Travel resolutions for 2012

Those standard New Year’s resolutions to lose weight and get in shape are good for you but not much fun to keep. So why not make a resolution that is good for your whole family and fun to boot?

That’s what you get when you resolve to travel more. Getting away from the daily grind gives you a chance to focus on family, connect with kids and recharge your battery.

So here are a couple of ways to help you realize that resolution in 2012:

1. Start saving now.

Travel, especially travel with a couple of kids in tow, can be expensive. So it’s important to plan a family vacation on a budget. Start saving today–$10, $25, $100 per week, whatever your family budget can afford. Then you can figure out when you want to travel and you’ll know exactly how much money you can spend on the trip.

2. Do your research.

Yes, you should cruise the Internet to figure out whether you would rather head to Plymouth Rock or Puerto Rico. But the World Wide Web can do so much more. It’s chock full of travel deal sites. Once you find one (or more) you like, sign up for regular e-blast newsletters so you’ll always know when there are too-good-to-pass-up deals for the vacation you covet.

3. Practice packing lighter.

The vast majority of travelers take way too much of home with them when they hit the road. If you’re flying any airline other than Southwest or JetBlue, every one of those big suitcases will cost you–checking four bags on a one-stop round-trip flight could add $400 unnecessarily to the cost of your vacation.

Even if you drive, someone has to unpack and repack all of those suitcases every time you stop to check into a hotel.

So save your money and your back by packing lighter. Limit every family member to one carry-on, roll-aboard bag. (Even a kindergartner can pull a small rolling suitcase.)

Think you could never travel with just a carry-on? Then practice ahead of time. Figure out what you would take on the family vacation, then practice packing it all into the carry-ons. Rolling clothes tightly is the best way to pack more and ensure the clothes arrive wrinkle-free. Plan a coordinated wardrobe of items that do double-duty. Use scarves and accessories to change the look.

Once you have chosen the interchangeable wardrobe and perfected the packing, actually live out of that suitcase for the same period of time you’ll be traveling (i.e., if you’re planning a one-week vacation, do it for seven days). You can test your packing prowess well within your comfort zone: At home, where you can add or subtract clothes as needed.

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