Tuesday, June 2, 2009

June week #1 - Stay-at-Home Adventures

This summer, a cash shortage need not eliminate the idea of a family vacation. Clever and creative parents can turn time off work into an amazing vacation experience, without leaving town.

Make a plan. Determine the dates of your "staycation." Create a schedule and itinerary that includes activities and meals. Make a big colorful chart and allow the kids to participate in the planning.

Notification. Let everyone know the dates you'll be on vacation. In the same way you would not be available if you were flying to another country, they need to know you will not be available during your vacation.

Think like a tourist. Do an Internet search for the name of your town plus the word "tourist." You'll be amazed at what you discover. We're talking hiking trails, bike paths, community events, museums and playgrounds that you may not know exist. Look for special deals and coupons local merchants are offering.

Change the rules. This is the fun part. Decide to break all the rules during your stay-at-home vacation, within reason. Unplug the phone; sleep in late; stay up later; watch videos; play games; go on bike rides; explore places you've never been. A few days of junk food is not likely to create any serious problems.

Camp out. Kids love to camp, so haul out your basic camping gear (borrow or rent if you need to) and set it up in the backyard. Create a fire pit so you can sit around the campfire late into the night (be sure to use proper care and be mindful of local rules and guidelines). Brush up on campfire songs. Determine that you'll cook, eat and sleep outdoors during your camping vacation.

Unplug. This is the challenge for parents on staycation: Everyone has to surrender cell phones and computers to a central holding area for the duration. Sure, it will be an adjustment, but possibly the best move of all. Let the mail collect, to be opened when you return home. When you are not taking some well-deserved naps, let your kids know they have your undivided attention. That will make this a true vacation because you "vacate" the normal routines and stresses of life.

Story tapes. Check your library for audio books suitable for the whole family. If you're looking to buy, a terrific Internet source is Great Tapes for Kids at GreatTapes.com. Tapes, DVDs and CDs start at about $10 plus shipping and handling, not a bad buy if they become family favorites. I recommend "King Arthur and His Knights" and "The Three Musketeers/Robin Hood," all told by Jim Weiss who spins tales so that a five-year-old can enjoy them. Other family favorites include stories of fantasy and hope such as "The Golden Drum," and "Little Heroes" by masterful storyteller Jay O`Callahan.

Memories: Be sure to take lots of pictures and let the kids help to create a scrapbook of memories. Don't be surprised when they call it the best vacation ever!

*Ideas taken from the Everyday Cheapskate Newsletter

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