Real Life Solutions

Subscribe

Archive for June, 2012

Low Cost Summer Camp Options

June 25, 2012 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: About the Family, Children No Comments →

Most parents and child development experts agree that going to camp is great for kids. They get to participate in new and challenging activities, learn new skills, make new friends and boost their confidence. But all of these wonderful experiences come at a price.  Findid a low cost summer camp option is often hard for parents.

In a poor economy, many parents cannot afford summer camp. No matter how they adjust their budget, they simply cannot find a way to fit summer camp expenses into their budgets. What these parents may not realize is that there are numerous low cost summer camp options available. Even if you can’t scrape up the money to send your child to his top camp choice, you can probably find a suitable alternative that is less expensive and just as fun.

Here are some low cost summer camp options to consider for your child.

- 4-H Camp – Every state in the United States runs an independent 4-H camping program. Since the organization operates as a non-profit, camp fees are generally quite low. The types of 4-H camps offered vary from state to state, but most host a variety of activities that children will enjoy. Some states offer camps for children with special needs as well so if your child has a special need, they too can attend camp. Check with your local 4-H chapter for camp locations, dates and fees.

- YMCA – The YMCA also operates camps throughout the country and at reasonable prices. You will find lots of residential camps that last a week or more on their website, and many local chapters offer day camps as well. YMCA camps include boys’, girls’, co-ed and family programs so there’s something to meet every family’s needs.

- Boys and Girls Clubs of America – Programs offered by the Boys and Girls club vary by location, but they usually include day camps and many other summer activities. Registration fees are low, but additional fees may apply for certain optional activities. Check with your local chapter to see what is available in your area, the dates, fees and locations.

- Girl Scouts/Boy Scouts – Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops usually offer camping opportunities to their members. These camps focus on teaching children new skills and of course, having a great time. The Girl Scout and Boy Scout opportunities may include weekend trips, day camps and residential camps. Membership and registration fees are very reasonable. Check with your local scout troops for details.

- Sports camps – Your child’s school may offer camps for baseball, basketball, soccer and other sports with low registration fees. Some universities also sponsor such sporting programs, and many of these are free to participants. If your child plays sports and they want to enhance their skills, sports camps are a great option for them. Check with your child’s coach or athletic director to find out what sports camps are available in your area.

- Religious camps – Churches often sponsor day and residential summer camp programs for members as well as non-members. These camps are often funded by donations, so registration is cheap or free. Talk to a clergy member or check the local paper to find camps available in your area. These are just a few of the most notable sources for affordable summer camps. Check with your local park service and non-profit organizations in your area for even more options.

While the ideas listed above are good low cost summer camp options options are inexpensive, you may still find yourself short on cash. Here are some more ways you can save money when sending your child to camp.

- Apply for scholarships. They’re not just for college students – scholarships are available to help parents send their children to camp. Some come from the camps themselves, while others are funded by outside organizations. Check online or ask the staff at your camp of choice to find out what’s available.

- Volunteer. Some organizations give discounts to campers whose parents agree to volunteer with them, either during camp or otherwise. Ask if this is an option when considering a camp. You might also ask other parents and even your local education PTA if they know of any volunteer options available.

- Consider a day camp. Fees for day camps are almost always cheaper than those for sleep away camps since they do not include room and board. Meal plans may also be optional – if so, consider sending a bag lunch with your child each day. It’s almost always to cheaper to send a lunch than it is to pay for prepared meals.

- Ask about payment options. Most overnight camps allow parents to pay registration fees in installments for easier budgeting. But if you pay in a lump sum or prior to a deadline, you may be eligible for a discount. Some day camps allow parents to pay by the week or month as long as the balance is paid in full before camp is over.   – Ask about discounts for multiple children from the same family. Multi-children discounts can save you a significant amount of money. If this option isn’t offered up front, make sure to inquire about them when you apply to send your children to camp. Some of the most exclusive summer camps cost thousands of dollars per session. Fortunately, there are lots of less expensive options available for families on a tight budget. And since the state of the economy has affected the camps as well, many are willing to work with parents to make camp possible for their children. So before you rule out summer camp this year, take time to look at all of your options.

