My family just returned from a quick trip to the nation’s capital. Hanging with family, taking in the monuments on the Mall, and filling our bellies with yummy, West Indian home cooking were the major agenda items. As we enjoy summer and look for ways to enhance the summer days with affordable travel options, let’s also consider doable ways to create memorable, vacation traditions.
1. Create budget for travel expenses and select a variety of options to visit. If you have children, include them in the process of reviewing budgets, entertainment opportunities, and travel details. Develop a template for activities, lodging, travel and food that fit within your budget.
2. When flying, consider cities with a robust public transportation system to cut down or avoid rental car expenses and save money.
3. Consider locations where friends/family live to minimize lodging or take advantageous of local expertise on the best things to do and see. Stocking up on quality time with loved ones is a side benefits.
4. Visit the city’s tourism website for tips on festivals, events, and age appropriate travel must-do’s. Google “free” + things to do in your desired destination to add budget friendly pizzazz to your itinerary.
5. Pack snacks for pint-sized travelers.
6. Consider group travel and split the cost of a rental home over traditional hotels to minimize lodging costs.
7. Rental homes also facilitate cooking which is healthier and more cost effective than eating out. A trip to an exotic destination grocery store can also be a family bonding adventure!
8. I love real estate, so we generally contact local realtors and set up appointments to view vacation homes and condos. This serves two needs: 1) I can compare the real estate values in places for potential second home locations and 2) an inexpensive, non-traditional tour of your vacation destination. Offer your agent a tip for their time or gas money if your intention is primarily tourism!
9. Try the local cuisine. Seek out suggestions for authentic restaurants on the outskirts of the general tourist area to experience a flair of the food and people in your host city.
10. Document the experience. Instead of loading up on souvenir knickknacks and doodads, pictures really preserved a treasured vacation over time. Organize a project to create a photo memento. Using your phone, an online photo tool (blurb.com or shutterfly.com), and a few well-crafted captions; you can create a photo book, travel blog, or even Instagram page detailing your travels. Friends can peruse the site if so inclined. I’ve used blurb.com to create a coffee table book from my most cherished experiences. Keep the project simple and produce a draft on the flight or drive home. Busy lives have a way of pushing these projects to the back burner.
Share any fun vacation traditions you share with your family.