Summer Vacation Planning Tips

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These summer vacation planning tips are here to guide you, step by step, right through that process. So grab your calendar, get an idea of your budget, and let’s go!

Summer Vacation Planning Tips

What? You haven’t planned any blockbuster summer travels yet? No worries! It is definitely not too late to plan a summer vacation!

Summer Vacation Planning Tips

1. Time

First, how many days would you like to vacation and how many days can you realistically vacation? Take a look at your and your spouse’s work schedule to see how many days you can take off to travel. Also make note of activities or camps that are already on the calendar.

2. Money

Next, take a look at your bank account and budget and see how much money you want to spend on a vacation. There are very few vacations out there worth going into debt for, so think about how much you have to spend right now as opposed to using credit.

3. Choices

Now that you know how many days are free and how much you can spend, think about your options.

For those with more time and more money, it is not too late to consider a cruise or another type of all-inclusive vacation. Cruises often offer discounts to those booking later, as they want to fill the boats. Many all inclusive vacation spots like Beaches, do increase their prices as it gets closer to a vacation date, yet some also want to fill the properties as it gets really close to the dates. So, depending upon how flexible you can be, you still might be able to land a great deal on a cruise or an all-inclusive vacation at Beaches, Club Med or the like.

Three boys in airplane seats working on projects.

Do you have just a few days of vacation time and not as much in the budget? Adding just a day or three to a weekend can still yield a great getaway. And there are still several great airfares out there to be had, especially from a carrier like Southwest who doesn’t charge checked baggage fees for 2 bags per ticket and offers free snacks on flights.

Most airfare search engines do not include Southwest in their searches, so be sure to visit Southwest’s site separately. Also, when searching flights, many search engines and airline sights will allow you to check a box indicating you are flexible on your dates. I once moved a trip by one day to save $400 on one ticket, so check that box if you can.

You don’t have to fly to get to vacation fun, so think about places near you that you can drive to, as well. My kids look forward to road trips and have requested one for this summer. (I think they enjoy the extended time allowed for video games and movie watching that happens on a road trip. If that makes summer more fun for them, I am planning to do my best to make that happen!)

Take out an old-fashioned map and take a look at what is within your driving threshold. Is there a beach, lake or mountain nearby that you can explore? Have you visited your state Capitol building? Are there any other historical sites you could visit and learn in the process? (Most historical sites have become much more interactive in the last 15 years.)

Or would you like to take in a baseball game (major or minor league) or another event? I had to leave a vacation early one year and my husband took our boys to a demolition derby while I was gone, which was something they had never witnessed… and they loved it!

Looking for some ideas? Scroll though MomsTravelTales Destination Snapshots to see if any featured destinations are near you, or if they spark your memory of something else to try.

Summer vacation can mean a grand trip to Europe for 10 days, one or two weekend trips to somewhere nearby, and it can mean anything in between. It can also mean camping in the backyard or in your living room under tents made of sheets or any other type of staycation.

The trick to any summer vacation is how you look at it. Are you ready to have fun with your kids and get in lots of giggles? Then shift your mind into vacation mode no matter where you are and take it all in.

So…. what will you do this summer? Get out that calendar, get planning and make the summer of 2012 a blast for your family!

Tell us a few of your favorite summer vacation memories as a child to get our creative planning juices flowing.

Amy is the Mom behind both Mom’s Travel Tales and Mom’s Toolbox. She is a world traveler — in heart, body, and prayer. She regularly hosts the Bible in 90 Days read-along. A mother of three young children, Amy writes to equip moms with tools for success whether at home or abroad.

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  1. Love the tips! Our preferred method of vacation is a cabin or something like that where we can cook ourselves. I’m still in the process of planning a short vacation for late summer, so I loved reading your tips.

    1. I’m glad you like my tips! Thanks!

      Cabin camping is my favorite type of camping… I hope you find a great adventure this summer.

  2. We had a wonderful staycation in our backyard this weekend. We camped out in a tent, grilled hotdogs, hamburgers and corn, played Night at the Museum with flashlights, roasted marshmallows and made smores. I stopped by Dollar Tree and picked up glow necklaces and bracelets which were a big hit, plus an extra flashlight so everyone had their own. We had so much fun and the kids can’t wait to do it again.

    1. What a fantastic idea!
      I bet y’all had a blast! 🙂

  3. We don’t have any school age kids so it isn’t as important to have a SUMMER vacation and we took a big trip in March. Even with that though, it’s hard to resist the lure, so we nailed down three weekends on the summer calender to go camping. We’re going to have to go to a campsite with no running water in order to keep it in budget, but it will be fun. 🙂

    I totally agree with the order of your steps, dates first, budget next, location last. With lots more time (a year-ish) you can do budget first, location next, and dates last. OR location, budget, and then dates.

  4. One of my favorite places we visited, when I was a kid, was the Redwood Forest in California. I will never forget how ginormous those trees were. I can’t wait to bring my kids there!

    1. Those trees are AMAZING!!!
      I need to take my kids there, too! 🙂
      Thanks for the idea!

  5. Great tips thanks for sharing. Every summer we plan on going to Maine but never end up going because its too pricey. so we decided to take a trip to the city where my mom lives. we will bunk with her for six days and get up early to explore Times Square. We are so excited. I hear they also have a spa castle with a resonable price that is for the whole family. It’s in the area where I grew up in how awesome is that:) That last biggest fam vacation we had was Disney. That was back in 2010 we had a blast. Can’t wait to do it again next year.

  6. Hey Jessica,
    We are planning a trip to Sea World and I was wondering if you could reccommend any where to stay (Hotels/Motels) around the area or even close to the San Diego Zoo? I feel like I can’t even trust reviews these days so any help you can offer would be great. Thanks

  7. We have friends who let us use their time share each year. We would not be able to vacation away if it were not for this. We choose one within driving distance and bring our own food for the most part. It is just my husband and I now, so there is less planning. This September we are going to Ocean City, Maryland .

  8. This isn’t a favorite childhood memory – but let me share my excitement about our upcoming vacation, which I hope will make some great memories for my children!
    With all of our immediate family living anywhere from a 3-12 hour drive or a cross-country flight away, many of our travels are to see them. We usually make a cross-country trip every other year, and keep our plans modest on the summers we don’t travel (to save up for costlier trips). These are great opportunities to make fun memories, but a lot of the time it’s about special events/activities (a movie with the grands, a wedding, checking out the new children’s museum/pool/etc, and doing touristy things) and not as much about just spending time together, away from the busy-ness and distraction of ‘normal’ life.
    I am so excited that we are taking a ‘just the four of us’ vacation this summer! Don’t get me wrong – we love visiting our families, and are lucky to have them to visit – but this year has been especially busy, so I’m looking forward to the down time.
    This is the year that our budget is smaller, so it was pretty simple for me to figure out that camping was the best choice. A week of renting a campsite is less than the cost of two nights in a modest hotel. We will use our regular grocery budget for our meals – though I’ve picked up a few treats and convenience food as sales and the budget allow. We will pick up a few small items of camping gear to help make a longer trip easier (like a connector to attach our camp stove to a full-size propane tank instead of the tiny canisters), but we already own 99% of the gear that we need. And we’ll be spending less money on gas than in a typical week.
    We’re taking books to read, a few outdoor toys, and planning to spend some time creek stomping – I can’t wait!

    1. I love “just us” vacations! Never feel guilty about that!