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Bring one pair of comfortable walking shoes as well as a pair of sandals or Tevas. Before you leave home, break in your new shoes so you're not uncomfortable on the road.

Vacation at Home

Travel Tips

Sometimes the thought of planning an itinerary, making plane and hotel reservations and packing up the clan, especially the little ones, makes a vacation sound like drudgery. If you find yourself needing a vacation, but dreading the preparation required, you might consider taking a vacation at home this year. Home vacations can you give you the break you need, without the stress involved in getting your family from here to there with all the necessary baggage. To make the most of your at-home vacation, follow these few simple ground rules.

1. Start with a clean house, and then forget about it! Have the house cleaned, or if you absolutely must, clean it yourself before you go "on vacation." And then don't worry about it. Let it get messy! Nobody will suffer permanent damage if the dirty clothes pile up on the washing machine, and magazines and papers breed like rabbits in the living room. At the end of the vacation, call in the cleaning service again! Remember, you're saving a lot of money by sleeping in your own home!

2. No projects! That means no fix-its, no lawn mowing, no closet cleaning, absolutely no projects! If this is going to be a real vacation, you have to approach it as such, and not spend it futilely trying to accomplish everything on your Super-Person to do list. This week, think of your home as your resort, put your feet up and relax.

3. Lay in a good supply of your family's favorite quick foods, with a special emphasis on picnic fare and quick and easy dinners, such as frozen pizzas, or your own favorite casseroles, made in advance and frozen. Pick up flyers from those new takeout places you've been meaning to try.

4. Plan at least two nights for Mom and Dad to get out without the kids and reserve those baby-sitters in advance. Why not try mid-week? Theaters are less crowded, and you'll find food and service is better at most restaurants during the week than on busy weekends.

5. Plan at least one day just for the two of you, too, to do whatever you like best, or haven't been able to get around to doing in awhile. It might be an afternoon browsing in a bookstore, a movie marathon, fly fishing a deux, or just the two of you home alone. Arrange well in advance for the kids to go visiting.

Now, for the all-important itinerary. Your vacation plans should include all the things you love to do best near your home, but don't often take the time to do. Spend a whole day at the park, lolling around the lake, lazily paddling a rental boat. Just go fly a kite!

Pretend you're a tourist, and take in the sights that you always recommend to out-of-town guests, but never get around to seeing yourself. Pick up a stack of brochures at your local visitor's bureau--you're likely to make a few discoveries about your community!

Check out the places you've been driving past for months, or years, but never took the time to stop in. At-home vacations are a good time to explore all your local parks, museums, zoos and wildlife sanctuaries. And now's the perfect time to explore that state park that you usually feel is just a little too far to drive to. Go and make a whole day of it. Or play tourist in a nearby city. And, of course, now you must tour that exotic animal park out on the interstate! And by all means, include a meal out at one of those fun restaurants you've been meaning to try. Let the kids go really wild for a day at the nearest amusement park. Let them ride all the rides, eat everything in sight and stay till closing. After all, it's your vacation.

We hope the foregoing has given you some ideas on vacationing at home. A comfortable inexpensive alternative to a vacation away, especially when the kids are small or finances tight.

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