 

 

Reducing The Amount Of Sugar In Your Diet

June 22, 2012 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: About the Family, Healthy Living No Comments →

There are a whole variety of reasons why you might want to reduce the amount of sugar in your diet. Not only can it help you lose weight, but it can also reduce your chance of developing diabetes, help stabilize your mood and assist in recovering from a range of other ailments such as eczema.

Cutting sugar out of your diet can seem like a really daunting prospect. It tends to get worse once you start looking into your diet more closely, when you realize just how much sugar you eat! The thought of not being able to eat all of those things can really put you off the idea.

Fortunately, it’s actually not as bad as it seems. Firstly, it’s possible to replace many sugary things which you have to cut out of your diet with similar alternatives. Secondly, it’s worth remembering that you don’t necessarily have to cut out every sugary bit of food from your diet at once.

Here are a few simple suggestions for alternatives to eating your usual sugary foods. After those, we’ll take a look some ways to help overcome the initial challenge of changing your diet, and how to stick with it once you’ve started.

Dried fruit: Most of us have probably tried dried fruit at some point in our lives. The most common dried fruit is probably the raisin. However, there are loads of other dried fruits available too: apricots, mangos, prunes and many more dried fruits can be found in supermarkets and health food stores. Just make sure that they are natural, rather than sweetened dried fruits.

Although fruits are sweet, they contain a different kind of sugar to that found in normal cakes etc. The great thing about dried fruits is that they are really sweet, which makes them great replacements for chocolate, biscuits and other sweet things.

Fresh fruit: Fresh fruit isn’t usually as sweet as dried fruit, but it’s still very sweet.

Fructose-based products: Most jams and sweets are sucrose-based. Sucrose is standard sugar – the kind you bake with and the kind you find in sweets and chocolates (along with other processed sugars which are also bad for you). Fructose is the kind of sugar found in fruit. It’s actually sweeter than sucrose which means you need less of it to achieve the same effect.

Fortunately, it’s possible to find a range of fructose-based products in health-food stores and supermarkets. These use fruit sugar instead of fructose to make cakes, jams and all those other tasty treats that you crave.

Fructose: Not only is it possible to buy fructose-based products, but you can also buy fructose itself. You can use it in place of any other kind of sugar which you would normally use on a daily basis for cooking or sweetening your drinks etc.

While these alternatives will help you to reduce the amount of sugar in your diet, you might still find it hard to adjust at first.

It’s also possible that you’d prefer not to have too much fruit sugar in your diet either, which means cutting out almost everything that tastes sweet. Here are a few hints on how you can deal with these issues:

Savory Treats: If weight loss isn’t your primary goal, then it’s possible to eat savory treats that give a similar kind of satisfaction to sweet treats. Things like crisps and chips are good for this. So are cheese, plain yoghurt or various types of nuts. Be creative: there are many savory treats that you can use as an alternative to candy, cakes, chocolate and so on.

Fill Up: When we’re full we usually feel less like eating treats. A simple solution to reducing the craving for sweet things is therefore to eat larger portions of savory meals. Make extra salad, or extra pasta. Just try to make sure you get your fill from the savory food that you eat.

Savory Drinks: A really good way to kill the desire for sweet things is to drink something savory that cleanses your taste buds. A good example of this is chamomile tea, which is very mild tasting and washes flavors out of your mouth. Drinking savory things like this helps quiet the urge for sweet taste sensations.

You can also try drinking things like ginger tea, or liquorice tea. A unique feature of liquorice tea is that, despite containing no sugar, it leaves a sweet aftertaste at the back of your throat. This can help satisfy cravings for sweet flavors.

Keeping to a reduced sugar, or sugar-free, diet can be challenging, but there are lots of ways to help. Sticking with the diet is the real challenge though. It requires both willpower and motivation. Willpower is the hardest part of the equation: it can be very hard to resist strong urges. However, the more you resist, the better you get at controlling your desires. That means that over time, your willpower will improve.

