What better way to beat the winter blahs than a family vacation. Sun, sea, sand or snow – they all offer a respite from the everyday, bringing kids and adults together for fun and frivolity.

The challenge is getting there – not physically, but financially. Often times a return from vacation brings the arrival of credit card debt and the stress of paying for a week or two of carefree living.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

The key is to set a plan in place that will help pay for the trip before you pack the suitcase and head out the door.

Naturally, family size and destination will determine how much you need to set aside, but the principles of saving remain the same—whether you choose skiing in the mountains, a theme park south of the border, or an island resort, says Delilah Dushenski, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional and financial advisor with SK Logan & Associates in Calgary, Alberta.

Here’s how to reach your vacation destination, guilt free – not just this year, but in the years to come:

  1. Make it a family thing: Planning a family vacation is a great way to teach children important life skills such as goal setting, organization and budgeting. Involving everyone will help show how teamwork and trade-offs can help save money and accomplish a desirable goal. A $40 saving each week on order-in food alone will add over $2,000 to the vacation savings jar over the course of a year.
  2. Check it out: Plan your trip as far in advance as possible. The time of year that you travel has a big impact on expenses. If there’s no other option than during March break, so be it, but knowing the extra cost ahead of time allows you to plan realistically. Calculate the total costs of the trip and determine how much you need to save. Don’t forget to factor in exchange rates and incidental items.
  3. Start early and be consistent: The sooner you start, the easier it is to commit to a goal. If a vacation jar isn’t your thing, establish a separate bank account where savings can be deposited on a regular basis.
  4. Plan for the future: A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER professional can help put you on the road to financial health, peace of mind, and indulgence without debt. Planning means never having to feel guilty again because a pool is set aside for special occasions and unexpected events; that household bills are covered; and that your retirement isn’t put in jeopardy.

Securing your financial future isn’t about sacrificing your dreams. It’s about planning and management, establishing goals, and creating a road map to get you there.

The payoff for proper planning is life lived to the fullest, while staying within your means. And that’s a road worth travelling.

A qualified financial planner can help you plan for the future while enjoying life today. FPSC’s Find a Planner or Certificant tool can put you in touch with someone in your area.

For more on achieving your financial goals, read Live your bucket list: 8 ways to turn goals into reality6 ways to balance your financial priorities and To realize your dreams faster, act now.