It happens to many families -- spring break sneaks up! If you don’t have the vacation time to head out of town, or if a family trip isn’t in the budget, consider enjoying local activities while planning for next year’s spring break. Getting the whole family on board can be an educational and fun way to save up, make decisions and plan the trip you and the kiddos have been dreaming about.
When planning for your trip, “research online and do it as a family. It’ll be fun and will teach your kids some budgeting skills. Look hard enough and you’ll find cheaper airfares, coupons and special offers,” says Michael Yardney, author of "Michael Yardney’s Guide to Getting Rich."
And while you’re saving, here are a handful of ways to get yourselves in the mood:
Travel abroad: Heading to another country next year? Expand the family palate before you go. Head to the library and pick up cookbooks or find recipes online from the region you’ll be visiting. Time off is an ideal opportunity to tackle a recipe (or three) that has multiple steps. If you’re off to Italy next spring, try making homemade gnocchi. Have Mexico in mind, simmer your own enchilada sauce. Restaurant dining is always an option as well if you are looking to keep the kitchen clean.
Pick a movie theme: It’s always fun to convert your home into a cozy home theater, complete with pillows, blankets, bean bag chairs and snacks. Simply cater your movie choice to your next trip. Screen "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York" if you’ll be heading to NYC next spring break or watch "Finding Dory" if you’ll be traveling to the Monterey Bay Aquarium in CA.
Start splashing: Okay, maybe your Jamaica trip will be next year, but you can still enjoy some water fun while school is out. Take a mini vacation to Wisconsin Dells and stay in a hotel with an indoor waterpark. With slides, tubes and kiddie pools for the little ones, a day or two away can be just what the doctor ordered. Or save that money for next year’s getaway and plan a few days to swim with the kids at a local YMCA or aquatic center.
Disney World (or Wizarding World of Harry Potter): Is a visit to one of these classic family destinations on your bucket list? While planning for next year's travels, have a staycation watching your favorite character movies and get everyone set up with a piggy bank to plan for next year's trip. You could even get the kids Cinderella piggy banks or buy a Harry Potter mug to fill with loose change.
Be a tourist: If you are planning to visit family members in another city, try being a tourist at home and reporting back. Research things to do around town and choose a new-to-you experience. Visit a museum you’ve never been to or go on a family-friendly sightseeing cruise. Skype or FaceTime out-of-town family and tell them about all of your new adventures. Then plan which activities you’ll do together the next time they come to visit. Or ask them if there is something similar you can all do together next time you take a flight to see them.
Time in the sun: Beach towels, swimsuits and sunscreen. Why not turn your home into a tropical getaway? Move living room furniture to the edges of the room, get the beach towels and sun chairs from the basement and turn up the heat. Put on some beach music and set up a make-your-own smoothie station complete with frozen berries, chopped bananas and yogurt or sorbet (maybe you can even get the kids to experiment with adding greens too). Don your swimsuits, shorts and tropical dresses. Time to start the limbo contest!
Take pleasure in this year’s staycation and dream big dreams for next year’s vacation. Establish your budget as a group and look forward to achieving it. For next year’s vacation, Yardney says, “if you’re flexible with your timing, you are likely to find lower fares and accommodation prices. And be sure to set a daily budget, share it with the family and stick to it. Don’t come back with credit card debt that you’ll be paying off for months at expensive interest rates.”
Fun at home, planning an awesome vacation and wealth building, now that is a good spring break!
This year, Mali Anderson is enjoying a spring break road trip with her family. Everyone is saving up for a beach vacation when winter returns.