It’s here … that wonderful time when we can leave the chilly weather and daily monotony behind and give the entire family a chance to frolic in some warm and exotic destination! It’s Spring Break, and for many families in our communities, climbing on a jet or driving 24 hours straight to a beach is an annual tradition. Oh to get away for a few days!

Well, yeah, except you have to come back. Once Spring Break is over, you return to the daily routine. You may come back with a few souvenirs. I’m not talking about the t-shirts or stuffed animals … I’m thinking more about a few extra pounds from all that eating (and some adult beverages), along with those hefty credit-card bills.

It’s great to get away from it all, and even better to create happy family memories, but far too many people choose to take trips that put strains on their families — whether those strains are emotional or financial. I know it’s hard not to plan a nice trip when it seems like all your friends or neighbors are heading off to Disney or Atlantis or some amazing cruise, but whatever enjoyment you have for those few days is likely to be wiped out by the months-long anxiety of trying to pay off those bills.

Maybe we need to rethink our expectations of Spring Break. Maybe it is good to start by asking yourself what your goals are for vacation. Most people would say they want the family to grow closer and create memories by sharing some fun activities. While it’s nice to do that in some expensive tourist destination, maybe you don’t need to do so every year. Maybe this would be a good year for what some call a “staycation,” where you stay at home and take in local destinations. Perhaps you could spend a week visiting state parks or other low-cost attractions. After all, it’s really not about where you go … it’s the time you spend together that matters.

A scaled-back vacation can be significantly less stressful, too. You don’t have to worry about canceled flights or missed cruise connections. If one of the kids gets sick, you’re close to home instead of trapped in a hotel room. Wouldn’t you rather have the kids remember Spring Break as a time when everyone had fun instead of argued about money?

Rather than start your Spring Break planning by dreaming of a destination, start by looking at what you can really afford. You could open a savings account and put money for Spring Break in it every month. That way, you can pay cash for your vacation instead of building up credit-card bills.

One more thing I should mention about Spring Break: people often see vacations as a way to escape problems and the frustrations of daily life. They forget that when they come back, those problems and frustrations will still be there, and they’ll continue bother you until you do something about them. If you need some help with the frustrations, maybe it’s time to chat with one of our professional counselors. It’s easy to make an appointment.

More about Jeff here.

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