The Art of the Staycation: Making Your Hometown a Travel Destination
Are you a little worried about planning a “big” vacation since you are unsure how your young ones will hold up to the journey? Or maybe you are on a shoe-string budget and cannot afford an all-out vacation at this time. Maybe you simply want to plan a small weekend staycation for you and your family. One of the simplest ways to make long-lasting memories is to master the art of day-tripping. You and your family can explore your hometown or sites around your region for little to no cost.
I admit it: I’m a bargain hunter. I want the biggest bang for my buck. One of my life mottoes is “Free is my favorite price.” Because of my penny-pinching inclinations, my family has done a lot of hometown vacationing. Here are some ideas for planning your next trip to your hometown.
First, look at where you live with new eyes. If you live in a metro area, there likely are many places around town you have yet to visit. How many times have you realized that you live 30 minutes away from a much ballyhooed museum you have yet to visit? Take the time to plan an excursion there now. Even if you live in a rural setting, there are likely many attractions within a short drive that are worth a gander.
Check for local’s discounts. Often, top attractions will offer discounts to locals, or give discounts during weekdays when there are fewer visitors. Investigate the Web for deals. Can you get a discount if you go during off-season? You will enjoy the cost savings, and if you are like me, you will appreciate the smaller crowds.
A great resource for staycations is your local library. Our family has enjoyed a number of library-sponsored events. Our kids have been able to board a firetruck or helicopter at the library. We have been able to play musical instruments, visit rescue greyhounds, build with Legos, and create some weird science projects at the library. Our library also offers free or discounted entrance fees to some local museums. Some libraries rent telescopes and binoculars. Our library offers an adventure pass which gives our family free admission to a state park along with a backpack full of gadget to use during your visit. Some libraries even loan board games or bicycles. You may be surprised at all the free resources at your library.
Your city or town’s website is another great resources for finding low cost or free events. Summer is a great time to find free concerts, plays, or dance recitals at city parks. Before you say that your kids will not sit through a performance like this, take a chance and try it out. You can leave if the kids get rambunctious. Holidays are good times for special events sponsored by your municipality. Your family could help clean up your community during a city beautification event.
Always be on the lookout for free days at local attractions. Our art museum and science museum have free family Saturdays. Our children’s museum has free events, too. Many zoos offer free admission days. If the actual location does not have free admission, the organization may provide a free community event at a local park. Many locations in the National Park Service have free admission year-round, and all locations offer free admission on select days. These places are top tourists attraction for people traveling to your city, so why not take advantage of the locals’ offerings.
Of course, you can always take a hike, pack a picnic, drive to a nearby lake, camp in your backyard, or visit your neighborhood pool. The advantage of a staycation is that you can take a “test-drive” before you invest in a longer road trip or plane tickets to a destination spot. The day-trip can help you assess your family’s flexibility to altered bedtimes or being off-schedule. If your family has a set routine, a staycation can allow you to test a child’s response to things that aren’t status quo. You can and will make memories that your family will treasure.