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Last minute weekend trips can be fun, but if you really want to make the most of the short time you have to spend vacationing with your kids when they’re young, experts suggest planning things out well in advance.

As Visit Idaho’s tourism campaign so aptly points out, you only get 18 summers with your kids before they are grown-up. When you put it in those terms, it doesn’t seem like a lot of time to work with so it’s important to use that time wisely. “Preplanning is about getting value and saving money,” Rainer Jenss, president and founder of the Family Travel Association, told the New York Times. “You would save money like you would for college. There are families that save for a lifetime to go to Disney.”

The idea behind preplanning is to set up long-term, family travel goals and then have the time to save for those plans in order to make sure that they come to fruition. Planning together gives you something to look forward to during those hectic times and it gives you time to save up a travel nest egg so that when your car suddenly dies you don’t have to worry about blowing your vacation budget on repairs. Planning ahead also helps you save money on airfare, hotels, and other travel expenses. Last minute fares are traditionally the highest.

No matter what your destination is, experts agree that family vacations can impact a child’s lifelong happiness. Preplanning can extend that bonding time you experience during your actual vacation, by giving you a shared goal to plan for to together.

How much time do you spend planning for your family vacation? Share your thoughts in the comments below.