Is there no extra money left in the budget to take a family vacation this year? Are gas prices keeping the family from going far away? Don’t despair. Families can still enjoy a vacation without going too far or putting too many miles on the car. Vacation like a tourist in one’s own home town or the surrounding area and have just as much fun as taking a trip to another part of the country.
Think about it. Family vacations generally mean endless packing and unpacking, long days in the car or long waits in airports, and long hours in crowded places. For most parents, by the end of a family vacation they need a vacation just to recuperate. A vacation at home will not only save money, but also the parent’s sanity. Here are some ideas on how to have a great family vacation without going too far away.
Set Some Vacation Rules
Vacation means that even Mom gets to take the week off. So, for the entire vacation there will be no cooking, cleaning or laundry being done. Computers should be turned off, as well as the television set and video games. Phones should only be used for communicating with each other or to make restaurant reservations. Vacation means no work and spending time together as a family, so pretend to not be at home and act like the family really is on vacation.
Enjoy Local Tourist Activities
Try new restaurants. Does the family generally eat in the same few restaurants on a regular basis? During this vacation at home try eating in at least one different restaurant each day. Try a different cuisine or eat at a more expensive restaurant. Mix it up so it feels like the family is having new experiences during the vacation.
Act like a tourist. Go to the local chamber of commerce and pick up brochures about sites to visit in the area. Many people are surprised at how many places they haven’t visited in their area that are popular or famous attractions. Take a day or two to visit these sites. It’s surprising how much fun the family will have learning about these local sites.
Be sure to visit gift shops in town and at the tourist sites too. Often people forget about these small shops and head out to the mall instead for quick shopping. Small gift shops are great places to find fun and interesting items that can be picked up later for birthday and Christmas presents. Visiting these places will really make the family feel like tourists.
Visit local amusement parks. Forget about Disney World (unless it is close by) and spend a day at a nearby amusement park. Ride the rides, eat lots of junk and take pictures of the family doing goofy things. The family will have just as much fun creating family memories as they would at some far-off amusement park.
Soak in some local culture. Take in a play, musical or even a ballet. Go to a big production (if one is nearby) or the local playhouse and enjoy the entertainment. Most families don’t make the effort to go to these performances so this can be a wonderful experience for the family to share.
Enjoy the Great Outdoors
Get active. Take advantage of area activities like the beach, hiking trails or biking trails. State and national parks are great places to visit for a picnic or hiking. Spend a day at the beach and visit the shops on the wharf or in the beach towns. Enjoy the outdoors as much as possible like the family would on an actual vacation.
Be a good sport. Catch a baseball game and enjoy the hot dogs and popcorn. Don’t live near a huge stadium? Then go to a local game or sit and watch a little league game. As long as the family is enjoying an activity together then it doesn’t matter how professional the team is.
Be sure to take plenty of pictures just as if the family was away on vacation. It will feel more like a vacation with a camera in hand and the family will remember this special vacation more vividly years from now having pictures to look at and enjoy.
What to Do When the Vacation is Over
When the vacation is over treat Mom to the luxury of a maid to clean up the mess the house became while the family was having fun. This will help make Mom feel like she was truly on vacation too.
There are so many ways to enjoy a family vacation in one’s own town and still make memories that will last a lifetime. Be creative and plan ahead and the family is sure to have a vacation they will all enjoy and talk about for years to come.