Every summer, many American families pack up and set off for a vacation. Whether they go to the beach, the mountains, or the amusement park, just getting away from the normal routine is in order. For parents, being able to relax is high on their priority list, and the kids just want to have fun.
In recent years, the state of the economy has had a large impact on our vacation plans. The most difficult decision for most of us is choosing where to go on such limited funds. In the past, many families took a week- long trip to a resort, took a cruise or flew somewhere, together. Today, however, because of rising fuel costs, hotel expense, and a large food bill away from home, “stay-cations” are quite popular.
Choosing a stay-cation is a common option, now. When you do choose to stay home, you still want to make it memorable for your children, and you want the experience to be fun. Here are a few ideas to make your stay-cation more exciting.
Ideas for Staycations:
1. Take a Trip to the Big City. How many times have you visited the capital of your state? Take an educational and free trip to the capital. Whether it is your state, or a neighboring state, if it’s new to you it can be a fun experience.
If you call ahead (at your local government office), you may can even get a tour set up too. Look at all your city has to offer and plan the day’s activities.
If you aren’t too far away from Washington, D.C., then take a trip to the nation’s capital. In Washington, all of the federal museums are free, and they are among the best in the world. Our family trip to D.C. was one of our best-ever vacations.
2. Switch Homes with Someone You Know. Do you have a friend on that lives near the beach? Maybe they would want to visit the big city where you live, and you can switch homes for a week. Consider someone who lives in the country too, and see what life is like in their town. Think about who you know that lives near an amusement park, close to the mountains, the ocean or a large city. Even a farm could be exciting to someone who has never lived that way. Switch homes for a week, and experience life the way they live it.
3. Build a New Swing Set or Play Set in your yard. If you save the money from your typical vacation, and purchase a swing set for your home, you can enjoy it year-round. Swing sets are very affordable now, and you can choose what you want to spend. They are sized small to large, based on your budget and yard size.
Certain websites sell the swing set hardware kits by themselves, which cuts down on the price. One website is http://www.swingworks.com/, which allows you to design your own swing set and choose what parts you want.
Other swing set companies, like http://www.playnation.com/ will ship a complete set to your door in a ready-to-build kit, with all pieces included in the box.
4. Go camping. Kids love to go camping! Sleeping outdoors under the stars is thrilling for younger children. For adults, it allows you to collect your thoughts away from all of the digital distractions we have come to rely on.
You can buy a tent for around $50.00 now, or even borrow one from a friend and save the money. You don’t really even have to have sleeping bags, as long as you have plenty of blankets. Check out the camping areas within a few hours of your home and save gas.
You will need to book it in advance if it is a state campground, and only go to those with private showers and bathrooms. Search from a website like http://www.reserveamerica.com/ and select what amenities you want. Look for campgrounds with a lake, fishing, swimming, hiking, and a playground, so that everyone will be happy.
Plan to roast marshmallows, tell stories around the fire, grill out and look at the stars. Camping really can be fun! Just check the weather forecast before you go, and plan accordingly.
5. Take a day trip. By taking a short trip of 2-3 hours away, you can still enjoy the benefits of the get-away, but not have to book a hotel. Just plan to eat breakfast before you leave, pack a picnic for lunch, and you are all set for a low-cost quick trip!
Do a radius search from http://www.freemaptools.com/radius-around-point.htm
and see what’s around you that you have never done. You will find things you have never done if you search this way. Search the city of your destination, and see what’s new.
Whenever our family does this, we take pictures and save the trip brochures so that the kids have something to talk about when they get back, and the memory never fades.
6. Create a Themed Week of Events. Plan a day of culture, where you go to the art museum, you paint together, or even take photographs together around the city. You can give prizes to the “winner” for the best artwork, the best photograph or the best video or homemade movie.
Plan to have a week of games for the family to play together, and even allow the kids to make one up, and play it together. For your themed week, you can “visit” other countries by sharing a new food from that culture, talking about how they live, and dressing up. Learn a few words that reflect the language of the country. Do a little exploration on the internet and find interesting things to share over dinner, and make it a learning experience.
7. Give Back to Your Community. Find some local charities that will allow your family to help out, and give back to local residents. You can help at a local food bank, do some clean-up in a city square, or assist at the animal shelter. Call your county information line and see where to start. Your children may not be thrilled at the idea in the beginning, but they will come away with a memorable experience that will change their world view, and open their heart.
8. Have a Party. If you aren’t going anywhere, then why not bring the fun to your house? Host a Summer Bash in your back yard, or even at the local park, where lots of kids can have fun together. Plan some games like sack races, kick ball, water balloons (or water guns) the 3 legged race, or a scavenger hunt.
Be sure to take pictures of every game that you played, so that they never forget the “Summer Bash”. Staying home can be fun; you just have to make it different.
If you choose to have a stay-cation this year, just think of all the money you saved on a hotel concierge service and an activity director! That position is open for you, now. Make this the best summer you ever spent at home!