In the light of the economic recession, many families have had to find alternatives to their usual high-budget, out of town vacations.
This year, when I sat down to plan our annual family summer vacation, I realized that because of the high prices of gas, we wouldn’t really get very far. I had two options: one was to forgo a vacation this year and save our money for a grander family outing in a couple of months. The second option was to go local.
Since I wasn’t ready to face mopey, restless kids during the summer, I decided to see if a fun, local vacation was at all possible. What I found surprised all of us! Not only did we have a great vacation and saved money, we decided we’d take a local vacation every few months to learn more about our town and neighboring cities.
Here’s how you can plan a fun local vacation — or a ‘nearcation’ — of your own:
The first thing to do is find out from friends, family, and other locals about what’s good to do and see in the area. You can also go to specific local groups to get information on little known places. Contact a local outdoors group to find out about natural attractions in the area that isn’t riddled with tourists. Find out from a theatre group about shows and other entertainment that you and your family can enjoy.
Visit Tourist Information Booths
Tourist information booths are a treasure trove of information! Go to a local information booth and get brochures, state maps, and any other information they have. You can even talk to representatives in the information booth and find out about what particular things you shouldn’t miss.
Alternatively, you can go to the library for your information! It’s not a tourist information booth, but there’s even more information in between book covers. Go to your local library and read up on your town. This is usually the best way to find out about historical spots in your area. When you’ve decided what spots you want to go to, you can make a day out of it by dressing up as historical figures for the smaller kids or by holding ghost hunting trips for the older kids.
The blogosphere is the best way to discover inside information. Go to local blog sites and seek out everything from local eating haunts that aren’t frequented by many people to little known attractions that won’t be teeming with tourists. You can even participate in contests that bloggers hold and get great deals from establishments that they team up with. An alternative is to hit the search engines and find out about attractions in towns or cities that are about an hour’s drive away.
The Great Outdoors
Bring your kids to the beach, the mountains, or even to local parks to let them reconnect with nature. Go to ReserveAmerica.com to look for state parks that allow camping. While there, enroll your kids in any survival skills class that’s offered in the area. For the hydrophilic families, check out the local beach, do some water sports, maybe even go for a dive with the whole family. The possibilities are endless with Mother Nature!
The Big City or the Quaint Countryside
While it’s not a cross-country trip or an exotic vacation, exploring nearby big cities or the charming countryside is just as good a trip as any. Use your power of research to look for the best places to go. If it’s your first time in the area, make sure to get a mix of touristy spots and lesser known attractions in your itinerary.
The key to local vacations is to encourage yourself to look at your hometown with fresh eyes. This allows you to enjoy your local vacation to the fullest! Even when working with a reduced budget, with just a little research and a thirst for adventure, you and your family can have a blast this summer while exploring local sights, sound, and flavor.
Maxine Dee is a mother and wife who is dedicated to going green. When not with her family, she works for Treetopia, a seller of artificial Christmas trees.