Prepare Yourself Financially for Travel

July 10, 2010 by  
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The Eiffel tower at sunrise, taken from the Pl...
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In our modern society, travel is no longer a luxury, but it is considered a necessary part of having a healthy and meaningful life. Anyone with a dream of seeing the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France or Machu Picchu in Peru can find a way to reach that destination if he or she plans well enough and long enough.

Before a ticket is purchased or a reservation is made, the first thing a person must do is to begin to save money. Travel, whether by plane, train, or automobile, is not cheap. Even if there are no immediate plans for travel, a Travel Fund can and should be started right away. Depending on the number of people in your family and the type of destination you think you are likely to choose, begin to put a set amount of money aside each paycheck. If you are paid twice a month, a good amount to start might be $50 to $100 each paycheck. Begin to deduct the determined amount from your checking account register. “Deposit” your travel savings each paycheck onto a separate page for your Travel Fund so you not only know how much you have saved, but so it will not get mixed up with the money that normally goes for regular bills and living expenses. After one year of saving for a vacation, you could possibly have $1200 to $2400 saved. This is a good start to your goal of a carefree vacation with your loved ones

The next thing you need to do after you have started a Travel Fund is to begin to formulate a travel plan so a budget can be created. Pre-travel expenses to include in your travel budget might be passports, maps, and pet care. If your family plans to drive to their vacation destination, then budgetary considerations should be made for tolls, gasoline, hotels and food along the way. If flying is the preferred or necessary mode of travel, then airline tickets, cabs, or rental cars should be included on the travel budget. Arrival at the final destination will bring more expenses to include in the budget such as hotels, food, entrance to attractions and museums, transportation costs, and souvenirs.

By following these two important steps when preparing for a vacation, you will be able to truly relax knowing you have prepared yourself financially for the costly good times of taking a vacation with family and friends.

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Jennifer Tankersley is the creator of ListPlanIt where you can find over 400 lists and planning pages including your own Travel Fund and travel budgets, plus packing lists and itineraries, to put your world in order.

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How to Save Money on Last Minute Thanksgiving Flights

November 15, 2009 by  
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Thanksgiving is a holiday that’s best spent with family. For some of us, our extended families are just a stone’s throw away. For others, they’re across the state or across the country. If we want to see them during our short time off of work, we have to fly.

Flying during the holiday season can be an expensive proposition. And if you don’t plan your trip until the last minute, it can be difficult to even get a seat. But if you know a few tricks, there are spectacular deals to be had.

One thing that many travelers don’t think of is changing their dates of departure. This can make a huge difference in your fares. The day before Thanksgiving tends to be the most popular day for departure, so leaving two days ahead of time could possibly save you money. And if you’re willing to catch a flight on Thanksgiving Day, you could save big bucks since there won’t be many people flying. Fly back on the following Monday or Tuesday, and you could also save money on your return trip.

Another way you could save is by flying to a different airport. You’ll have to travel further by car to get to your destination, but if you can save enough money on your flight, it will be well worth the trouble. Just plan to land a little earlier than you would have at the closest airport, and you’ll still get to spend plenty of time with the family.

If you’re planning your trip just a week or two in advance, you could find a great deal through an online booking engine such as Lastminute.com. They help airlines book seats that would otherwise be empty, so they usually come at a significant discount. The biggest drawback is that you can’t be certain that you will be able to get a flight to where you want to go, but if you’re flexible there’s usually some way that you can make it to your destination.

The cost of the ticket itself can vary significantly, but it’s also important to consider fees. There are usually more fees charged when you buy through a third party than when you purchase your ticket directly from the airline. So make sure to read the fine print before completing a transaction online or through a travel agent. You’ll also have to pay an additional fee if you check a second bag in most cases, and that fee can be rather hefty.

Air travel during the holidays has a reputation for being expensive. But there are some ways you can save money. Keep these pointers in mind, and you could get a flight at a fraction of its normal cost!

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Stress-Free Holiday Road Travel Tips for the Whole Family

November 7, 2009 by  
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Phillips 66 Cottage-Style Filling Station - Ro...
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Some of us stay home for the holidays. Others make trips to see family and friends. But when you’ve got the kids in tow, road trips can become, well, rather unpleasant at times.

It’s not that we don’t enjoy spending time with our kids. In fact, just the opposite. It’s just that they get easily bored. And they get hungry – even more often on a long drive. And they need to stop at every rest area. (Well, most moms do too but I digress…)

But if you stop every time they want to stretch their legs or get a candy bar, you could add hours onto your trip. You may find yourself wondering why you didn’t just take a plane.

But road trips with the family don’t have to be an exercise in frustration. If you’re well prepared, they can actually be lots of fun. Here are some ideas to keep boredom and other things that make a road trip less pleasant at bay.

* Bring along plenty of snacks and drinks. But steer clear of chocolate, caffeine and sugar as much as possible, because these things can make already antsy kids even more hyperactive. Instead, pack some juice boxes, fresh fruits and veggies, crackers and other snacks that are healthy yet filling.

* Invest in a couple of travel games that the family can play together, or make up your own. These are great for keeping morale high and providing for quality time on long trips.

* Let each child bring a toy or individual game to play with. Most kids enjoy both group and individual activities at home, and they need both to keep them occupied and contented during a car trip. But be sure to place limits, because if you don’t, they’re likely to bring a whole bag full of stuff.

* If you have an infant, make sure to bring plenty of diapers, wipes, bottles and formula. Calculate how much of each item you will need, and bring about twice as much, just in case. Also, if any of your children take medication, be sure to bring an adequate supply.

* Bring something to put trash in. It’s surprising how many parents forget this. If you fail to do so, you’re just about guaranteed to end up with a car full of trash by the time the trip is over. Depending on the size of your family, you might need a grocery bag or a full-sized garbage bag.

* Be prepared for messes. If you have a mini car vac, it’s a good idea to bring it along. Other things you might need include wet wipes, paper towels, upholstery and carpet stain remover and glass cleaner.

* Ask kids if they need to use the restroom each time you stop at a restaurant or gas station. Otherwise, you might find yourself making lots of unscheduled rest stops.

Parents often consider holiday road trips necessary evils in which they must participate to get where they’re going. But if you plan ahead, the trip can be enjoyable for the whole family.

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Outdoor Adventures – great online resource

August 17, 2009 by  
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Julia's first family bike ride!!
Image by s_mestdagh via Flickr

We found a great online resource (thanks to Lynette of Blogging Starter Pack) for kids.

REI online has a Passport To Adventure page complete with a printable Adventure Journal, interactive map to find family friendly places for bike riding and hiking and prizes for participating.

Check it out at REI’s Passport to Adventure page here. Enjoy!

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