Friday, July 08, 2011

Summer Stay-cation

Summertime conjures up ideas of fabulous get-aways to beaches, mountains, far-away islands and rustic campgrounds.  Whether you're a camping family, a traveling family, or a relaxing-by-the-poolside family summer means vacation!  But living on a single income with the current economic struggles, rising gas prices, and the cost of airfare, planning an {expensive} get-away can be impossible.  Even with the best planning and bargain hunting, a vacation for a family of five is just not always financially possible.  

Sometimes vacations are best left to the off-season when airfare is cheaper and hotels offer bargains.  I've gotten accustomed to and quite successful at Name Your Price on  On previous trips we've managed $250 round-trip airfare from the west coast to Washington D.C.  Lodging at 3.5 star hotels for $58 per night and inexpensive car rentals.  We've traveled with no plan in site, just internet phone access while we're on the road and hotel reservations made on the fly.  I know not everyone is comfortable not having a plan, but sometimes last minute can save big bucks.  Granted, I knew the hotels were not going to be full because it was the off-season so we were not concerned.  If we were traveling to a city with a convention during the peak season, I'd make reservations in advance.

This summer we were hoping to visit our hometown in the Pacific Northwest, but it doesn't seem feasible so we're going to try mini-staycations.  I was pretty bummed about not being able to visit friends and family. While driving yesterday, the kids and I were listening to an Adventures in Odyssey cd we received at the Focus on the Family event we attended.  The program was titled "Our Best Vacation Ever" and the episode was on stay-cations!  God has such perfect timing!  I didn't even know the episode was on the disc and my heart was settled.  Listening to the cd came after our oldest son sent me the most precious email,
"I know this trip (if we go) is going to be loads of fun but this thousand plus dollars that we might or might not have why spend it and then not have money for a while.  Having to cut back and really watch it because we don't have much money waiting for dad to get his next pay check.  Why not save it for something for our family or use it just to get by and have a back drop in case something happens?"
Such wisdom from a little guy.  This summer we'll travel to local destinations and see what we can experience close to home on our limited budget.

Recently my parents visited and we've started our stay-cations. I'll post some of our fun day trips.  Before we moved from the Pacific Northwest, we went on a number of day trips.  Sometimes it was just a visit to a local lake and then a trip to a bakery or a visit to an unfrequented park.  The options are endless and the fun is being with family.

A must have if you live or want to travel in Southern California is Fun and Educational Places to Go with Kids and Adults in Southern California.  It is a GREAT resource for field trips, day trips, and vacations.  It is thorough with descriptions of fun spots, costs, and contact information.  

So, if money is tight there's still a lot of fun to be had.  Stay-cations can be the best un-get-away!

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