Taking a Vacation, Without Breaking the Bank
We all need a vacation and some time to just soak in the freedom of fewer obligations. For many, a vacation is a far-off dream that entails sitting by a salty sea with their feet in the sand. And while that sounds relaxing, there is a lot of time, energy and money that goes into making that dream a reality. There are special supplies to buy, bags (and kids!) to pack, plane tickets to purchase and connecting flights to rush towards, hotels to check into and often a schedule of activities to keep the kids engaged. Whew! That sounds like a lot of work and a lot of dollars go into the popular idea of a vacation (and unless you are a superstar budgeter - much more than you might plan). Here are some tips that can help your family “take a vacation” that requires a lot less stress but still has a whole lot of fun and relaxation packed in:
- Stay at home or close to home
- Don’t overbook your schedule
- Pack light
So, you’ve got a week off from your busy work life and your first instinct is to get away…far away. I understand. Between work, family, pets and taking care of the house, car, lawn and garden, life gets pretty busy and exhausting. By taking the week off though, you have probably released yourself from the single most time-consuming responsibility on your plate, so in a sense you’ve already “gotten away.” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines vacation as “a period of time that a person spends away from home, school, or business usually in order to relax or travel.” See that? Relax or travel. Travel is not required! Staying home can be a great way to maximize relaxation and minimize expenses.
If you feel like you’ll focus too much on things that need to be done around the house, find a hotel in a nearby city (or the same city) for a night or a few nights. Find a room near some places you and your family would like to visit. A friend of mine recently stayed with their family at a hotel just a few miles across town, but it was closer to a museum and the zoo. It feels nice to have someone else make your bed and clean the bathroom. The kids will still be just as fascinated by the mini fridge as they would have been in another zip code and you still won’t be tempted to spend your well-earned downtime cleaning the dirty ceiling fan you just noticed.
The best way to enjoy your vacation and not just take one is to keep your plans low-key. Don’t plan three things to do every day. In fact, don’t even plan one thing to do every day. Please, for your own sanity, leave at least one day you didn’t plan ahead of time. Take it easy, take advantage of a spontaneous idea, have someone take the kids, stay in and play games all day or watch a favorite movie. Just please, don’t plan to be anywhere at a certain time.
If you do choose to go somewhere, whether it is far away or close to the nest, pack light. It takes a lot of energy to pack, lug and unpack a big heavy bag. Evaluate your luggage. Do you really need five extra pairs of underwear and socks and half your wardrobe? How about your straightener? Your make-up bag? Anything that is just in case can probably be left at home unless, of course, it is health related. Please don’t leave your Epipen or your inhaler at home!
The whole point of a vacation is to decompress and prevent us from losing sight of the things we love - the things we work for. So instead of spending two days of your vacation rushing to get there and then rushing to get back and a large chunk of change (which I’m sure we all have need of), spend two extra days just being together and enjoying the life you have built.