Vacation on a Budget

Are your vacations so hectic that you need to get back to work to relax once you return?  Are you still paying off your last vacation while booking your next one?  Here’s a way to abandon the stressful vacation payment treadmill, and relax on the cheap this summer.

Get away without going away.
Whenever my husband Skip and I moved to a new city, we were always surprised that people never see the sights in their local area.  We’ve met people living outside of Boston who have never been to Paul Revere’s house and people in Colorado Springs who’ve never visited the Denver Art Museum.

Instead of flying to a distant place and paying for a hotel, why not stay home and visit near-by attractions?  Eat out at restaurants you’ve always wanted to try.  Hike in the nature preserve or ride bikes on the municipal trails.  Take the kids to the water-park on a weekday.

Take time-off to tackle nagging chores.
My colleague Tina is on vacation this week; she and her husband plan to work in the yard.  “I know it sounds ridiculous, but I’m looking forward to it,” she says.  “We have several acres, and we’ve been putting off projects that need doing.”  They plan to mix in some fun, too—playing golf one day and going out to dinner a few evenings.  “If we were away, we’d be stressing over all the things that need doing at home.”

Scale back.
“Before our baby was born, we wanted one last fabulous vacation,” my cousin Tom told me.  His wife, Amy, loves beaches and hot weather, so they hoped to have a tropical vacation, but everything was too expensive.

Looking online at vacation spots, Tom hit on the idea of Las Vegas.  “It wasn’t a tropical island, but it was the next best thing,” he laughed, “and at half the price!”  Amy enjoyed the pool and palm trees.  They splurged on a show and took advantage of the many restaurants.  “We had never been to Vegas before, so it was a hoot just walking around in all the glitz.  We have fond memories of our ‘tropical’ desert vacation!”

Relax and reflect.

Disney World may be on every kid’s list of dream vacations, but does every family vacation need to include packaged thrills?  How about renting a cottage or camping on a lake with friends or relatives?  Banish the TV and electronic games. Take time with your kids and spouse to enjoy nature and each other.  Swim, fish, play board games, look at the stars.  Relax—that’s what vacation is about, after all.

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