Sunday, May 17, 2009

There's no place like home

Ah, summer. Backyard barbecues, Clearwater Beach traffic, ten-minute afternoon thunderstorms, and the dreaded family vacation.

The kids will be out of school soon and itching for something to do. So upon us once again are the months when families plan a trip to one locale or another, cram three weeks’ worth of activities into seven days, blow their entire savings, and come home needing a vacation from their vacation.

The last one we took brought us clear to Tennessee, with dreams of mountains and lakes and cabins. One look at the brochure, and we loaded everybody up in a van and headed out on the open road. I mean everybody. My in-laws, my huge, angry husband, his brother and sister-in-law, the children and all the dogs. In a van. On the highway.

These things always sound like a better idea than they actually are.

We drove an ungodly amount of hours and spent a couple thousand dollars to sit in a tiny cabin that wasn’t ours (sans air conditioning) in the Land of No Cell Phone Signal. We expected to be imbued with the beauty of nature. Instead, there were fights, mosquitoes, and a rental boat no one knew how to operate. By Day Three, I tried to get in a cab to go to the closest airport to fly home.

And we were broke at week’s end.

In the face of the Great Recession of late, I find it hard to believe families can afford to take off for a little R & R. There has to be another alternative.

What about a vacation at home? A “stay-cation?” Seriously. Follow me on this for a minute. It’s possible to create a getaway experience at home, still do a ton of activities and not break the bank:

1. Get into the mindset by blocking off the dates to go into vacation mode.
2. Have a budget and don’t stray.
3. Put away ALL THINGS ELECTRONIC i.e. PSPs, iPods, laptops, BlackBerries, what have you.
4. Go off the beaten path and find places around Tampa Bay you’ve never had the time to see, like museums, aquariums, art exhibits etc.
5. When planning, go online and look for coupons to print out.
6. Eat out! No cooking allowed. You’re on vacation.
7. And no cleaning, no laundry, no routine things!
8. Buy a couple of souvenirs.

Yeah, it’s not the same as cramming the family into a rental car and blowing two grand at the Orlando attractions, but just think how relaxed and rejuvenated everyone will feel at the end of the week … and not be in debt.

We’ll be the guinea pigs. I’ll let you all know how it goes!

1 comment:

scarves said...

Nice tips for travelling! Just came back from vacation. I followed some of them.