• By Elizabeth Coots, Extension Agent

Family and Consumer Sciences: Planning for summer vacation

It’s time to start thinking about summer. This season is a great time to relax and spend time with family. One of the best ways to spend time with your family is during summer vacations, but planning for those can be expensive and time-consuming.

To begin planning for a summer vacation, it is important to make a budget. This will help you decide where to go, where to stay and how to get there. A budget can also provide you with a spending guideline once you reach your destination. Remember to account for credit and debit card purchases as well as cash expenditures. Decide on a reasonable budget number and stick with it. Keep track of all your transactions by saving receipts.

Once you have your budget, it is essential to start researching and planning. The internet is a great place to find information on any destination. You will be able to find attractions, hotels, air travel, maps, etc. When booking hotels and making plans, be sure to only use reliable sites.

You can also enlist a travel agent to help you plan a trip. Travel agents are professionals who help consumers find the best prices and places. Here are a couple of reasons travel agents are useful.

• Planning - Let them do the work. You can tell them where you want to go and what you want to do and let them work out the details. They can also tell you where or what is available within your budget. In addition, they receive daily updates on great places to visit.

• All-inclusive options – If you are looking for a getaway with everything included, travel agents will have that information easily available. The travel agent can book your trip so everything you expect to be included is, and you can enjoy yourself worry-free.

• Discounts and perks – Often, you receive discounts to attractions, rental cars and hotels when making reservations through a travel agency. Travel agents may have access to additional options not available to those planning their own trip. For example, when booking with a travel agent, you may receive free parking at theme parks, a discount at a gift shop or a voucher for eating at a specific restaurant.

• Tour books and maps - Certain travel agencies like AAA can provide wonderful tour books and maps, and if you are driving, they are willing to map out your route. When traveling, remember to pack efficiently. If you are flying, use the 3-1-1 guideline recommended by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration: three ounces or smaller bottles of a liquid must be placed in a one-quart clear bag, allowing one bag per traveler. Liquids larger than three ounces may not be taken on the plane. They must be packed in checked luggage or discarded.

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