Vacations are back: Tips for making a trip affordable and simple to plan

Published 6:00 pm Sunday, March 4, 2012

(ARA) – Ask anyone within five feet of you whether they’d like to take a vacation, and you can bet every answer would be “yes.” But wanting to and doing are two very different things. People’s hectic schedules built on jobs, home and family life, and other social obligations, are often the cause of the desire to travel, but also the roadblock. Or, at least, the perceived roadblock.

Despite rising gas prices, millions of Americans are still planning to continue with their vacation plans this year. And if you think you’re too busy to go on vacation, you might want to think again. If you consider the benefits of a getaway – from reducing stress to reinvigorating your outlook to spending quality time with family – it might start feeling more important to you. And if you make it a priority, it won’t be long before you find yourself on that much-needed trip.

Planning a trip can feel daunting, but to get the start you need, follow these tips and visit

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1. Get out the calendar. The first step toward taking your dream vacation comes with taking a good, hard look at the calendar. Assume that there is no “perfect” date, but try to find a time that works best for everyone involved. You might need to make some adjustments or miss out on a thing or two back home, but remember that it won’t be the end of the world – and you’re likely to forget it once you’re away.

2. Crunch the numbers. Setting a travel budget has a couple of benefits. First, it saves stress. Going without a budget can lead to unchecked spending, which can lead to stressful feelings of not having enough money. Second, it sets parameters. If you know your budget, it’s easier to plan where you’ll go, for how long, where you’ll stay and, in some cases, what you’ll do.

3. Call in assistance. Putting all that work in the hands of a travel agent can simplify the process immeasurably. Coordinating every aspect of a vacation is not for the faint of heart. An agent can help you find the best deals, make the right connections and book a hotel that won’t give you nightmares. Talk to an agent about your dates, your budget and what you like to do, and they can plan a vacation to fulfill all of your travel goals. An agent might also have connections in the place you’re going to, giving you access to insider information on the best things to see and do. For more helpful tips from agents and other travelers, visit the National Plan a Vacation Week page at

4. Feed your excitement. Don’t fall into the trap of feeling guilty about going on vacation. Think of it as much-needed quality time with your loved ones, and an adventure you’ll never forget. In the months or weeks leading up to the trip, seek out books, TV shows and movies that are either about or set in your destination. It’ll help you feel more knowledgeable about where you’re headed and get everyone in your travel party excited about the trip.

There are some important things to remember about travel: You don’t have to be an expert, you don’t have to spend a fortune, and, above all, it really is possible. Give yourself the go-ahead to make plans, contact a travel agent and make your dream a reality.