Have high gas prices ruined your plans for a road trip?
If you're stuck at home this summer, take a tip from Laura and Tom McKanna: If you're going to spend your vacation at home, do it up right.
"We chilled out together as if we were away in another state by ourselves," she reports after a recent five-day vacation at their St. Petersburg home. "We were relaxed and refreshed and spent only a few extra dollars."
The McKannas are empty nesters, so this was an adult vacation for Tom, 60, a business manager for St. Petersburg College, and Laura, 55, a computer programmer for the city of St. Petersburg. However, families with children also could use their tips for a "staycation".
• Advance planning was crucial. The McKannas each made a list of the things they wanted to do on vacation. Just before vacation time arrived, he mowed the lawn and she cleaned the house so that no chores would intrude on their leisure time.
• They ate well without spending a fortune. The couple treated themselves by loading up at the grocery store on things they don't usually buy. "We bought things like feta cheese and black olives for Greek salad, lots of extra fresh fruits — pineapple, strawberries, watermelon, cantaloupe — seafood, ice cream and cones and almonds," she said. The vacation food bill: $50 more than they usually spend at the grocery store, $8 for one order of Chinese takeout that they mixed with their own chicken and $13.50 for a pizza.
• They enjoyed Florida's natural beauty. The McKannas spent a day at Fort De Soto Park, taking along breakfast and lunch. By getting there early, they were able to grab a prime picnic spot.
• They took advantage of free stuff. The library supplied them with movies and books for the week. And they used their own backyard pool.
• They acted as if they were on vacation, selecting fun activities from their advance lists. "We watched Phantom of the Opera with the curtains drawn and the house dark in the middle of the afternoon," she said.
A vacation needs only two ingredients to be a success: You do something you enjoy and you take a break from your usual activities. You can even have a great vacation working on a volunteer project — if it takes you out of your normal routine and you like what you're doing.
A home vacation might involve a series of day trips to nearby points of interest. Or not. If your life usually is filled with frantic activity, just disconnecting all the phones and computers and relaxing with a good book could be a real treat.