An Affordable Family Vacation
Have you booked your summer vacation? If you haven’t actually booked it yet, it’s probable that you have planned it – or at least dreamt about it. The cost of vacationing certainly skyrockets when you have children.
Once kids reach the age of two, they cost a full fare air ticket. Because of this, we have friends and family in Australia whom we will not be able to visit until the kids are old enough to stay home on their own. I can’t imagine paying $8,000 simply to reach our vacation destination!!! That’s before eating a single morsel of food, lying our heads down to rest anywhere, or visiting any tourist attractions.
Consequently, Father Miser and I have been self-sentenced to vacationing in North America for the next decade or so. You know, to places we can drive. Last year, we drove to Prince Edward Island and rented a cottage for a few weeks. Not caring much for the fourteen hours spent in the car but wanting to repeat the experience, we have settled for something closer to home this year.
Choosing to rent a cottage or pitch a tent on a local camping ground is an affordable way to escape and relax (as much as it is possible to actually relax with young children).
When deciding on accommodation, it is important to keep a few things in mind:
- Living space: How many bedrooms do you need? Can your kids share a bedroom? Is it feasible for you all to share sleeping quarters (in a tent, for example)? It will most likely rain at least once during your stay, therefore consider a space with a decent-sized common area that can accommodate your entire family comfortably during less-than-ideal weather conditions.
- Kitchen: In order to spend less, you should cook the majority of your meals, even when on vacation. Rent a cottage with a full kitchen or book a camping ground with bbq pits or a shared common kitchen. Try to eat out as a treat only, or when necessary.
- Location: By choosing an area that offers natural recreation (i.e. woods, a lake, a beach, outdoor play structures, berry fields, etc), you automatically reduce the amount of money you will spend on entertainment. If you drag your family to a commercial location, you are bound to be hounded by your kids for gimmicks, toys, rides, souvenirs, and any other tourist trap. But if you choose a cottage, you are more likely to spend your days at the beach, hiking through trails and admiring nature.
If you cannot afford to rent a cottage or go camping this year, try being a tourist in your own city. Most of us never take advantage of what our surroundings have to offer. Visit museums, local parks, bring the kids go-karting or to play a game of mini-putt. Is there a water park nearby? Enjoy a city tour. As a tourist in your own town you will keep costs down by having your house as a homebase for sleeping, as well as for meal preparation.
The one downside to staying home is the psychological aspect of always mentally tabulating your ongoing projects or to-do lists. By renting a space away from home, you get the opportunity to detach from the everyday grind. Of course, such mental freedom usually comes at a higher cost, but it’s well worth it.