With money being tight for the average family nowadays, the expensive once a year family holiday may seem elusive. What with the price of airline tickets, hotel rental and other expenses, not many of us can afford that. But don’t despair as I’ve put together 5 ideas that you could undertake with some planning (that the whole family can have an input in) and a little bit of money, for some unique family or couples time together on a low budget.
- Long road trip
If you’re like me, this is one thing that you will enjoy. With bus and tour companies like Megabus, you can plan a long sight seeing trip for a day to another part of the country. The longer in advance you book, the cheaper it is. All you need now to do is to pack some travel games, a ruck sack for each person with lunch and snacks, and a picnic blanket in case you find nice spot to relax once you get to your destination. Most buses have wifi so you won’t miss that (if you’re one of those who can’t do without) and you can be sure to meet a new friend or two. See the sights of the country sides or town you’ll pass through, and build memories as you go. This could open up some interesting discussions about other places you’ve been to, animals you see, farms and agriculture. Trust me, taking a long coach trip is worth it as you’re not the driver so you don’t have to worry about road rage and tired eyes and feet. Go on, give it a go.
One of the best ideas for a really lovely time away from home is couch surfing. Ever heard of the idea? If you haven’t, just type it into Google and see. I really think it’s a cool idea and some of my current international ‘friends’ are people who I actually met when they ‘surfed my couch’ or I surfed theirs. The idea is really simple. You create an account (it’s free) on couchsurfing.com. You are then able to host people who are travelling or go on a trip yourself and be hosted by someone. For example, if you live in Detroit, Michigan and want to travel to Florida for a short break, you could contact a couchsurfer a few weeks or days in advance and ask if they’re able to host you for part of, or the whole of your trip. If they say yes, hooray, you will have a warm comfortable place to stay in their home and it’s absolutely free! After your trip, you leave them feedback about your stay and that is viewed by thousands of others who now know that your host was, for example, kind, friendly and a good host. Your host also leaves feedback for you and therefore anyone else you are likely to ask to host you in the future will see what your last host said about you. As you won’t have to pay for your stay, it’s always a good idea to bring a small gift for your host, or offer to do some chore etc. Some hosts are willing to host up to five people at a time! By the way, your ‘couch’ doesn’t have to be a couch but could be some sleeping mats or blow up mattress, or it could be your guest bedroom. Safety is everyone’s priority, isn’t it? Well that’s all factored in, and couchsurfing has ways of verifying that you are who you say you are. I bet you that soon, you’ll be a seasoned couchsurfer.
I never had a sleepover as a child! So now, as an adult, I am making up for lost time! If you have a circle of friends that live near to each other, you can plan a sleepover maybe once a month on the weekend. Here’s how we do ours. All the friends leave all the children at one house with at least two adults to babysit. We (all the adults) then meet up at one friend’s house from, say, 7pm on a Saturday night. We may cook a meal together, eat, play games, watch movies, be rowdy if we want, all without having to worry about the children. For sleeping, we use blow up beds, sleeping mats, etc on the floor. It’s a fun night away from home and then soon it will be your turn to host your friends. What do you think of that idea? Is that something that you would do for a getaway holiday?
- House swap
This is something I’ve heard of but I’ve never actually tried it yet. But I can imagine how it would work. I’ll give you an example. My friend Antoinette lives in a three bedroom house about an hour and a half away from me. My house is the same size. To give each other a change of scene, we could actually swap houses for week or so of the summer break. That way, we get the experience of being away from home and on holiday. Just be careful to treat each other’s home with respect and to respect the family’s privacy as well. You could decide to bring your own shopping, in terms of groceries like food and personal care items. The household bills like gas and electricity should be about the same, so that shouldn’t be a worry. It would be nice to check out your local community to see what events will be on that your friend and her family might like,to attend. I can’t see a major problem as long as both parties treat each other’s property as they would want theirs to be treated: tidy up after yourselves and keep things in order. This one is on my to do list and I will report on it’s success in the future.
- Backyard camping
My bucket list has this one on it too! I quite like the experience of outdoor camping as a fun holiday (as long as my bed is raised off the ground). If you are from a family that loves camping, chances are that you already have all of what you need. For this perfect stay-cation, you ban the use of everywhere in the house except the toilet and shower! Do everything else in your tent or in the back garden. What fun family times can be had pitching a tent, making the meals and the sleeping areas, and playing fun games all in the comfort of your… Garden.
Away time really doesn’t have to be expensive at all, and neither does it have to be very far away. So go ahead and chose your next vacation or holiday from my list and make it an exciting time for all involved. Life is made up of memories like these.