With summer upon us, it’s time to plan some family fun! Grab this free vacation planner printable to plan your holidays this summer.
I know all too well how easy it is to let time slip by just staying caught up in the same old same.
The inertia is there. And getting up and doing something different? That takes effort, work, and planning ahead.
So today I wanted to share my family fun planner with you. It’s a simple template for planning everything you need, and what you want to do.
Why A Vacation Planner Printable?
Here’s a sample plan from our trip to Great Wolf Lodge back in January.
As you can see, there is a lot to keep track of.
Coupons, groceries, packing lists. Having your head full of those things can be really stressful, and it helps to get it all written down where you can check it off once it’s done.
Peace of mind.
Family Vacation Plan
Secondly, having a plan helps make sure you’re making the most of your time.
The vacation planning page was born out of one-too-many trips where we found ourselves floundering when flying by the seat of our pants left us wondering what to do with our time.
I used to think this habit of having a written plan, and starting to plan early was a crazy quirk of mine, but eventually I learned that my perception was just because I was comparing myself to my husband who does. not. plan.
Since then, I’ve learned that planning is very normal, and that in most relationships if one person is an anti-planner (like my hubby), the other person sometimes takes the reins and becomes an uber-planner.
That’s me. I usually talk about it in terms of meal planning, but it really applies to all areas. I like knowing what comes next so I can be prepared, and therefore, not stressed out.
But there’s another big reason why planning ahead serves you and me well; it has the potential to save a lot of money.
Whether it’s a day trip to a state park 30 miles away, or a week-long vacation.
How to save money by planning ahead?
- Strategically plan your trip around gift cards, coupon codes, specials, etc.
This one-night trip to Great Wolf Lodge for instance. If you’re not familiar, it’s a pretty fancy place, with an indoor waterpark.
We live close enough that we could get Day passes and make a day trip out of it.
But because we planned ahead and booked on Black Friday, it’s actually cheaper for us to do an overnight stay, playing in the waterpark for two days.
- Day passes for the four of us: $240+tax.
- Overnight booked on Black Friday: $135.49 total.
Dude. Even half day passes would have cost us $180.
(Side note: Last year, we booked two nights, and while the kids would love to live there, Gabe and I decided that three solid days of water park slides was a little too much, so we cut it down to one night this time.)
The second way having a vacation planner printable and planning ahead saves us money is on food. We like to take a lot of our own food when we travel. Partly to save money, but also because it helps us eat healthier, and we all feel so much better when we do!
But we also want to live a little. So we planned to eat at the Great Wolf Lodge concession stand for one meal, purchase an unlimited refills cup (that one didn’t happen because of Covid restrictions), and on the way home, get Chipotle for dinner (I know it’s not a fancy splurge, but I LOVE Chipotle!).
I can cover that using Swagbucks reward points to purchase Chipotle and/or Visa gift cards, making our “splurge” foods free, or nearly free! The catch is that it takes a week to process of Swagbucks gift card order. Thus, planning ahead is essential.
Our total budget for the trip should come to about $180 – I’m guessing $10 for gas, and factoring the $135 we already paid for the lodge, groceries we’re taking, plus a few odds and ends like treats from the candy shop.
This isn’t magic, it’s simply planning.
The third way to save is to make a list of all the things we need to remember to bring so the kids aren’t begging you for $15 souvenir goggles because they forgot theirs. *facepalm*.
I say this in jest, but really. Do make a packing list!
Like I said above, it doesn’t matter whether you’re planning a 2 week vacation in June, or mini-field trips with your kids throughout the year. It pays to plan!
To that end, you can download the worksheet I currently use to plan my trips to have on hand. I included a page explaining how and why I use it.