Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Take A Vacation At Home

Saving Money Tip #145 - Take A Vacation At Home. One of the buzz words in the media this past year has been “staycation.” I know some people are sick of hearing it. But I am a big proponent of taking a vacation where you live. How many people only go to their city or town’s tourist attractions when they have guests visit them? And how many have gotten ready to move out of a town or city only to be sorry that you never got to visit such-and-such place?

If you are among these people, this year might be the chance for you to do some exploring in your own town. Get a guide book for the city or town you live in. If you belong to the American Automobile Association (AAA) or the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) you can get travel books as part of your membership. Or check a tourist book out of the library. Or Google online the name of your town along with the word “tourism” and you will find websites that list attractions in your town or city. If you live in a small area, look for places up to two hours away from you. Two hours is a reasonable drive to do each way in one day. You are sure to find plenty of attractions within two hours of your house. By not paying hotel fare, you can splurge on things that you normally wouldn’t do on a given weekend. After all, this is your vacation. And even splurges near your house would be cheaper than a complete vacation.

Spend a few days doing vacation things – eating out, going to museums, swimming at water parks, hiking on trails, going to tourist attractions, and treating yourselves to vacation-type extras such as ice cream or fun souvenirs. By not paying travel expenses such as airfare, gasoline, or train or bus fare and by avoiding having to pay hotel costs, you can do a vacation at home for a fraction of the cost of one farther away. And you get the added benefit of sleeping in your own bed at night!

In Real Life (IRL) – Every Memorial Day Weekend, people up and down the East Coast flock to the seashore for a long vacation weekend. I love the shore, but I don’t like the crowds or traffic. And the expense of a holiday weekend doesn’t do much for me either. Instead of going away each Memorial Day Weekend, we stay in town and enjoy a relaxing, stress-free weekend. We treat ourselves like we are on a pseudo-vacation, doing fun activities with our family and treating ourselves to special things. Because I am a numbers geek, I like to figure out how much we spent on our holiday weekend.

Here is how weekend stacked up. Friday afternoon we set up the moon bounce (that I bought for $25 at a thrift store five years ago) in our backyard. We invited a friend over for a sleepover and set up our pop-up camper for the girls to spend the night in our yard. In the morning I treated everyone to Dunkin Donuts ($7). On Saturday, we drove to Maryland 30 miles away (estimate of gas cost $7) to a pick-your-own farm. We spent a couple of hours there picking strawberries for a total of 9 ½ pounds (cost $19) and sliding down some big slides on burlap bags that the farm has set up. In the afternoon, the younger children napped, while my husband and our oldest daughter took a bike ride to the festival they had in our town. They enjoyed some amusement rides (with a few complimentary tickets my husband had), some musical concerts, and games ($5). On Sunday, my husband and the girls biked back to the festival in the morning for more fun, while I watched the baby. They got some face painting done and enjoyed walking around looking at the different vendors ($5). In the afternoon we went to a friend’s house for a barbeque. We brought a few pounds of strawberries that we picked as well as some brownies that we made. On Monday I enjoyed a couple hours of solitude shopping at a sale day at a local thrift store ($10). That was my vacation! Then we spent the rest of the day at the festival. We bought a package of ride tickets for $20 and a bag of kettle corn for $5. In the evening I took our two daughters out for ice cream with some free birthday coupons we had for my younger daughter. We ate at home for our meals because we had lots of leftovers. For less than $80 we had a great, fun-filled weekend filled with rides, treats, fun, sleepovers, games, exercise, relaxation, and togetherness.

Had we gone anywhere for our vacation, the gas alone probably would have cost $80, not to mention the hotels, the meals out, and the other entertainment. Instead we had a wonderful weekend full of fun for a fraction of the price and without the stress of driving or crowds. Check out your town or nearby communities and find out where you can take you next vacation.

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