Motivation is something that assists willpower and is also assisted by willpower. The two work together quite closely. Staying motivated requires that you keep in mind at all times why you are cutting sugar out of your diet. If it is for health reasons, such as diabetes, then remember that not only your wellbeing but also your life itself is at stake. You are doing this for yourself, not because someone else says you have to.

Motivation can also be sustained by gradually working your way into the diet. You don’t have to drop all sugary foods at once. You can start by eliminating one or two particular foods – say ice cream or biscuits – and get used to not having them. After a while you can cut out another thing, and another. Take your time.

One more thing worth remembering is that your taste buds themselves can change. After a while of not eating chocolate, biscuits, ice cream and so on, you start to taste the sweetness in other things which are more savory. Even something as plain as bread actually has some sweetness, and this can become satisfying once your taste buds have adjusted.

Cutting sugar from your diet isn’t necessarily easy, but it’s really not the toughest thing in the world either. With the right attitude and knowledge, it’s not only possible but pretty easy to make this change. Just set your mind to it, and remember why you’re doing it in the first place.

For more free information on staying healthy — Click here

Choosing a Summer Camp for Your Child

June 21, 2012 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: About the Family, Children, Healthy Living, Mommy Rambles No Comments →

If you’re considering sending your child to summer camp, you’ll find that there is no shortage of camps to choose from. A lack of options is rarely an issue for parents. But choosing a camp that’s right for your child isn’t always easy.

There are lots of things to think about when deciding on a summer camp for your son or daughter. You want to find a place where they will have fun, learn new things and develop social skills. You want them to be safe and in the care of qualified counselors. Budget may also be a concern. Here are some things to think about when looking at your summer camp options.

Traditional or Specialized?

When most of us think of summer camp, we think of programs that offer a variety of activities, many of which take place outdoors. These traditional camps are readily available, but there are also other types of camps to choose from. There are sports camps that can help athletic types improve their game. Academic camps can help keep gifted children’s minds active during the summer or help those who are lagging behind in school catch up. There are also camps that focus on other interests such as drama or horseback riding, as well as camps designed for children with special needs.

Specialized camps are great if they address specific goals you have for your child or cater to their needs. But if you want to expose him or her to a variety of new experiences, a more general summer camp might be a better option. Traditional camps also tend to bring together a more diverse group of campers, allowing for more opportunities to learn from one another and develop social skills.

Does the Camp Have a Good Reputation?

Summer camps are not regulated by the government, so choosing a reputable camp requires some research. Camps accredited by the American Camp Association must meet a long list of stringent requirements regarding health, safety, facilities, staffing and more, so finding an accredited camp is a good starting point. But lack of accreditation isn’t necessarily a red flag, particularly for newer or smaller camps that may not yet have the resources to meet the requirements.

Whether or not a camp is accredited, it’s a good idea to seek out the opinions of those who have experience with the program. This includes parents, campers, counselors and staff. If you don’t know anyone who has first-hand experience with the camp, try asking the staff for references or checking online. And it’s always a good idea to visit the camp in person before making your final decision. There’s just no substitute for meeting with counselors and seeing the facilities and programs for yourself.

Day or Overnight Camp?

Daytime only programs are an increasingly popular summer camp option. They are usually less expensive than overnight camps, and parents don’t have to worry about getting a call to come pick up their homesick child in the middle of the night. But overnight camps still offer certain advantages, such as fostering independence and allowing campers to develop stronger bonds with counselors and fellow campers.

The most important factors in deciding between day or overnight camp are what you and your child are most comfortable with. Generally speaking, younger children tend to do better at day camps. Teens and tweens are often eager to go to overnight camps, and in most cases they do well there.

What Does Your Child Want?

When considering summer camps, it’s important not to forget to ask your child what he or she wants. Many a miserable camp experience could have been avoided by following this simple rule! While your opinions and requirements as a parent are important, it’s also important to make sure your child is ready and willing to participate in the program.

