May 22nd, 2013
Colleges are starting to release their students. Other schools are winding down. If you have kids, you know that their minds are on how many more days until they’re free. Free from having to sit for six hours. Free from homework. Free from tests.
As adults, we keep that mentality as well and wish for retirement when we’ll be free from three hour long meetings, paperwork, and difficult coworkers. It’s important that we carve out some time for a vacation during the summer to recharge and get back in touch with that feeling of being free.
When you get back, you’ll have a fresh outlook on how to tackle things that may have been bothering you for months. And you will keep burnout at bay.
Many travel sites offer deeply discounted rates when you buy at the last minute to get completely booked. There are two ways you could go about planning a last minute vacation. The first is to decide on your destination, and then research the best way to get there. The second is to search for the least expensive options, and then figure out if that’s where you want to go.
Also, places that are usually packed in winter have package deals to get people to stay in the summer. So if you like hiking, look into a ski resort to see if they’re open.
Lifehacker offered these recommendations for checking flights:
There are many ways to get a cheap flight. We love Hipmunk, and now Google Flights, for finding great deals. Invisible Hand is also a great way to get alerts when there’s a cheaper flight you might be missing.
But these tools can only take you so far. The best thing you can do is do your own research and weigh your options. When searching for flights, always use a date range search rather than specifics whenever possible. Airlines like Virgin America make this easy as they show you a range by default. Often times you’ll cheaper flights in the evening on weekdays, or simply bylooking for airfare on a Tuesday afternoon.
The key is just to remain as flexible as possible. If you can’t be too flexible with your dates, be flexible with your location.
You can also use travel sites. If you do, be sure you get a confirmation number within 24 hours. If not, follow up promptly. You don’t want to get to your destination and then find out it never went through.
Sometimes, a major expense is boarding your pets. An inexpensive alternative is finding a local teen or tween who loves animals and would be happy to stop by two to three times a day to feed your pets, walk them if needed, and change the water. You can also ask them to water your garden, bring in the mail and newspapers, and keep the house looking like it’s occupied.
Another alternative is taking off only on the weekends rather than for a whole week or two at a time. It’s time to go see all of the cool touristy attractions within a day’s drive of you that you’ve always promised yourself you’d see but never have taken the time.
Step one is choose your experience. If you want to try zip-lining, or finding a wood roller-coaster, or perhaps find an aquarium with a special exhibit, use your favorite search engine. From there, you can move on to step two which is decide on a location.
Also, look into combining activities. For example, you could look into taking the train into Old Sacramento and visiting the train museum. To take it further, you could choose to go during Labor Day weekend when the town is transformed into the Old West.
To minimize the cost of hotels, rent a motorhome. The great thing about recreational vehicles is the built in kitchen, so you can save on the cost of food as well. If you have small children, an RV is fantastic for allowing them to sit in the back and look out the window, or watching movies on the television. It’s easier for them to stretch their legs rather then feeling stuck in a car. And there’s a built in bathroom, but keep a close eye if the RV is bouncing around, or ask the driver to pull over for a few minutes. The largest expense after the cost of the rental will be gasoline.
The key to a staycation is to ensure that no one knows you’re home so you can truly relax. So number one, turn off your phones. Don’t make yourself available.
Set up an autoresponder for your emails that you’re on vacation and that you’ll read your emails when you get back. Unsubscribe from mailing lists, or be put on web only.
Do some things you never do. If you don’t have a housecleaner, hire one to do a big cleaning. If you don’t want to do laundry, bring it to a service. Go try that restaurant that you’ve been reading about. Or have dinner delivered each night.
Spend time outside. Run around barefoot. Make a big pitcher of juice with a lot of ice, and curl up and plan on reading those five books you bought three years ago.
If you have a neighbor with kids about the same age, swap babysitting for a day so you can go out and spend the day with your spouse, or just stay home and relax without having to take care of anyone.
Have a movie marathon. Want to watch the entire Star Wars saga? Or the whole Arrested Development DVD series before the new one starts?
Goof around with the kids. Have a sack race, or a water balloon fight. Then finish up with a barbecue where you toast marshmallows at the end.
The important thing is to find something that will be relaxing and fun for you that won’t increase your stress because you’re worried about the money, or the time.
Where would you go if you could go anywhere this summer?