If you hate to plan, your last family vacation probably was filled with chaos. I know a thing or two about that.

Here's a memorable scene: It's New Year's Day. I've just boarded a flight from Phoenix to Denver with three kids. Everyone's a little nervous because we have no place to stay in Colorado and nothing to do while we're there. I've just downloaded the Airbnb app on my phone and am frantically searching for places with the help of a travel agent, who is so frustrated with me that she's about to quit.

I'll tell you what happened in a moment. In the meantime, let's ponder a number. In a recent survey conducted by Alamo Rent a Car, only 43 percent of families said they planned their vacations more than five months in advance. In other words, a majority of families don't plan ahead, and some (like me) wait until the last minute.

You don't have to become a statistic. If you find the right travel planning partner, give yourself enough time, and avoid a few common planning pitfalls, you can avoid being that guy on the plane who is about to become homeless.

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