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When Your Vacation Dreams Collide With a Staycation Budget

Once upon a time, planning a family vacation was easy.

When our daughter was small and my husband worked in the tourism industry (meaning our vacation time never converged), I would take her to visit one of my girlfriends down on North Carolina's Crystal Coast. The kids would play or take part in beach camps, the moms would drink wine and we'd chase fireflies, ghost crabs and each other on the beach.

In the years since my husband made the switch to the tech game, we have been able to grab at least a week off at the same time. Most years, we headed down to Atlantic Beach, but we've enjoyed other diversions. One year my daughter and I decided it was high time her daddy visited the Magic Kingdom. Then we did a couple of years of all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean, before heading back to the Crystal Coast again last year.

This year, our daughter has well and truly earned her teenager card and has made her wishes known for Summer 2013. None of her plans really include her father or me.

It's all a bit of a moot point, anyway. The overwhelming need for a new roof, a long-delayed car repair, the inconvenient and untimely death of our 10-year-old fridge, and a few projects to tackle around the house means it's looking increasingly like this year's vacation will be a staycation.

I know, I know. First world problems.

It's all just a bit disappointing, because this is the first year that my husband and I actually have not one but two weeks off together. To salvage it, I tried to cobble together a number of scenarios that keep budget top of mind but gives us (read: me) a must-needed change of scenery, but brokering a vacation between three very divergent interests is a little bit like negotiating a peace deal.

Our friends hope we'll surprise them by arriving at an all-inclusive resort down south a few days after they get there. But that involves whacking up a Visa card. And as much fun as we'd have, I suspect that, in the end, the vacation would be a bit like a one-night stand: You know you probably shouldn't do it, it's a whole lot of fun while it's happening and when you get home, you wish you could go back and make a smarter decision.

As always, the door is open to my friend's place in Carolina and a bed is waiting. And there are a multitude of places nearby where we could camp or just hang out.

If only it were that easy.

The teenager has made it clear earning cash is a priority for her this year and is more than happy to stay home, searching for a part-time job and picking up babysitting whenever she can.

Meanwhile, the husband wants to dedicate the time to laying ceramic tile in the last room to be completely finished in the house, the laundry room. He'd prefer we go off for a week so he can work without worrying about leaving us without laundry for a week. She'd prefer we stay home so she can be available, should she get a call.

I'm the piggy in the middle. After a busy year at work and a less-than-stellar start to the summer, I confess to longing for a change of scene, but it's tough to argue with a husband who wants to finish the house and a teen who wants to earn her keep.

In the end, I think we're leaning toward Puerta Backyarda -- a first, for us, in 10 or 12 years. And thanks to a soul-refreshing blast of searing heat and sunshine, I can finally say, it's all good. Hubby can do what he wants. Teenager can do what she wants. And, in the end, I can do what I want, too.

So, what do I want to do? I want to organize the thoughts I began scribbling down in February which became my very first Huffington Post blog back in March into some semblance of a book to send to a publisher. I'd like to work on some fiction that's been tumbling around in my head for months on end and finish a website for the corporate and freelance work I do. A couple of friends are coming home from afar, and I'm looking forward to catching up with them, as well as pitching in at my godson's birthday party and experimenting a little more with photography by shooting some really cool scenes in my own (geographic) backyard.

No, it's not tropical (although the forecast promises to make up for those grey, cool days that ushered in July) and there will be no hotel staff to fuss over my every need. But my work cell will be turned off and there will be no checking my office email and, for this year, that's going to be good enough for me.

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