Friday, April 3, 2009

Staycation tip: Plan ahead

Yes, if you wing it on a vacation, you'll probably fly into a wall.

Remember the classic movie, National Lampoon’s Vacation? Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) took his family on a road trip that included asking for directions in a rough part of town, getting ripped off by mechanics and visiting hick relatives who stirred Kool-Aid with their hands. I've watched it at least a dozen times over the years.

Anyway, it was a rough trip for the Griswolds. But it all seemed worth it when the family reached its destination, Walley World. Unfortunately, when the family got to the entrance, a statue of Marty Moose announced this:

“Sorry folks! We’re closed for two weeks to clean and repair America’s favorite family fun park.”

Clark still got his family into the park by buying a BB gun and kidnapping a security guard, but you probably don’t want to go that far. Plan ahead and you won’t be disappointed, embarrassed in front of your kids or led away in handcuffs.

For example, many art museums are closed on Mondays and so are some restaurants. Factory tours, which are a fun idea, usually aren’t available every day. Same goes for a sunset cruise you want to take. If you want to attend some sporting events during your staycation, and then realize too late that the team is on a two-week road trip, you’re out of luck.

Before the vacation begins, have each member of the family make a list of what he or she wants to do during the staycation. Then sketch out what you want to do on each of your vacation days. That allows you to prioritize and see how everything will fit together. You can always make changes later.

*** "The Great American Staycation: How to Make a Vacation at Home Fun for the Whole Family (and Your Wallet!)" is now available. You can find it in stores or online.

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