, write your name in the sand and take a few pictures. Or if you need something tangible, take home some seashells.

  • Go to hotels that offer a free continental breakfast and take advantage of it. It's one less meal you need to fund.

  • When it comes to saving money on meals, cruise ships are all-inclusive, and are still the most budget friendly family vacation of choice.

5. Be Prepared for the Unexpected

  • Read the fine print and be aware of additional fees. Parking at airports or cruise terminals can be as high as $18 per day.

  • Pack an emergency kit complete with first aid supplies, flares, extra clothing, and plenty of water.

  • Opt for travel insurance. It could literally save you thousands of dollars if you or a family member needed medical attention.

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