Life / Money

Staycations a frugal summer vacation alternative

(Special) - With the low Canadian dollar, higher summer gas prices and global travel uncertainties such as terrorist attacks and threats, many Canadians may be having second thoughts about travelling out of the country for their summer vacation this year.

Staycations — stay-at-home vacations — are a great alternative to spending money to travel across the country, to the United States or even overseas.

If you've decided to take your vacation at home this year, there are some things you can do to ensure that you get into that vacation mode — even though you are really at home — and enjoy activities right in your own backyard in your town or city.

The first thing to do is to set some ground rules for you and the family that everyone can agree on and follow to make your time to feel as much like a getaway as possible.

This could include all or some of the following, such as turning off your cell phone, no emails, television, computers or video games and no working from home. Minimizing or eliminating those things normally associated with work can make your time together feel more like a holiday.

If your kids are young, get them on your side about staying at home this summer. Explain why you are doing this but emphasize that you're going to try something new. Ask them for any ideas they might have and then tell them you're going to be seeing your town or city as outside tourists would see it.

Plan for fun and try to create some excitement. Set a reasonable budget and put some money aside for activities like eating out, going to museums, movies, live theatre, zoos, aquariums, science centres or theme parks. Visit new places in your town or city or splurge on an indulgence or two for yourself or partner, such as a massage or pedicure at a local spa or a game of golf at a premium course in your area.

If you're short of ideas, consult your local newspapers or web sites to find out what is happening in your community and local points of interest.

If you want to feel like you're getting away, book a night or two in a local hotel and enjoy the nearby sights, shopping and restaurants the community has to offer.

If you live near a large city which has suburban areas and populations, it's easy to get in the car or use public transit to get into the city for a weekend of fun and relaxation.

You easily can take a day trip to a local beach or provincial park or extend that to a camping trip for a few days or a week. If you already have the gear available, this can be an extremely frugal vacation option that also provides some excellent family bonding time and opportunities.

Check out local cultural events and fairs. Certainly around Toronto there are fantastic theatre opportunities in Stratford and Niagara-on-the-Lake and smaller ones like the Blyth Festival.

Local sporting events such as minor league baseball and football games offer excellent, inexpensive family outings. You can join your local community tennis club if there is one near you, and spend the afternoons at your local community swimming pool.

You could even host a family board game tournament. Invest in a few board games and then set up snacks and drinks. You could even offer prizes for the winners.

If you do decide to stay at home this summer for whatever reason, don't treat it like a second-rate vacation. Get everyone on side, be creative, plan and make it a special time for you and the family. Enjoy what is right around you, and have fun.

Talbot Boggs is a Toronto-based business communications professional who has worked with national news organizations, magazines and corporations in the finance, retail, manufacturing and other industrial sectors.

Copyright 2017 Talbot Boggs

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