Tisdalepool200Stacey Tisdale offers tips for family vacation planning that includes dollars and common sense.

TMOM: Can you give us a few tips on getting control of our finances?

STACEY TISDALE: Before you spend, ask yourself three questions:  Can Iafford this? Is this bringing me closer to my goals?  If not, why am Idoing it?  If the spending isn’t  going to bring you closer to what youreally want, try to resist it.  And stay connected to your true goals. They will motivate you to control your spending.

TMOM: How do you stay connected to your goals?

STACEY TISDALE: For example, I wanted to go to Paris last year.  So Ikept a picture of the Eiffel Tower in my wallet alongside my creditcard.  It helped me remember my goal and resist unnecessary spending. 

TMOM: Let’s  look at that typical American family with $9,000 in creditcard debt.  Like everyone else, they want to travel with the kids. Should they not take a family vacation?

STACEY TISDALE: They shouldn’t charge their airline tickets and hotelreservations, but they can still take a family vacation if they stickto a plan.

TMOM: What’s the first step?

STACEY TISDALE: Start by having a family meeting.  Be realistic withyour kids about the financial situation.  They will understand,particularly during these tough economic times.  Then make a vacationplan. Say your family wants to go on a ski trip.  Maybe you decide as afamily that the budget will allow for a weekend in Vermont rather thana week in Aspen.  So focus on your weekend in Vermont and try to makeit cost effective.

TMOM: Cost effective.  Isn’t that an oxymoron when it comes to travel?

STACEY TISDALE: It doesn’t have to be.  Take the island of St. Martin,for example.  My family vacations there every year.  You would think,wow, an island in the Caribbean – must cost an arm and a leg.  But youcan do it very inexpensively.  There are lots of low-cost restaurantsand shows, and the beach is free.  If you go in the off season, like inAugust, everything is cheaper. 

TMOM: What other advice do you have for families trying to vacation on a budget?

STACEY TISDALE: Try to anticipate your cost as much as possible. Nothing can ruin a trip more than coming home to find you’ve reallyoverextended yourself.  And don’t get down about the fact that thecurrent economy might see you taking a family car trip rather than thattour of Europe.  The important thing is that you’re getting away andspending time with your family. 

Read Traveling Mom’s interview with Stacey Tisdale