Tips for planning summer vacation

By Reid Kanaley The Philadelphia Inquirer

Summer is coming, and many of us are planning vacations. Don’t cloud good memories you make by piling up vacation bills that take years to pay off. A little planning can keep you within budget.

Avoid the debt trap: “The ‘anything goes’ spirit that is so intoxicating during a trip can turn a little toxic afterward, when you’re home facing staggering credit card bills,” notes this post that we found at RealSimple.com. To avoid that trap, plan your vacation — where you’re going, how you’ll get there, and what you’ll do once you arrive. And then start setting aside the funds you’ll need. If your trip is to a foreign country, keep in mind that currency in that country might look to you like Monopoly money, and that you’ll be tempted to spend as if it is. The article, which RealSimple.com says is originally from Learnvest.com, has other ideas for spending less on food and souvenirs, and also suggests leaving home with room in your suitcase for the stuff you might buy along the way. tinyurl.com/vacplan1

Pay your bills: Household bills keep coming while you are away. So this post at MyDollarPlan.com reminds readers, get ready for vacation by making sure you’ve covered those ongoing costs. If you use automatic bill-paying, great. But if you don’t use it, the hectic time before a vacation “is not the time to try to switch to automatic bill-pay in case something goes wrong. Save changes for when you are home and have time to follow up.” On other vacation matters: Make sure you are enrolled in rewards programs for the airlines and hotels you’ll be using — the points you earn may help you out on a future trip. And make sure you stop the mail. tinyurl.com/vacplan2

Teach your children: Money lessons for children can be part of a vacation, says CNBC’s Kelley Holland in this personal-finance video clip. For example, she says, give youngsters an allowance for souvenirs. “Some kids may just blow it the first day,” says Holland, and some may “find it too stressful” and spend nothing at all. “Both of those are just fine,” she says. Another idea: Assign a child to plan a day of the family vacation. If it doesn’t work out, well, it’s just a vacation, where “kids are free to fail,” says Holland. tinyurl.com/vacplan3

Check your priorities: Speaking of failure, a linked article at CNBC says a survey found that families would rather save for a vacation than for college. Really. tinyurl.com/vacplan4

Horror stories: Words of warning on “financial nightmare vacations” come in this post at Bankrate.com. Stories from readers include avalanches of credit-card penalties, trying to travel with an expired driver’s license, getting stuck for major car-repair bills in a strange place, and discovering the potentially enormous cost of using a cellphone outside the country. tinyurl.com/vacplan5