For instance, some parents send their children to sports camps in hopes that they will develop an interest in a particular sport. But if your child doesn’t already have some level of interest, it could backfire. Working out some sort of compromise will make for a much better summer camp experience for everyone involved.

To Camp or not to Camp?

In your quest to find the best summer camp for your child, you may find that none of the options are quite right. Maybe the camps within your budget aren’t a good fit for your child, or perhaps he’s just not ready for camp yet. In cases like these, it may be better to wait until next year than to take a chance on sending him off to the wrong camp.

Summer camp can be one of the most positive and memorable experiences in a young person’s life. That’s why it’s so important to take the time to choose the right camp for your child.

 Grab Some Free Summer Fun Ideas Here

 

Dealing With Summer Camp Anxiety

June 18, 2012 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: About the Family, Healthy Living No Comments →

You’ve decided on a summer camp for your child. Payments and arrangements have been made. The bags are packed, and your child is ready for a fun summer experience. Or is he? Kids are often eager to go off to summer camp. But some are less than thrilled with the idea, and others are determined not to go. If your child is suffering from summer camp anxiety, you’re certainly not alone.

More often than not, children who are anxious about going to summer camp come around once they’re there and do fine. But if you want to make sure your child has the best possible experience, it’s important to address his anxiety ahead of time. Doing so will ensure that he goes into the summer with an open mind and reduce the chances that you’ll encounter a meltdown when it’s time to drop him off.

Signs of Summer Camp Anxiety

Your child might come out and tell you how he’s feeling about summer camp with no prompting. In most cases, however, kids keep such information to themselves unless they are asked. They see their parents going to the trouble of setting everything up and going on about how great it’s going to be, and they don’t want to disappoint them. But there are almost always other signs that something is wrong.

In the weeks before camp, look for changes in your child’s behavior. He may become withdrawn or hard to get along with. You may see an increase or decrease in appetite. He might have nightmares. He could even display physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea or stomach pain. All of these are possible signs of summer camp anxiety.

Getting to the Root of the Problem

If you’re seeing signs of anxiety, the first thing to do is ask your child what’s wrong. It’s best to leave it open-ended at first, even if you suspect that you know what the problem is. It’s possible that it might not be what you think. And even if it is, your child needs the opportunity to get it out in his own words.

If he’s not opening up, then you can try steering the conversation toward camp. Simply bring the subject up in a neutral manner, or ask him how he feels about it. Gauge his response. Even if he says he’s looking forward to it, tone of voice or body language may indicate otherwise. If you feel like he’s telling you what he thinks you want to hear, make it a point to tell him that you’re interested in his true feelings and keep the conversation going. You’ll eventually get to the bottom of it.

Listening is the key to finding out what’s causing the anxiety. If you bring up the subject and let your child do most of the talking, you’ll likely find that he is willing to share his feelings. Once they’re out in the open, you can work on easing any fears.

Working Together Toward a Solution

Once you’ve established the reasons behind your child’s anxiety, you can address them specifically. A general “Oh, everything will be just fine” simply won’t do. Finding ways for your child to cope with his unique issues works much better.

Instead of making suggestions, try to lead your child to finding his own solutions. If it’s his idea, he’s more likely to feel comfortable with it. You could start by asking him what would make him feel better about the situation. He may have had the answer all along but been hesitant to suggest it. If he’s not sure what would make him feel better, offering some suggestions may be in order.

After Camp Has Begun

Sometimes camp anxiety sets in after camp has already started. In these cases, homesickness is the most likely culprit. If you’re able to talk to your child, ask what you can do to ease his mind. Perhaps you could send something from home, or even send out a postcard with a cheery note each day.

If your child has shown signs of anxiety prior to going to camp, preemptive actions may be in order. Consider sending a care package to arrive a few days after camp has begun as a sign of reassurance. It’s also wise to talk to the counselors about your child’s fears. They may have developed some solutions of their own that could help.

