Sunday, February 19, 2012

Keeping the Travel Bug Alive by Kristin Wells

Spring is a wonderful time of the year. Flowers are blooming, wildlife is breaking hibernation and babies are being born in the wild. It seems that the world is renewed. The temptation to get away and see it all is nearly overwhelming, except for the fact that it will be months before any national holidays show up and make a three day weekend happen.

Instead of the family remaining in "winter- cabin- fever" condition until a three day weekend, make weekend vacations happen. Spending a lot of money is not necessary; many short trips/vacations are amazingly inexpensive, and some are free.

Sit down and start a family discussion on the subject. Make a list of what everyone would like to do on family weekend vacations. The rules are simple: the vacation should last only a weekend, it should be within so many miles (for travel) of home, and it should not cost beyond an agreed amount. When children are allowed to help in the decision making process, they will eagerly look forward to the trips. Also, make sure to take into account any health concerns of family members into consideration while planning. Some places may not be ideal for someone stricken with Pericardial Mesothelioma because of high altitude concerns.

Here are examples of weekend vacations:

Take a fishing/camping trip for a weekend. Hike, take pictures, fish, play games and relax. See who can find the most interesting looking rock/leaf/flower in the area as a fun little game. Don’t forget to bring food you can grill, if the campground will allow it, with smores as a dessert. Look for inexpensive campgrounds or do a local search for free campgrounds. Some of my fondest memories as a child were camping with family, while my dad told stories.

Take a "home vacation." Pretend your house is a hotel/vacation rental, and see the city you are living in as a tourist. Pack sandwiches, carry cameras, tour museums and do things tourists do in the area. If you need to travel to a nearby town for excitement, make that part of your "weekend trip." The whole family will see the area differently.

Splurge on at least one "weekender" by going to a hotel and seeing a nearby city. Plan the trip and activities around free events such as concerts, plays performed in public parks, or citywide festivals to help save money. Utilizing Trip Advisor is great because it will show you when festivals are based on other people’s reviews of that city. If the carnival or festival is small with few rides/attractions, tour the hosting town. Often times, there are things to see and do that you could not find in a "big city."

Of course, looking for businesses and hotels that offer military discounts should be part of the planning process. Saving money and having a good time are not mutually exclusive; they can walk hand in hand. One or two trips a month will have the children and the family looking forward to time spent together and strengthening your bonds.

Kristin Wells is a recent college graduate from The University of Georgia and an aspiring writer. She wants to make a difference in people's lives through her writing. Kristin also likes competitive cycling, running, and traveling as much as possible. She frequently blogs on Curious Mind Musings.

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