Are you feeling jittery about taking a family vacation this summer? You're not alone. Whether it's your family's safety abroad, the high cost of gasoline or a thin bank account that has you unsettled, this might be a great time to consider a dramatic alternative: a stay-at-home vacation! You can become tourists in your own town by uncovering local gems and taking advantage of the burgeoning number of children's activities offered by state and county cultural and environmental organizations. Contrary to what your kids or travel agent may want you to think, the true definition of vacation is to abandon your normal routine. Do everything differently and you're on vacation. Here are suggestions to help you get a new look at your old environs without breaking the bank. Tourist brochures: Stop by the lobby of the nicest hotel in your city and pick up tourist brochures. Don't assume you already know about everything there is to do in your city. You may be pleasantly surprised. Travel guides: Get the American Automobile Association (AAA) Tour Book for your area. These books are free to AAA members and contain exhaustive tourist information about possible attractions in every city, town and burg in the nation. Local events: Start paying attention to the calendar of events in your local newspaper. Summer is the time for festivals, shows, county fairs and concerts in the park.
Children's museums: There are more than 250 children's museums in the United States, most of them offering free admission on a certain day of each week or month. The Association of Children's Museums (www.childrensmuseums.org) will give you information on a museum in your area. Make plans to visit, even if you're not a kid.
Field trips: Every city has a post office, firehouse, police station, factory or manufacturing business that offers a free tour. If you call ahead, most of these community facilities will be thrilled to take your family on a tour. Many of these tours will send you home with samples or other souvenirs.
Libraries: Some of kids' best summer memories are of long, lazy days navigating through a stack of books. Librarians can guide kids anywhere in the universe through books. Libraries are a goldmine of children's activities, frequently offering reading programs, story hours and movies.
Get creative: There's no doubt that parents' attitudes and moods set the tone for the family. Your excitement about new kinds of adventures and entertainment can become infectious.
Consider new possibilities: Camp in the backyard for a few nights while taking a special local outing each day; sleep out under the stars or in a tent and tell stories around the barbecue; roast marshmallows and drink hot chocolate; turn your home into a "hotel" -- offer room service complete with menus; have an all-night movie extravaganza.
You can simply unplug the answering machine and take the phone off the hook. Take lots of pictures and put together a vacation photo album. The possibilities are endless.
Whether planning a vacation of a few hours or several weeks, at home or thousands of miles away, the most important thing is that you and each member of your family take an interlude from customary duties for a special time of recreation and rest.
Powered by YellowBrix, Inc.