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5 Steps to Planning a Memorable Vacation

Believe it or not, the process of planning a vacation can be an enjoyable one. Even the part where you determine how to pay for it.

You read that right. Just figuring out how to pull off your next getaway gives you a sense of relief and control that makes the actual trip all the more fun. Here are five steps to making it happen:

1. Choose the top places you’d like to go.

On the surface, this may seem the easiest (and most fun) step of all. But it does bring with it some extra questions. Does the budget limit where you can go? Does your destination affect whether you plan it yourself or hire a travel agent? Drive or fly? Make sure to be clear on this one because the more you know, the better you can plan and the more expenses you can anticipate.

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2. Set a budget.

The vacation is the finish line. Here, you mark out the steps it takes to get there. Determine how much you want to spend on everything from hotels to gasoline to souvenirs and meals. If you decide something is too expensive, scale it back or cross it off the list. Get your plan in place so you know your plan of attack.

3. Look for deals.

You can find websites all over the internet that can help you score deals on hotels, amusement park tickets, airline travel and so on. Make sure you look for bargains after you set the budget for two reasons. First, once you know what you want to spend, you have a better idea of where you can save. Second, it’s a great morale boost to see that you are coming in under budget (once you have one) when you find a deal.

4. Work and save.

Here’s where the rubber meets the road. By working and saving up the money now, you won’t have to deal with payments or credit card interest rates after you come home. Remember that if you are pulling a double shift or taking freelance work. Find ways to creatively motivate yourself. A good way to do this is to print an image that is associated with your destination (such as a palm tree for the beach or a mountain for a ski trip) and divide it into sections. As you hit new savings totals, color in more of the picture.

5. Go and enjoy!

You have taken the proper steps and planned (and paid) for the trip before you get to this part. So once you have done the work, live it up! The work is done and the fun is just starting. The trip is not going to follow you home, so you can leave the beach at the beach. Few things stink more than paying for a vacation for months after it is over.

Does all that sound pretty simple? Absolutely. The reason more people don’t plan this way is because they want the instant gratification. They want to enjoy now and worry about how to pay later. That leads to overspending, and it creates headaches.

Instead, make a budget and have a plan. Vacations are meant to be enjoyed, not fussed over. With a plan you can do plenty of the former and none of the latter.

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