5 vacation ideas that won’t break the bank | Way of life

A family vacation doesn’t have to include fancy flights to remote locations or luxurious resorts to reap meaningful rewards. So clean up the calendar, craft a budget, and consider these five ideas that won’t break the bank.

1. Go ahead

Plan to participate in a 10k, hike in the canyon or camp in the backcountry. This is the year to research, plan, and execute that big idea you talked about but never had time to organize. Declare it a family affair and make training and preparations part of the fun.

2. Trading houses

Find a friend or family member in a nearby neighborhood who is willing to join in the fun. Think about it: new toys in the closet, bikes in the garage, play sets in the backyard, and snacks in the closet. (Agree up front what is included in the deal.) Exchange information about local walking trails, parks, museums, restaurants and movie theaters. Then enjoy the new view.

3. Commit to a weekend “away”

Part of the holiday mindset is saying no to checking work email, texting, or posting to Instagram. If not for a week, agree to focus on family for an entire weekend.

Visit a new restaurant, catch a baseball game, take a long bike ride, float down the local river in an inner tube, or break out some new board games at home. Check out the local farmers markets for fresh food or head to the brand new ice cream shop for a special treat. If duty calls, let people know your family is on vacation.

The north of the country is home to a variety of sights and is just a day’s drive away. If there is something you wanted to visit, now is the time to go. Some ideas to get you started: the Frederic Remington Art Museum in Ogdensburg, the New York Zoo in Watertown, the Adirondack Fish Hatchery in Saranac Lake or even the Minna Anthony Common Nature Center near Alexandria Bay.

Grandparents can also provide parents with a separate vacation by taking the grandkids to visit local sites for the day or the weekend.

4. Focus on free

Museums, festivals, conferences, parks, concerts and libraries are all sources of family entertainment where admission is often free. Check local websites and create your itinerary at no cost for the duration of your “vacation”.

The Syracuse University Museum of Art is the one that offers free admission to visitors. The Everson Museum of Art, also in Syracuse, offers free admission to children 12 and under and military personnel with proper ID. Other discounts are available. See everson.org/visit for details.

Create your own full-day bike tour or scavenger hunt with special stops that every member of your family will enjoy. There are also plenty of places to go for city hikes in the North Country, like the trails at Ives Park in Canton, Whitewater Park in Watertown, or the Sackets Harbor State Historic Site.

Organizations like Free Tours by Foot offer free guided tours in cities across the country. You have the option of paying your guide based on your satisfaction with the experience. Find out more: www.FreeToursbyFoot.com.

5. Book last minute and local

Check travel websites and tourist offices for last-minute deals in your hometown or a nearby town. Without significant air and gas costs, taking advantage of these simple deals can be worth the minimum outlay. You’ll enjoy the trip knowing you’ve got your spending under control.

Learn more: www.AirfareWatchdog.com, www.Kayak.com, www.GreatWolf.com

Lynn O’Rourke Hayes (LOHayes.com) is an author, family travel expert and enthusiastic explorer. Gather more travel information on Twitter lohayes, Facebook, or through FamilyTravel.com.

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