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Plan the Perfect Staycation: 10 Easy Tips

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With summer just around the corner, vacation plans begin to emerge. The long two-month break from school causes parents to worry about keeping their children busy and providing a fun but budget-friendly summer.

With rising gas prices and pricey airfare, many parents are choosing to take a 'staycation' instead. Vacationing at home, or the staycation, is growing in popularity among many families. Day trips and local activities make up the staycation. A family is no longer required to leave the country or even their hometown to have a fun and memorable break from work and school.

The increasing time and financial demands on family life contribute to the rising appeal of the staycation. There's no planning, booking or packing necessary when staying at home. Leisurely activities that don't involve long lines at airports or congested highways draw in busy parents. And children are easily entertained when it comes to summer fun.

The price tag of airfare for a family of four to a popular destination like Florida can be close to $4,000.
Throw in a week's stay at a hotel and theme park tickets and the price would soar to well over $6,000. In these uncertain economic times, this cost is not realistic for most families.

Many Canadian cities are embracing the staycation by advertising the appeal to discover one's own backyard. From art museums in Ontario to historic tours in Quebec City to wild life parks in British Columbia, there's plenty for Canadians to do just beyond our doorsteps.

So how can parents create a relaxing yet exciting staycation? Here are some easy tips to ensure your close-to-home vacation is filled with fun:

1. Set a budget: a staycation is definitely more budget-friendly than an extravagant vacation but you should still set a budget and keep in mind what you're able to spend on local activities and outings.

2. Research: take some time to check out what's going on in your city or nearby locations. Visit your local tourism site to find out what events are taking place. Choose your time off from work around fun festivals and celebrations.

3. Have a backup plan: do your plans rely on the weather? Have a plan in place should the weather affect your activities.

4. Trash your routine: one of the most alluring things about leaving home is leaving your schedule and routine behind. Staying local can offer too many temptations to accomplish things like chores and work. Consider a 'no electronics' policy and complete your chores prior to your time off.

5. Do something you've never done before: we're all guilty of not taking advantage of the great things our city or town has to offer. Make a point of visiting that one place you've been meaning to visit. Think like a tourist; if an out-of-towner asked you for advice on activities to do in your city, where would you send him or her? The museum? The art gallery? The local swimming pool? Add those places to your list.

6. Think outside the box: just because you won't be staying in a hotel overnight doesn't mean you have to sleep in your own bed. Pitch a tent in the backyard and have a fun camp out. Or blow up air mattresses on the living room floor and have a slumber party.

7. Eat outside: something as simple as eating outside can create an adventure. Pack a picnic and visit a nearby park or beach; move dinner out onto the deck and have a barbeque; roast wieners over a backyard campfire.

8. Go for a walk: we all too often jump in the car to get around town. The most neglected part of your city or town can be what is virtually just beyond your doorstep. Spend a day walking around the neighbourhood; visit local shops; snack at a local bakery; grab a cold drink at a neighbourhood pub.

9. Document it: capture your staycation on film just as you would at Disneyland! Take your camera and camcorder with you everywhere you go. Consider creating a fun photo book or collage at the end of your staycation to create lasting memories.

10. Enjoy it: approach your staycation with enthusiasm and excitement just as you would if you were leaving the country. Build anticipation; involve the kids in planning; check days off your calendar leading up to it.

A staycation doesn't have to be less than a vacation, except on your wallets! Enjoy your time off from work and some priceless time with your family and enjoy all that Canada has to offer.

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