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RISMEDIA, June 11, 2010—(MCT)—With summer upon us, it’s time to plan a family vacation. Don’t let financial stress or busy schedules get in the way of putting dates on the calendar. Consider these five points:

1. No one is getting any younger. Not you, the grandparents or your children. Family life is hectic, but before you know it, the kids will be engaged with school responsibilities, summer jobs and college internships. That means the opportunities to get away as a family will diminish.

2. Its only money. Sure, budgets are tight. We’re all trying to save more. But a hefty bank account is no substitute for a memory bank brimming with great visuals of your kids running on the beach, hiking in the mountains or climbing into the saddle for the first time. Allocate the dollars you can, then be on the lookout for deals, promotions or creative low-cost options.

3. Keep it in the family. Busy schedules often mean we seldom see family members about whom we care deeply. Add the geographic spread that is common in most clans, and get-togethers can be rare. Make this the summer you reconnect with grandparents, that favorite uncle or your long-lost cousins. Share stories, trade photos and extend the limbs on your family tree.

4. Set up the tent. Camping provides a low-cost opportunity to learn outdoor skills. Your kids will benefit from knowing how to collect wood, make a fire, and cook and dine under the open sky. Discuss the importance of planet-friendly outdoor recreation and enjoy identifying seasonal constellations. The kids will thank you later.

5. Make a plan together. Gather your family and get their thoughts on your summer plans. Seek volunteers for researching possible destinations or low-cost opportunities. Consider trading homes with a friend or relative. When the time comes, share packing and last-minute responsibilities. In the end, it’s the shared experience that creates the memories and strengthens the bond.

(c) 2010, The Dallas Morning News.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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