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How to Plan a Top-Notch Vacation without Breaking the Bank

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You work hard most weeks of the year so when you have the opportunity to take time off, you want to fully enjoy that time exploring new places or completely relaxing with your family and friends. That said, you don’t want to come back from that time away to a pile of vacation bills that were much higher than anticipated. With a little planning, however, you can figure out how to plan a great vacation that everyone will enjoy without breaking the bank. Here are some tips on how to do it.

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Avoid flying. If you are taking the family on a getaway, airfare can be one of the greatest budget busters you’ll encounter. Even relatively short, common business routes like New York to Chicago are more than $300 these days, which means you’ll spend $1,200 for a family of four before you’ve even left your own home!

Try to think of a destination within driving distance that you haven’t yet explored, whether it’s a new city or a national monument. If you are really just looking to relax, even a short winter weekend at a nearby hotel with a pool and hot tub can be a fun trip for both you and the kids. An added benefit is that you won’t have to rent a car once you arrive at your destination!

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Be strategic about rewards programs. Traveling for work can be a drag at times when it keeps you away from home, but the good news is that most employers let you keep the rewards points you accrue for that travel. Make sure you sign up for various hotel chains’ and airlines’ programs and try to be consistent about which companies you stay or fly with.

Then, when it comes to book a trip for leisure, you’ll be able to keep costs down by using points or miles. Similarly, even if you don’t travel often for work, most credit card companies have great bonus offers and rewards partnerships that you might want to check out if you have a big trip on the horizon. As long as you use your credit card responsibly, racking up rewards with your everyday purchases could help lower the cost of your next vacation.

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Plan ahead. There’s no doubt that there are last minute travel bargains to be found online but if you are thinking of taking a big trip with the family, for example, you’re building an international itinerary or eyeing a two-week-long cruise, you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to get familiar with the trip you’re trying to plan. Talking to people who have planned a similar vacation will help you hone in on “must-sees” and avoid some tourist traps that are a waste of money. Plus, as you get familiar with what you want to do, you’ll start to get a feel for pricing and be able to spot a great booking opportunity when you see it.

Once you’ve done the work to make your vacation as affordable as possible, go ahead and enjoy it – the memories you build will be priceless!

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