You Need a Vacation

Forget the excuses. You need a vacation and for more reasons that it’s just fun to get away. Research shows that regular getaways may increase longevity by preventing heart disease. In fact, men in a nine-year study who took at least one vacation per year were almost 30 percent less likely to die from a heart-related cause compared with the men who kept their noses to the grindstone. 

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Family vacations are one of my best childhood memories. Being together away from the normal routines of life creates an atmosphere just right for bonding and for making memories to last a lifetime. 

If you can manage the time, I’ve got some tips and ideas to make it happen:

Be realistic about the cost. Consider the money you have first and then design a vacation that will realistically fit within that financial boundary. If you have a family of five and $500 to spend, don’t even think about a couple of days at Disney World.

Be realistic about time. Divide what you can spend by a reasonable daily budget to determine how many days you can be gone. Carefully consider all the costs, not only the admission fees and overnight accommodations. Instead of full weeks, consider day trips or a weekend vacation.

Camping. If you’re careful, camping can be nearly as cheap as staying at home—provided you already have the basic equipment or can borrow it. Kids love to camp! A nice campsite costs about $15-$35 a night. Many campgrounds now require reservations so don’t wait until the last minute to make your plans. The National Park Service website, NPS.gov has all the information you need about every national park in the country.

Gas up the car. Road trips are an American tradition, a wonderful way to see the country and an inexpensive vacation alternative for families with young children. Even if your goal is to get somewhere and stay there, make the drive itself a special part of the vacation. Stop often. Take in every Visitor Center and historic site. When it’s time to fill up, visit GasBuddy.com or GasPriceWatch.com for to find the cheapest gasoline price. Hint: Sunoco gives an immediate $.05/gallon discount at the pump with its gas card. No strings attached!

Meals. Look for family-friendly, residential-style accommodations that include a complimentary breakfast. Take full advantage of it then make lunch your main meal of the day in a restaurant. Pick up food in a deli or grocery store for a dinnertime picnic.

Stay-at-home vacation. If your bottom line says you just don’t have the money available to leave town on vacation this year, don’t let that get you down. Take your vacation at home. Visit your own city as if you’ve never been there before. Go to the museums, theme parks—all those places that tourists visit when they come to your town, but you’ve only driven by. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce. Google your city plus “tourist.” Take day hikes. Visit all the parks within a five mile radius of your house. Clever and creative parents can turn even a tent in the backyard into an amazing camping experience. Change all the rules for your stay-at-home vacation. Sleep in, unplug the phone, stay up really late, endure movie marathons. Above all, enjoy!

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5 replies
  1. lisette
    lisette says:

    We realized that this year we truly cannot afford a vacation. One of us will take a few daysat home to do home repairs and save the cost of childcare for that week. The other will go to work and save the [email protected] time to cover school snow days and other problems.

    Reply
  2. Pigoff
    Pigoff says:

    My mother keeps telling me I need a vacation every year and we argue about it. She has my aunt buy my plane ticket and I always end up going. I know I can’t afford it even with the free plane ticket. I am losing money on my weekend and evening jobs and when I get back to my day job I have to work hard trying to catch up with all the work that came in when I was off. My boss trys to help but sometimes I have to fix his helps. Ha! My brothers email me constantly with problems that I have to solve (not easy when you are an ocean away in another country) and then have to get caught up on all my surveys and stuff is awful too! I would just rather stay home. I love my mom but it is such a hassle to travel now of days. I keep trying to get her to move to the states so she can be closer to us but she won’t listen.

    Reply
  3. Jennifer Ladd Corbin
    Jennifer Ladd Corbin says:

    I love this idea, but need to say that finding the cheapest gas to buy is not always cheaper. I track my MPG on every tank of gas and have found that simply by buying a specific name brand of gasoline I get 2-3 MPG MORE than I get buying cheaper gas. That may not sound like much, but when you consider that over an entire tank of gasoline it is significant. The extra $.05 per gallon that you save on the cheaper gas makes it far more expensive than buying the gas that that costs more at the pump, but gives you better gas mileage.

    Reply
      • Jennifer Ladd Corbin
        Jennifer Ladd Corbin says:

        Yes I have, but we don’t have a station along my normal routes, so it is rare. I find that Exxon and Shell give me the best MPG as far as stations that I normally use.

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