If you’re in the market for making some awesome memories with your family this year, but a vacation isn’t exactly in the budget, don’t toss in the towel on that dream yet. Commercials may tell you happiness only comes when you choose extravagance like Hawaii or “magic” like Disney, but they’re not the only roads to family fun. Let’s talk about the new, budget-free trend: Be a tourist in your hometown.
The Power of the Family Vacation
In a survey conducted by the Family Holiday Association, 49 percent of participants reported their happiest memory was during a family vacation. FHA director John McDonald refers to these as “happiness anchors” that link us to a positive memory as we process difficulties that arise throughout life.
What a powerful gift to give our children. Sure, material gifts and toys can be fun, but more and more research points toward that family road trip playing the alphabet game or those Wednesday night family dinners or camping together as a catalyst for more joy, improved mental health, and just an overall better shot at a well-balanced life for our children.
What a powerful gift to give our children. Sure, material gifts and toys can be fun, but more and more research points toward that family road trip playing the alphabet game as a catalyst for more joy, improved mental health, and just an overall better shot at a well-balanced life for our children.
So, even if you don’t have the finances to get away right now or the available time off from work, you certainly can have a blast with your family making memories in your own hometown.
Check your city’s tourist info.
What better way to start things off than to figure out what tourists already like to do in your city? A quick glance through your city’s homepage should give you tourist info, event calendars, etc.
You can also Google “your city + tourist info” and start your research there.
Check the hashtags.
You may think hashtags are simply used on Twitter to talk about a trending topic or to add an amusing side thought to your post on Facebook or Instagram. However, there is also a huge networking aspect of hashtags.
For example, if you’ve ever wanted to visit New Orleans, try jumping on Instagram and searching “#visitneworleans.” I gave it a shot and discovered nearly 130,000 times that specific hashtag was used. As you browse each caption, people give great tips about anything from restaurants to lodging to trolley rides to great places to watch the sunset.
How many different hashtags could you search for your own hometown?
Check with your friends.
How many of your coworkers, neighbors, relatives, or other acquaintances have experienced some gem in your city that you’ve yet to discover? Maybe even the cashier or the librarian would have a recommendation worth pursuing. When in doubt, jump on Facebook and ask your friends or a public Facebook group specifically connected with your region. You might unearth your next grand adventure.
One way I enjoy brainstorming family adventures that are outside the box is to check Groupon. Here are three reasons:
It’s great at directing you toward deals in your area.
It gives such a vast array of ideas. (Ax throwing? Sure, Groupon!)
It’s kind to your budget.
Check to see if your city will let you be a tourist for a day.
Perhaps you don’t live in Los Angeles or in New York City where it’s pretty effortless to become a tourist. That doesn’t mean your town’s a bust. Believe it or not, cities are catching onto this idea of getting to know your hometown better and are actually organizing events to celebrate that.
For example, Home Reserve’s headquarters is located in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It’s a medium-sized city with a lot of families and surrounded by a lot of corn fields, so it’s not exactly the hottest spring break destination.
However, it’s full of life, culture, history, and innovation, That’s why VisitFortWayne.com launched a free, single-day event that enables anyone to become a tourist in Fort Wayne. For the past 20 years, they’ve helped natives of “the Fort” take a day to see museums, historical landmarks, sporting venues, and more.
Your journey awaits.
If a tour of your hometown is in your family’s future, then I’d say you have an exciting year ahead. It can be hard to carve out family time, but in a fast-paced world that so often celebrates occupational or financial success above the wellbeing of our families, it’s time to slow down that train (or exit) and dial in the focus on our families. It will be worth it. Every time.
Want more budget-friendly ways to spend time together with your family? Check out these 5 ways to have fun and save money with a staycation.
Do you have a neat memory about a family vacation you’d like to share? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!
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