According to Money Magazine, the average family spends around $1600/ year on a vacation each year. One might ask, "How do you afford this?"
First, choose a practical destination that the whole family will enjoy.:
Going on a long plane ride with small children is probably not the best idea. Neither is going to Europe, where you must walk a lot, right after you have knee surgery.
If you like to hike, Tofino, BC is highly recommended. We spent a week there and loved it. It has great geocaching there too.
Cruises are great and are family friendly if you need them to be, and don't have to be if you don't have children. We are currently considering cruising again this summer. This will make 7 for us if we choose to go that way. I recommend using Royal Caribbean for the Caribbean and Holland America for Alaska and New England. If you are looking for a vacation for a special needs person then try Autism on the Seas. This group was on our last cruise aboard the Freedom of the Seas, and was excellent for individuals with special needs.
Second, determine cost:
If the average vacation costs $1600, then divide that by the amount of time you have to save. Breaking it down into smaller weekly amounts to put back helps you to see smaller chunks of money are easier to save than trying to come up with the whole sum at once.
$1600/ 6 months planning time = $267/month
$267/month / 4 weeks in a month = $67/ week
$67/ week sounds much easier to save than $1600 for a vacation, and it all evens out.
I do not recommend ever living outside of your means, and this means vacations! I love to vacation, but I would never put something on a credit card and carry a balance. For more info. on this, see my Travel page. Proper planning is the key!
Third, plan for spending money and extras:
If you price a vacation for $1600, there might be taxes or fees, so plan for this. Especially when cruising or going to Disney. You will always want to go on tours,eat snacks, or buy souvenirs, so make sure you plan for this.
I once went to a hotel and brought just enough cash for the room, however, when I got there they had a $100 deposit fee that I had to put down up front. I got the money back at the end of the stay, but that was $100 cash that I didn't have to purchase with during the three days I was there. Luckily they had an ATM and I had money in my account to cover it.
Last, book your vacation and enjoy! You will have a good time planning for the vacation as well as spending the time taking it. A study done by Science Daily reported that people planning a vacation tend to be happier than those who don't. I think that the thought of having something to look forward to is the key. Also, a change in one's routine is always good for your brain.