Summer holidays are a wonderful opportunity to enjoy time together as a family. For many, this means a road trip, a few weeks at the lake, or flights to somewhere exciting. But if money is tight, you may be wondering how to give your family the fun summer they have come to expect. If you can’t afford an expensive vacation this year, don’t despair. You can stay in your own home (saving hundreds in hotel and flight costs), prepare some of your own food (save money and feel much healthier), and still create the feel of a holiday for your family if everyone understands and takes part in the plan.
Adjust Your Expectations
Most people tend to think of distant destinations as more interesting—and depending on your interests that may be true. But there is a lot to learn and enjoy right here at home if one takes the time and energy to explore with “tourist eyes”. Try to think of your home and surrounding area as a place you have never been—if this were a city you were passing through while traveling in a different country, what would you do to fill your time? Hit the Travel Info Centre and look online to learn about local attractions and events. You might be surprised how much there is to do.
Change Your Routine
Parents, if you have some vacation time—or are just wanting to break up the routine of your summer’s unemployment—choose the dates where you effectively “leave” for and “return” from your staycation. During that period, commit to living as though you are on a trip away from home—give your kids the gift of your undivided attention even if you can’t afford to give them their dream vacation this year. Avoid the habit of browsing online and reading Facebook while they watch TV. Begin each day with a plan and a purpose—have the laundry ready and groceries in the fridge so that every day can begin as an adventure. If you must, schedule a bit of time each day where you take care of work or job search opportunities. Dedicate the rest of your time to having fun and being truly present with your family.
Let The Chores Slide
You don’t need to let the mail pile up on the doorstep, but do try to live in your home as though you are not responsible for its upkeep. Don’t worry about cleaning the garage or sorting that basement storage room while you are “staycationing” with your family. When duty calls, plan a “beach day” on the lawn with some good library books and the sprinkler while you get the laundry done and tidy up. Do your best to leave the bills and worries behind for the duration of your holiday from real life.
Spend Locally, When You Spend at All
Remember that if you are cutting back, others are too. What do you want this landscape to look like when the economy improves? If you hope to see a thriving, locally owned business community then do your part to help them survive by spending your money at the most home-grown establishments you can find. That might mean eating at a Ma and Pa restaurant while you are touring the countryside. Perhaps you will stop at a local U-Pick for berries or the farmer’s market to show your kids where their food comes from rather than racing through the air-conditioned grocery store again. Small town fairs, parades, rodeos, chuck wagon races and festivals give a glimpse into local culture while supporting communities at the grass roots level. Would you rather take your kids through a drive-thru or help them learn about the place they actually live?
Hit The Beach
Most of us like to escape the prairie winter by flying to a southern destination and soaking up the sun. But do we take the time to fully enjoy our beautiful summer weather? Yes, we have mosquitoes to contend with. But let’s be thankful that our streets are relatively safe and we don’t have to worry about natural or man-made disasters on a regular basis. Let’s celebrate what makes our area a great place to live. Make day trips to nearby beaches or a camping trip to a local lake part of your staycation plan and enjoy the sun and water without the high cost of traveling.
So Much to do, So Little Time
It’s not fair to promote certain attractions over others in this brief space but if you get looking you will quickly fill your holiday time with trail rides, museums and art exhibits, animals and people that you will be glad to have experienced. Make memories with your loved ones and realize it was never about the money.