The family road trip is that special time during which the people you love pile into a car and set out across this wide continent on a journey of exploration and transformation. It is very much the All American family right of passage. However, the recent decrease of economic standards and increase of gasoline prices have brought about a rethinking of this long held tradition in many families.
These families are choosing to stay closer to home, doing Staycations or short day trips instead of the gas and money guzzling cross country jaunts of days gone by. So what are these new ideas all about? They are mostly about saving money while creating new and novel family memories.
What is a Staycation?
A staycation is a vacation you do at home. In most cases, it can be a less costly, fun filled and/or relaxing alternative to a long, expensive trip. The best thing about it is all the time and money you can save.
So how do you still make it a journey of exploration and transformation?
Here are some creative ideas my family loves:
- Explore your city. Take a look at your hometown through the eyes of a tourist. Check out the local zoo, art museums or water park. Go for a walk on the nature trail. Have a family picnic in the park with a game of touch football afterward. Check out the places tourists visit and you may usually avoid. Creating these local memories has an upside…after the staycation, whenever you pass one of these spots, you will be filled with the memories you created there! Tip: Avoid what you normally do.
- Unplug. The more tech dependent your family members are…this more probability that this could be the best thing you have ever done for family bonding. When you don’t have the distractions of cell phones, texting, video games and television, you have to communicate and interact with each other. You will be surprised at what you learn about each other during these blackout times. Tip: Set one night or one hour a day to plug in.
- Eat Out. Since you are saving so much money staying home, you can eat at a local restaurant at least once a day. Let each family member have a day to chose the eatery. Tip: No chain restaurants. Explore!
- Eat In. This is a fun one. Cook a meal together. Everyone joins in, picks a dish to create and serve. You may have three desserts, but who cares…you are on vacation. Tip: Be flexible and enjoy.
- Camp in the Backyard. This is really fun if you let yourself enjoy the experience. The kids will love it. Make a campfire and cook your meal over it. Sing campfire songs and tell scary stories. Tip: Stay outside ALL night.
- Volunteer. Go help at a soup kitchen or food bank. Give a portion of the money you save this week to a charity. Donate clothing or food to a shelter.
Below are some shots of my hometown…Fernandina Beach, FL.
Once the staycation is over you may find that you want to do some of the above activities on a regular basis. You could have a once a month or once a week family time with some of these ideas. Be creative. Stay flexible. Relax. And enjoy!
Next week I will talk about day tripping to save money.