Here’s How to Make Those Ruined Vacation Plans (Sort Of) Worth It

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Historically, July has been our go-to month for big family vacations. In the past, we’ve been blessed with the ability to take some pretty amazing trips. Lately, however, the conjunction of the pandemic and our youngest daughter’s sprint to finish her final year of nursing school has us looking to next summer. Whether choice or circumstance has you scaling back in 2020, here are some tactics to make the most of the make-up opportunity.

Save big, stay flexible. As if we needed another reminder of the importance of an emergency fund, the pandemic has demonstrated why we need cash available. If your situation still permits you to save, it makes sense to focus your efforts on bulking up your emergency fund. Clearly, we never know what lurks around the corner, and it’s hard to imagine having too much cash in the case that things go awry. When we come out the other side, you can redirect that “excess” to other goals -- like next year’s vacation.

Save big, go big. I’m a big fan of targeted savings. At our house, the current recipient of a bi-weekly deposit is the savings account we recently named “Michaela Graduation Trip.” There’s just something energizing about the mind picture – more on this in a moment – created by earmarking and naming your savings. With an extra year to save, plus what you’ve already accumulated for this year’s vacation, maybe next year you can take it up a notch.

Remember your furry friends. To take our minds off the 24-hour news cycle, my family added Cooper, a little maltipoo, to our crew. This wasn’t exactly my idea, but if you're contemplating a similar move, don’t forget to consider the ongoing costs as well as those of boarding or pet sitting to your budget so you don’t derail next year’s vacation.

Research. Regardless of your future vacation plans, do your research to discern the best deals. With time on your hands, this might be a great time to explore your options. I’ve already begun browsing, and it looks like the deals will be abundant as we rebound from the pandemic. Just make sure you keep your options open and don’t get caught in a nonrefundable situation.

Build a “dream board.” I was talking to my daughter about the vacation dilemma, and she, as usual, had some practical advice: “Tell them to build a dream board.” I liked it. Put your vision of next year’s makeup vacation center stage by pinning ideas and images on a family dream board. It’s a great way to focus on the future -- and with all that’s going on, that’s not a bad idea for a lot of areas of our life.

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