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Vacation or Staycation?

Everyone needs time away now and then – from work, school, people, and even from responsibility. Traditionally, families look forward to these times to have the chance to discover, relax, and to engage in activities that aren’t typical day-to-day events. Vacations can be expensive endeavors and they can sometimes be more “work” than they are play or fun. Indeed, a vacation can add even more stress to a family with air travel or long distance drives, and particularly smaller children often aren’t capable of enduring this travel, hotels, and all that goes with the big expensive vacation. Thus, the family often finds itself more tired and pressured than if they had just stayed home.

Over the past few years, the “staycation” has become another interesting and attractive alternative for many families. Seldom do we explore our own hometown or our state or intriguing areas close by. Smaller towns may not offer as many opportunities as larger cities for vacationing locally; but, even with that reality, venturing out to find new things to do can be great fun for all.

Vacation planning is a lot of work and takes time and effort to do it right. It requires thought ahead of time, and here are some of the top things that thought needs to include:

– Timing of the trip

– Place(s) to visit

– Who will travel

– Modes of transportation

– Housing options

– …and more than all of that, the costs involved.

And if no savings have been put aside, then the cost issues become even more critical to assess as far in advance as possible. All who have learned the traveling ropes know that the earlier the search for deals is started, the better the chance to save dollars here and there. Without savings, the use of credit to cover the trip is the reality. If this is the case, be sure your favorite credit card (hopefully a great one with superb rewards) shows no or a low balance in order to use it exclusively throughout the purchasing of all travel related costs and some extra to enjoy sights, sounds, and special events wherever you go. Also, think about the total of the trip in terms of the family’s ability to repay the charged costs within no more than 60 – 90 days after returning home. And remember that those interest charges that add up the longer the fun stays on the credit card may just eat up the savings found throughout the planning and enjoying process.

So, what are the considerations if the traditional idea of vacation isn’t a reality and the idea of a “staycation” seems more of a reality this year? Think about this:

1. The pure lack of savings is probably the best reason to consider different options for taking your annual vacation.

2. Also, if there are very young children involved, their appreciation of travel away, or as it’s sometimes called a destination vacation to a theme park or a large city or even to another country, may not yet hold the value that it might as they grow older and have more ability to absorb those more complex situations and sites. It might be fun and great for parents, but parents may actually suffer from pushing youngsters too far too early in life.

3. No matter the makeup of the family, getting acquainted with your own neighborhood can be inspiring, refreshing, and can bring about a renewed sense of ownership and pride in your locality. And especially for younger school age children, it can give them information to use as they write papers and reports for various classes in school, too. Every state and area has its own charm and hidden treasures with a bit of digging and discovery. Read up on your area and surrounding communities, parks, sites and even food venues. Many communities have within driving distance beaches, mountains, caves, museums and many other sites to explore. How about taking photos throughout the days and creating “memory books” for each child to read for months and years after the “staycation”? One thing for sure, kids love seeing pictures of themselves and reliving good memories with the family!

4. Even mom and dad can get a rest if eating out during the time off, getting a housekeeper for mom and a yard man for dad can be managed. This way everyone gets a break from the routines of daily life without leaving totally.

And again, with no savings set aside specifically for travel, this year may be a great time to get creative and plan something closer to home to save money and to plan a real and more substantial (and costly) vacation for a later date in the upcoming years.

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