You have to pay the mortgage, taxes and car payments, and that can leave little for a grand tour of Europe or a fancy cruise. But with discipline and diligence, families can save for that trip of their dreams. Here are some ideas to help make the dream a reality:

1. Make a plan // Join a savings club at your bank or credit union, where a set amount is siphoned from each paycheck and sent to an account that you will use for travel. The money will build up during the year, and you won't have to worry about how to pay for the trip.

2. Break that habit // It is amazing how quickly small expenditures add up. Just four to five lattes a week amounts to $1, 000 per year.And smoking regularly is far more expensive. So before you make that daily trip to the corner coffeehouse, ask yourself if you would rather have a mocha today or a cappuccino in Florence a year from now.

3. Bank that refund // If you typically get a tax refund from the federal or state government each year, squirrel that money away in a vacation account.Depending on the size of your refund, you could find yourself with enough money to take that long desired Hawaii trip in just a year or two.

4. Pile up credit card miles // If you charge expenses, consider using a credit card that awards airline miles or hotel points. But keep in mind, it doesn't make sense to run up your debt just to get a free airline ticket.

5. Get rid of stuff // The Recycler, Craig's List and eBay make it easy to unload things that have value but just clutter your home. Why keep that motorcycle you haven't ridden in two years when it might pay for two tickets to London and a West End show?

6. Get higher interest // Don't risk money you plan to spend on a vacation in the next year or two in the stock market or a speculative investment. But consider putting the funds in a money market account or online bank that pays higher interest rates.The difference could be enough to pay for a nice dinner or two in Paris.

7. Know when to book // Generally, the earlier you book a trip, the less you will spend. The best airline fares and cruise cabins tend to sell out first, especially around holidays such as Christmas and Thanksgiving.

8. Pick your moments // Avoid peak travel periods. Consider skiing in mid-January instead of February. Go to Walt Disney World during the slower winter months. Anytime you can avoid traveling to a destination at a time when there is high demand you will save money.

9. Think contrarian // Look for regions that are recovering from storm damage, such as the Mexican Riviera or areas of Southeast Asia. These areas may offer significant discounts to lure tourists back to the region to show that they are open for business.

10. Swap your house // In The Holiday, Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet use homeexchange.com to swap homes in Los Angeles and Britain for several weeks. Such a swap lets vacationers avoid making hotel reservations and allows them to save lodging expenses. Homeexchange.com is a real Web site that for a $59.95 annual membership puts home swappers together. Homelink.org and intervac.com are two other organizations that do the same.

[From the Los Angeles Times]