By Jill Schlesinger
March 30, 2016

Americans are notorious for leaving their vacation days on the table — partly because of work pressures, but also because they think they can’t afford trips. Financial expert Jill Schlesinger visited MONEY to offer a few vacation planning tips:

Set a realistic budget: Do enough research to figure out costs in advance, and then plug the trip in as a separate line item in your annual budget, so that you’re not scrambling to come up with cash just when you’re dying to get away.

Expect the gotchas: From breakfasts to museum costs to special excursions, make sure you’re budgeting well beyond just hotel and dinner costs.

Save separately: To avoid diverting your travel funds to cover day-to-day costs, set up an automatic monthly transfer that will create a separate pot of money dedicated to your vacation.

Don’t skip time off: Even if you’ve got big costs elsewhere, commit at least to a staycation. To make it special, treat it as you would an out-of-town vacation: Spend time at museums or other tourist spots you might not otherwise have time for, don’t check work email, and avoid blowing that time off on ordinary errands and chores.

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