By Dr. Russ,
Are you ready for summer? Are you thinking you can't have a vacation or fun with the kids because of the "down economy" and tight family budget? As we approach the Memorial Day weekend and kick-off of summer activities, many of you may be looking for CHEAP BUT FUN, OPTIMISTIC, STAY-AT-HOME, LOW BUDGET VACATION IDEAS.
The At-Home Theme Vacation
- The key to this vacation package is identifying a theme that is fascinating and absorbs your interest; the more absorbing the more the optimism regeneration power.
- This package requires more advanced preparation, planning and research than any of the others described below.
- Identifying the theme: Travel and immersion in another culture provide ripe opportunities for becoming absorbed in the moment and rejuvenating optimism. Other possible themes include some aspect of ancient history, Greek Mythology, the “wild west,” the 1920’s, 1960’s, or rock and roll, gospel or classical music.
- In keeping with the Flex-Time Optimism Vacation Package, immersion in the theme can last for fortnight, a weekend, a day or two or just an evening.
- Thematic Meals: Go to you local library or search the internet for free resources on recipes associated with the theme. For example, make Mexican dishes for breakfast lunch and dinner, or have an evening of French Cuisine (7 courses minimum) for that evening only vacation. Invite friends or family; to stay on budget give them a recipe for a special appetizer, salad or dessert they can prepare and bring.
- Thematic Activities: While learning about meals at the library or on the internet, check out theme relevant activities. If its Ancient Greece consider a pot-luck ancient Toga party. Identify culturally relevant sites in your area to visit (e.g., a museum with an exhibit about some aspect of the theme or culture). Use your library card to check out CDs, documentary movies, foreign films, films set in the culture, travel and other non-fiction books about the cultures customs, games and day-to-day activities, and literature characteristic of the culture or times. Use these resources to plan activities such as dressing up in culturally appropriate attire or playing a favorite theme relevant game. Plan to watch the films and read the literature; sometimes the readings could be done by one person around an evening campfire.
- Lodging: Camping can be done about anywhere in the world and you can pretend to be in Canada, France or Russia while in the comfort of your own backyard. Family or Youth Hostels are available worldwide for really cheap prices as long as you do a little housework before leaving in the AM. Pretend it’s a “hostel” and get the house cleaned, while you are at it! Or, engage everyone in some elaborate roll playing and pretend you’re at some famous hotel. Research the famous qualities of the place and recreate some of its customs (e.g., afternoon tea on the veranda; or chocolates on the pillow case with the covers turned down.)
- An extra benefit: No time wasted on travel to the destination or suffering from jet lag.
Local Sightseeing Vacation
- Use internet, local library and publication resources to identify 14 different sites to see in the local community (within a 1 hour drive or closer). If a site is worthy of a two or more day visit adjust your list accordingly
- Obtain free literature describing the site so that whole family can learn together, in advance, about what to look for and expect at the site.
- Activities: Each day spend the morning and afternoon at the sight. Use the evenings to attend a local free concert or hang out in the backyard playing some games, inside watching a “sight-related” movie or just cooking out and sitting outdoors. If you are doing the evening only Flex-Time-Package start with a quick home-prepared nutritious meal or take a brown bag or picnic to the venue and enjoy an evening of sightseeing as most venues are open until 8 or 9 in the evening.
- Take pictures and videos of the site and your visit. After the visit, post a favorite video on “YouTube,” put some pictures on Facebook, print out favorites and frame, post on the refrigerator, or start a scrapbook.
- Meals: If possible take a picnic lunch to the sight; your budget may allow for an occasional lunch out at the local zoo or venue. Make breakfast and dinner fun by cooking out on the grill or over the campfire, pancakes, waffles, all the fun stuff you don’t do everyday. Have each family member pick a favorite meal they want – make sure they help with the preparation.
- Lodging: I particularly like the “camping in the backyard" lodging arrangement with a campfire, contained in accordance with local regulations, or a simple charcoal grill fire. At the end of the day roast some marshmallows, make some s’mores, and talk about the day and the sights, sing a few songs and end up with a scary story.
Fun Filled At-Home Activity Vacation
- This vacation package involves the most spontaneity and least amount of detailed planning than the other types.
- You might include a few sightseeing trips (see above)
- Make a list of twenty-five or more at home outdoor and indoor (rainy day activities) that you and the family can do together. Water fun (squirt guns, sprinkler, inflatable pool, home made water slide); crochet, soccer, baseball, softball, foam football, badminton, darts. Make sure you have plenty of stuff to do. For a whole day plan a morning and afternoon activity, and spend evenings around the backyard campfire. Camping out in backyard fits nicely if you want plan a tentative schedule, or just take some time after breakfast each morning to pick the activities of the day depending on weather and preference. Occasionally make lunch and or dinner a picnic in a local park. Evenings only? Start with a backyard cookout, then move on to one activity, then go to campout mode with fire marshmallows stories. Raining? Move inside to watch a favorite video. Once or twice order out for your Pizza and have a movie night.
- Meals and Lodging: Check out the "sightseeing package" above.
Extreme At-Home Activity Vacation
- By extreme, I don’t mean ultra-marathons or even marathons, but extreme physical activities for the sedentary life style including walking, running, biking, swimming, canoeing or even horseback riding.
- This vacation package is best suited for adults and children 12 and up.
- Use this vacation package to jump start a new family fitness routine or program.
- Use the same free library and internet resources to plan your activities and days.
- Activities: Identify trails to walk, run or bike for each day or evening. Go to your local pool and start a challenge swimming program setting goals for and charting number of laps completed. Check out an inexpensive canoe rental spot and see what the local riding stable might offer.
- Meals: Same as above for the “Family Fun Package.”
- Lodging: Same as above for the “Family Fun Package.” Or, rent a spot for one or more nights at a local campground, set-up, go back home and walk, run or bike to the campsite. Use the campsite as the hub for your daily physical jaunts.
Explore the Unknown Vacation
- This vacation package involves doing activities you and the family have never done before, but have thought “wouldn’t it be neat if . . ."
- Go Geocaching. Don’t know what that is go to geocaching.com and learn about it. This activity could easily absorb the family for two weeks.
- Go fishing. Already fish? Go fishing at local spots you havn’t tried before.
- Learn a new skill like scrap booking, photography, making videos, boating on local waterways, or take up a new musical instrument. Get some lessons, practice at home, and have a party at the end to show off your new skill.
- Make a list of local events, activities, free seminars at the library or community center, local plays, a movie or two. All of which you have thought about, but rarely or never done.
- Stay at home/home improvement vacation. Start and complete a new project around the house, planting a garden, landscaping, remodeling a room or two. House painting. Involve the whole family;