Family vacation getaways can be one of the greatest experiences in a family. Some of the best memories (and snapshots) are created during family visits to the beach, theme parks, or historical parks or museums just hanging out having fun. Family vacations are known for bonding times but they’re perhaps as equally well known for being stressful times. So, how do you make sure that those memories are all good? Here are some surprisingly simple tips for keeping your family smiling on your next family vacation. 1.First and foremost, think through your Family vacation getaway carefully. Sara* and her husband have always taken their children to the Bahamas for a week. Two weeks before they leave, she finds out she has been laid off. They still go to the Bahamas, but with the layoff looming over their heads it just isn’t the same good time. In this economy, the number one tip is to make sure you can comfortably afford your trip – and have enough extra in case an unforeseen emergency arises. Nothing ruins a vacation faster than worrying about how you’re going to pay the electric bill when you get home. 2.Don’t forget; the best memories aren’t about where you are, but who you’re with. If you can’t reasonably afford a week-long trip to the beach this year, try taking a “staycation,” and going somewhere nearby. Maybe two trips a month or so apart. You’ll have quality, fun time with your family, and still be able to stick to your budget. 3.Head to the internet or your local chamber of commerce to find some new ideas for planning your next trip. There are thousands of places you can go on vacation in any part of the country. Keep your mind open, and you just may be surprised at some of the places you find to go. 4.Use Vacation Packages. Mark* always stays at the same hotel when he goes on vacation. It’s pricey, but he likes the amenities and the location. One day, he’s on the internet, and visits a budget travel site on a whim. He finds out he can not only save money on his trip, but can stay in a hotel that’s just as nice for nearly half the price. He books the vacation package and uses the money he saved for activities he might have missed out on otherwise. MD Resort in Fort Worth, Texas, for example, offers a two night family vacation package for up to four guests for less than $400 that includes a home cooked breakfast, light lunch and hearty dinner, free tea, hot chocolate, popcorn, and lemonade. They also have a five day and six night family package for just under $800 if you’re looking for a longer stay. Both packages are all inclusive with meals, indoor and outdoor fun, access to their beautiful 37 acre ranch and all their fun activities. Like many other resorts, they also offer couple getaways and corporate packages, as well. Also don’t assume that just because you’re visiting an out of the way area, or staying at a small, quaint bed and breakfast that they don’t offer vacation packages. You may be surprised at the convenient, cost saving offers you may find. NOTE: Not all packages are created equal, so before you commit to one, make sure to read all the fine print. Some packages have cumbersome requirements or hidden fees. If you have any question at all about an offer, call or email the offering company and have them clarify. Be sure you get the name of the person you spoke to, and keep any correspondence you get from them. 5.What about the Food Costs and What are you going to do once you get there? Is the food included? If not what will that cost you per day per person? What amenities or activities are offered? Do they cost extra? Be sure you have enough money budgeted to cover all your vacation plans. If you are on a tight budget consider an all-inclusive package so you know everything else you spend really is up to you. Be sure of course to carefully check what all is and is not included in the all-inclusive package as not all travel packages or resorts are created equal. 6.Consider a Staycation. If you’ve gone through all the steps, and you’re just not excited about a long trip anymore, why not consider a much closer destination. Pick a hotel an hour away instead of a half a day away. Or break away from the hotel box and choose a local resort. A local resort in the next town can feel exotic when you’re away from home. Marybeth* and her family always go out of town twice a year for vacation. It’s been a tough year for all of them, and cumbersome travel plans are just not looking appealing right now. After seeing a commercial on television, she decides to research her local parks and recreation, and is stunned at the number of things there are to do within an hour of her home. Go back to your Chamber of Commerce and find information on what’s available in your own backyard. Search the internet using your city to narrow down something nearby and perhaps family vacation package in…. (your local town). Visit a state park and swim or fish or camp out. Go see that museum you’ve always driven past but never stopped to see. Stay in that gorgeous Bed and Breakfast you’ve always wondered about. 7.No matter where you go or where you stay, family vacations can be some of the best times of your life. So, whether you’re driving down the street or flying to an island in another country, taking a few simple steps and planning ahead can help make any trip go smoothly. Go on; get out there and start planning your next family vacation. *Names have been changed.