The bad economy has forced many families to cancel or alter their vacations this year. Instead of traveling for several days, weeks, or even months as they have in the past, the new trend is to take “day vacations” (also called staycations) that are close to home to save on costs. Staying close to home saves money on gas, lodging, and food compared to traveling long distances.
While taking an extended summer family vacation is a great way to get away from everyday life, taking smaller and shorter vacations close to home can be just as memorable. Taking these day vacations allow you to check out attractions and events close to home that you may never have considered in the past. Since they are cheaper, you can also take more of them during the summer instead of having one longer vacation.
Here are 10 ideas on how to celebrate a summer family vacation that is close to home.
- Minor League Baseball – Celebrating our national pastime is a perfect way to spend some quality time with your family. Minor League Baseball tickets are very reasonable compared to the Major Leagues and the competition is just as good.
- Hometown Vacation – This could include all sorts of activities of things to do in and around the town or city that you live. Have you visited all the tourist locations in your immediate area? This may be the year to check out some hidden places that you normally may have skipped in years past.
- Zoo – Chances are there is a zoo within driving distance of the area you live in. If you think you may visit a zoo more than one time in a year, then be sure to check out zoo packages or even Zoo Reciprocal Admissions Programs. These reciprocal programs can allow you to visit multiple zoos in a given year with just one membership. That is a perfect way to take several day zoo trips in your area.
- Camping – Camping is one of the best ways to get out and enjoy nature with your family. It also can be one of the cheapest ways to take the family on an extended vacation. Normal campground reservations are very affordable compared to lodging at a hotel. You could even have some fun by camping out in your backyard on occasion with your family as a free alternative.
- Beaches and Lakes – One of the traditional summer family vacations is going to the beach. This year, instead of traveling long distances to popular beach destinations, look to visit local lakes and beaches in your area. Most public beaches are free or come with a very small charge.
- Parks – Plan a day vacation to a local park run by your city, county, state as a fun filled event for the family. There are also many national parks that can offer great value for the family vacation on a budget. Thinking about visiting more than one national park? Be sure to look into buying a national park pass for additional savings.
- Museums – Check out natural history museums in your area as a way to vacation on a budget. Most museums are not that expensive and offer discounts throughout the year.
- Fishing – For the outdoors types, fishing in your local lakes and streams can offer fun for the whole family. Be sure to check out your local guidelines on purchasing fishing licenses. Don’t own any fishing equipment? Consider renting some out to save money.
- Summer Camps – Summer camps can be a perfect way to have the kids enjoy activities close to home. For example, the YMCA Summer Camps program has many types of activities geared towards children. These programs typically are not all that expensive.
- Visit a Local Farm – Look at visiting a local farm in your area that offers tours. For those living in the city or suburbs, this can be a great way to get out and enjoy the countryside. Your children can experience plants and animals that they may never have seen before.
Traveling and taking an extended summer family vacation is still important for both your family and the economy. However when money is tight, you can still enjoy all sorts of fun activities with your family while not breaking the budget. The amount of money you spend does not make or break a vacation. It is the quality time that you are spending with your family that is important and lasting.
What other stay at home vacations are you planning this year with your family?
This post was originally published in May, 2009.