Anxiety can turn what should be a positive summer camp experience into a train wreck. The good news is that summer camp anxiety is, in most cases, easily curable.

Grab Your Sun Safety Tips Here

The Benefits Of Swimming For Fitness

June 13, 2012 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Children, Healthy Living No Comments →

Swimming is one of those exercises that’s hard to hate, since it’s gentle and yet fun at the same time. Most people enjoy a dip in the pool, so why not turn that dip into some laps as a form of exercise? There are many fitness benefits that one can get from swimming. If you’re not convinced, keep reading.

Swimming Is Great Cardio

Swimming requires a lot of energy and burns a lot of calories thanks to the fact that, when you swim, you need to move your whole body instead of just your legs or your arms. Swimming works your body and heart the same way any cardio workout, such as dancing or running, would. So if you take up swimming for your fitness, you will work your heart and boost your metabolism at the same time. To get the most out of swimming, it’s best to carry out interval training where you do high intensity sprint swimming alternated with easier workouts. This way you’ll push your body hard but will be able to do so for a longer period.

Swimming Is Great For Strength Training

Not only is swimming good for a cardio workout, swimming challenges the muscles all over your body and is great for increasing overall body strength. The water resistance you face while swimming forces your muscles to work harder – just like traditional forms of strength training. You’ll be able to gain some muscle and tone up your body at the same time. Swimming is also widely used as therapy to strengthen injured muscles in athletes, since the water resistance provides a good workout without giving stress to the injured body parts.

Swimming Is Great For Everybody!

The great thing about swimming is that everybody can do it and enjoy it. It’s suitable for every age group and fitness level; you can decide how hard to push yourself when you swim. Elderly people can benefit from swimming too, since the water gives good support to their body and they can stay fit without worrying about injuring their back or joints. It’s also a great activity for you to do with your family: you can have fun together and stay healthy at the same time. If you bring little kids along to the pool, though, be sure to always keep an eye on them to prevent any accidents.

How to Keep Your Coupons Organized

June 11, 2012 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: About the Family, Goals, Organization No Comments →

We live in the age of the coupon. Frugal consumers are continuously on the prowl for ways to save money and tighten their purse strings. Finding the perfect coupon in the Sunday paper is like unearthing the Holy Grail. In this day and age, cutting and clipping coupons has become an art form, and attentive and organized shoppers are saving thousands of dollars on their monthly grocery bills. There are newspaper editorials, magazine articles, and even reality television shows that detail the ins and outs of extreme couponing.

You probably consider yourself to be a smart and strategic shopper. You always look for deals and bargains. You preplan the weekly menu by what is on sale at the grocery store. Couponing has always been a weekend warrior hobby, but now you want to take it to the next level. But what do you do? Where do you begin?

Two Ways to Approach Couponing

When it comes to strategic couponing, one thing is for certain: You don’t want your coupon collection to be as cluttered, disorganized and chaotic as your desk was back in college. You need to find a system of organization that works for you. However, before you even begin to organize your coupons, you are going to want to consider what type of couponing approach you are going take. First, are you going to clip only those coupons that you are positive you are going to use? Second, are you going to keep every single coupon you cut until it expires? In other words, the manner in which you organize your collection of coupons will depend, to some degree, on how many coupons you have.

Finding the Right Couponing System

1. If this is your first foray into serious couponing, then the envelope technique is a good place to start. Every envelope represents a different aisle or category in the grocery store. For example, you can have envelopes dedicated to diary products, meat, beauty and hygiene, snacks, and fruits and vegetables. Cut the coupons, put them in the according envelope and then bring the envelopes with you to the grocery store.

2. Depending on how many coupons you use and discard, there may no longer be enough room in your envelope system to hold all your coupons. This might be the time when you graduate to an index file box. Once again, each category and section should be labeled. While envelopes easily fit into your purse on grocery shopping day, now you are going to have to look through the index file box for those coupons you want to use before you go shopping.

