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A family vacation is a great way to unwind after a year of hard work and school.  Many people who are working to pay down debt and avoid the use of credit can no longer manage costly trips.  The good news is, with a bit of extra effort you can plan an affordable vacation that everyone in your family will enjoy and remember for years to come.   Here are a few tips and ideas to get you started:

 Do your budget.  Know how much you can afford to spend on a vacation by creating a vacation budget.  This will prevent you from turning to costly credit for expected vacation expenses and other situations that may come up. 

Plan in advance.  If you start your vacation research early you are more likely to find special offers and get reservations at popular destinations.  Turn the vacation planning into a fun activity for the whole family by choosing possible locations, the length of your stay, the travel route and activities for the family. 

Make a list of the items you will need for vacation. These may include swimsuits, sun block, groceries, ice chest, etc. Purchase these items before you leave so you can shop at large retail shops and grocery stores. Any item you purchase at a camp store, or souvenir shop will cost you more money than necessary.

Choose something close to home.   Look for a great location within 300 miles or less of your home.   The closer you are to home the less you will spend on travel expenses. Think about this: to travel 300 miles in a car averaging 25 mpg it will cost you $30.24 (at $2.52 a gallon). Round trip that is $60.48.

Check out vacation rentals.  Believe it or not, most money spent on vacations is on dining out.  You may be able to find a reasonable vacation rental and save a lot of money by preparing your own meals.

Go camping.  If you love outdoor adventures camping is a great option.  Kids also love camping because it is fun, exciting and they get to make new friends.  Camping is the most budget-conscious way to have a great family vacation.  Many campgrounds are equipped with restrooms, showers and other services.  Remember to bring a pocketful of change for the showers!

An affordable family vacation can be more fun and exciting than an expensive one. If you put some effort into the planning process, you can have a perfect vacation with your loved ones and share some unforgettable life experiences.

Some resources;  to search national state parks for recreational activities and make reservations for campsites nationwide.

Published Jun 11, 2009.