Ready to think about 2017 summer vacation plans? These top tips will get you started in the right direction for an experience to remember.

If you’re thinking about a summer 2017 getaway but haven’t started planning, it’s time to get started. But where should you go, and what should you do? Here are our top five summer vacation planning tips to get you on your way.

Think smaller. Instead of taking one big (and possibly stressful) vacation, consider planning several mini-trips over the summer. Breaking up your vacation days – and spending sprees – can give you and your family more to look forward to over weeks instead of days, and relieve some of the financial pressure that extensive vacations often bring. You’ll also get to experience a variety of locations and cultural experiences without having to jam-pack every activity within a limited amount of time.

Watch your points. Take the time to assess all those frequent flyer miles and points programs you’re enrolled in. Make sure you are taking advantage of any special offers or bonus rewards, and stay on the lookout for freebies or discounts just sitting there, waiting to be claimed.

Book early. Although summer is just around the corner, you still have time to book hotels and flights before prices sky rocket. And keep an open mind – if you’re willing to fly during non-peak times, or even drive to a different airport for departure, you can save money. Same goes for hotels – consider alternatives like Airbnb, or stay at locations off the beaten path and further away from main attractions.

But be open to last-minute gambles. When it comes to vacation plans, “just winging it” isn’t for everyone. But if you’re willing to take a chance, you can often find great hotel and excursion deals at the last minute, when there are no-shows, unclaimed tickets or empty rooms. Call the hotel or business directly, or pop in for a face-to-face visit for inquiries. Be friendly and flexible, and see what happens.

Work with a travel agent. With so many online travel-planning sites and services at our fingertips, it’s easy to forget about our fellow humans known as travel agents. They foster relationships with venues and facilities, and can recommend tried-and-true destinations that really do live up to the slick photographs and reviews you see on websites. Take advantage of their knowledge, connections and experience. In addition, consider all-inclusive cruises or resorts, or destinations that might not be the most popular this time of year – and let your agent find the awesome deals and special offers.

What are your summer vacation planning tips?

Are you planning your summer vacation right now, and what makes the process easier or better? We’d love to hear about your vacation planning tips or related advice. Please leave your feedback below.