3. A three-ring binder is the favorite organizational technique amongst seasoned couponers. Why is that? The binder can hold an enormous amount of coupons. Once you fill its plastic sheets with coupons, separate categories with binder dividers and begin to sort the sections alphabetically, you know you are no longer a weekend hobbyist, but a hardcore super-saver.

Cleaning out Your Coupons

If you are a diligent coupon clipper, getting rid of old coupons every once in awhile is a must. Every six months, spend an hour or two and sort through the entire collection. Toss anything that is expired and throw out any coupons that have an expiration date within the next month if you don’t plan on using it before then.

Additionally, don’t clip every single coupon that you see in the Sunday paper. Only add coupons to your collection that you know you will actually use.

Elli likes to blog about family and work life, home security and safety, and general home improvement tips.  She works in content marketing for YourLocalSecurity.com  (read more about them here).  To learn more about Elli, follow her on  Google+ .

 

Importance of Discipline for Toddlers and How it Affects Teenage Life

June 08, 2012 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: Children, Parenting No Comments →

Disciplining toddlers when they are at that age is essential to ensure that they grow up to be a well-rounded teenager as well as adult that knows how to follow rules and respect authority without any kind of rebellion. This is important because discipline means to teach, therefore, the earlier a parent starts to discipline her or his child properly, the better the child would turn out in the long run; to function in the world successfully.

Reactively (to reduce bad behavior through discipline), to discipline properly, it should be done by an adult in an effort to create a bond with the child and be directed to the behavior that needs to be adjusted, as soon as it happens so the toddler could make a connection between the discipline and the improper behavior. Toddlers learn from consistency so if they repeat a bad behavior, make sure to discipline them each time or they would begin to think that particular behavior is okay “sometimes” because they do not always get disciplined. When an adult or parent disciplines a toddler, she or he needs to make sure to do it in a way that it is appropriate for the child’s age because toddlers and children at different ages understand things at different levels. People that enforce disciplines need to keep in their minds that young children imitate what they see around them. So, in other words, if parents want their children to behave correctly, they should lead by example. In doing this, toddlers can start early in developing self-discipline by recognizing what is right and what is wrong and behave accordingly.

If parents are being consistent with their love and attention for their toddlers and be fair when it comes to disciplining the kids without any kind of mean tone, that can help strengthen the relationship between the parents and their children because, in turn, positive reinforcements are used when the younger kids seem to self-discipline themselves. By positive reinforcements, parents need to realize that disciplining their toddlers or children of any ages do not mean only reprimanding the kids for bad or negative behaviors. It also means providing a form of discipline by recognizing positive or good behaviors so the toddlers can differ what happens when they misbehave and when they behave, it is never too early to start disciplining a very young kid; this is a proactive method of discipline.

Starting to discipline a child when she or he is a toddler paves the way for her or him as life goes on and she or he becomes a teenager. Oftentimes, how a toddler is disciplined affects how she or he is as a teenager; one that was consistently and fairly disciplined may grow up to be a respectful and well-behaved child who eventually will become an adult that has no problems following rules and respecting authority. Whereas a toddler that did not get disciplined adequately or properly may become a rebellious teenager who feels that she or he does not have to follow rules because she or he never really has to do so when she or he was younger.

Parents should never feel bad or guilty when they have to reactively discipline their toddlers or children of any ages because they need to provide constant structure to the children. The kids may be temporarily upset but they will always love their parents unconditionally and essentially see why discipline is very important at every level and age, and practice self-discipline throughout their life.

Guest Post Author Bio: Briana Kelly has over 5 years experience of content writing in the area of preschool and early education. Website: http://www.giraffe.ie

 

 

Tips for Organizing Your Family Vacation

June 05, 2012 By: RealLifeSolutions Category: About the Family, Healthy Living, Just for Fun, Organization No Comments →

We all hope our family vacations become a treasured source of togetherness and memories. But the reality is often far less lovely: getting an entire household out the door with every needful thing can be an overwhelming task. With some good organizational strategies, you can make planning less stressful, and vacations more meaningful!

1. Decide Your Budget

Stay-cation, state park camping, regional or national parks, domestic or international travel: where you go and what you do depends on what budget works best for your family.

