Vacations are supposed to be a time to relax our tired minds and bodies, renew our spirits, and make pleasant memories. However, vacationing can be very expensive and exhausting. With a little preparation, you can save time, money, and headaches. Here are some useful tips we’ve discovered for our travels:

1. Pray about your budget and how to spend your vacation.

2. Plan a vacation budget.

3. Try to travel during the off season or when public school is in session if you can to avoid traffic, long lines, higher rates, etc.

4. Take time a few months before your scheduled vacation to research lodging, restaurants, tourist attractions of your destination that will fit within your budget. Visit websites for destinations and request free info, coupons, etc.

5. Visit websites for restaurants and search for coupons or club memberships. Many restaurants will email coupons to you for joining. To avoid lots of advertisements and email in your primary email, you can set up a secondary free email account for these.

6. I am the type of person, who likes to do very little during vacation. We stay so busy during the year that I truly just want to rest and enjoy quiet moments with my family. However, if you enjoy lots of activities, make an itinerary ahead of time taking into consideration the location of attractions. Consider doing more than one activity in a day if time permits and if they are in the same area. Many times there is a discount rate for packages combining activities. This will also save on your gas bill.

7. Begin watching sale ads for healthy convenience foods and beverages and stock up before your trip.

8. If you are on a really tight budget, plan to take a cooler with some of your favorite cheeses, fruits, and veggies. You can snack on these and your favorite nuts or whole wheat crackers instead of purchasing lots of big meals. This also cuts down on travel time because these are easy on-the-go foods.

9. About a week prior to your trip, make a packing list for yourself and your family. As you have moments of free time, begin to pack things you only need for the trip. Check them off as you pack them.

10. Purchase empty travel bottles from your local dollar store. You can fill these with your favorite toiletries. I keep ours packed in a travel bag in our linen closet and just refill as needed for trips.

11. As you do laundry before your trip, remove items from the dryer and pack them in your suitcase rather than putting them in the drawer or closet and then taking them back out to pack. (This is one of my favorite tips because I detest doing laundry!)

12. Give each child a bag for things to do in the car and have them help you pack it with crayons, color books, crossword puzzles, cards, travel games, books, stickers, note pads, etc. You can purchase many of these items at a dollar store, and you can even browse the web for free printable activity and coloring pages.  We took school work on our recent 8 hour drive to Orlando.  Even the children admitted the travel time flew by while working on their school work and they were thankful for it!

13. As you know, I am a planner. It is my nature to be prepared for every scenario. Be sure to pack a first aid kit, thermometer, fever reducer, tummy medicine, an extra set of clothes and under garments (if you don’t have access to a free washer). You don’t want to have to purchase any of these types of items while you are vacationing. The prices in many destinations and tourist areas tend to be higher than home.

Bon Voyage!

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