Decide how you will divide your budget…set a limit for travel expenses and break out a daily amount for all activities, meals and souvenirs. Knowing your funds are spread appropriately over the entire span of the vacation provides security and freedom.

2. Grab a Notebook, or Binder, or Computer

Most important, stash all or your vacation information in one place, be it a notebook, binder, or saved on your computer. Consider organizing your files into sections,like: lodging, attractions, activities, meals, maps and packing plans.

Next, create a packing list for each member of your family,and give them ownership of preparing their suitcase and determining what other necessities they may need.

3. Get Family Input

Find out what vacation aspects are the most emotionally important to each family member. When you know that one person enjoys trying off-the-beaten-path restaurants,another likes having a bit of cash for small souvenirs, and another wants to fit in hiking or swimming, you can plan destinations and days that help your family form positive memories along the way.

Family input also helps avoid vacation ruts. If you’ve been going camping because it’s tradition, but solicit family input and find out no one actually enjoys the camping tradition, you’re primed to change paths and make a new tradition that meets your family’s needs.

If you have big dreamers in your family, guide the brainstorming session with topics like ‘Things to do while camping’, ‘Things to do in the car’, or ‘Fun stops along our route’. This cuts down on suggestions like para-sailing and surfing on your drive to a land-locked state.

4. Surf the Web

‘Google’ your proposed destinations, to learn about: local attractions, restaurants and reviews, printable maps of the area–along with driving directions, schedules, and discounts to the activities your family most enjoys.Knowing which activities are free, which have a low cost,and which are more expensive, helps you maximize the budget you set in step one. Additionally, you can order event and activity tickets before leaving home. This could save you time and the frustration of waiting in line for tickets.

Online research can also help you save money on hotel accommodations. Compare amenities, rates, room combinations, and discount options. Look for mid-week specials, area attraction passes, free meals with room reservations, and other perks that add value to your hotel spending.

With that information in hand, make a call to your favorites, and see about additional deals or available discounts. Many can be had just by politely asking. For example, one family found a seaside suite motel that looked like a great home base for exploration up and down the coastal highway. A quick call to the manager secured a much lower weekly rate on their stay. Extending that leg of the vacation plan by one day saved over $150!

Another family discovered it would be more cost-effective to rent a beach side cottage, versus taking multiple rooms in a chain motel further from the water. With self-catering and in-cottage laundry machines, the family saved an average of $120 a night, compared to the original motel plans.

On-line research and pre-planning give you a ready stock of options, and let you tailor your vacation days to suit your family’s energy. Plan for some high energy days, and some low energy days, and no matter what happens, you’ll have options. Be sure to have a few options for lousy weather,and a few very open activities (such as pick-up deli chicken and have a picnic) that can be tossed into the mix at a moment’s notice should the family’s needs change.

5. Spread Out the Work

There may be many pre-vacation tasks that can be delegated to family members. Share the load. Print out individual packing lists, a countdown to-do list, and other organizational aides to display in a central area of your home, and keep everyone motivated and working together toward your vacation.

Even small children can be given some tasks. They could choose three books or a favorite toy to take in their amusement bag, or decide which five shirts they most want to bring along. Older children might be assigned packing buddy status with a younger child.

Teen and adult members might do well with full responsibility for mapping rest stops, planning layover activities for flights, or packing nutritious snacks. If you have one or two members who enjoy photography or blogging, assign them to document your adventure, and put them in charge of creating a family photo book from the images or blog entries later. Give younger family members disposable or inexpensive digital cameras for a very unique look at the vacation from an entirely new perspective. Let everyone take ownership of some aspect of the vacation.

Taking the time to plan with all your family’s needs in mind is a commitment, but the pay-off is a great, low-stress vacation everyone will remember for years!

Stop by Get Organized Now – and check out the amazing collection of 2,175 ideas, tips and techniques for organizing your home, getting rid of clutter, organizing your time, your schedule, your money, your paper, your family and much more!