Celebrate Independence Day Close to Home

Even though summer only officially started June 21st, the Fourth of July holiday marks summer’s halfway point for many people. Rising travel costs, however, have many people looking for options close to home for the coming holiday weekend.

“Once school is out, Summer’s the time to step back and take a different view of life,” says Ken Haller, M.D. assistant professor of pediatrics at St. Louis University and pediatrician at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital. “With travel being so expensive, rather than leaving town, look at your community as a vacation spot.”

Some communities, of course, are a vacation destination, especially for the Fourth of July. Places like Washington, D.C., Boston, and Philadelphia are all popular destinations. Fortunately, most communities host some sort of Independence Day celebration ranging from parades and picnics to historic re-enactments to fireworks displays, so there should be something special going on locally even if you don’t live in destination city.

“Look at your city as a visitor would and ask yourself ‘what have we not done around town that tourists typically enjoy?’” Haller says. “For instance, when I was a kid growing up on Long Island, we never went to the Statue of Liberty. There are probably many St. Louis children who have never been to the top of the [St. Louis] Arch or Philadelphia children who have not seen the Liberty Bell.”

Depending on where you live, vacationing close to home may be even more affordable than you think. If you live in an area that is a popular winter destination, such as Florida, Texas or Arizona, you may find that many resorts and attractions offer “off-season” discounts, especially to local residents. These discounts can save you tens and even hundreds of dollars as well as allowing you to experience the very best your community has to offer.

Some tips to help make your in-town vacation an enjoyable one include:

  • Check in to a hotel. Changing your environment will help put you in a vacation state of mind and get you out of your daily routine.
  • Change your schedule. Taking time off from work and letting the kids take time out from their summer activities, even if you don’t go to a hotel will help put you in a vacation state of mind.
  • Plan ahead and give children a voice in the planning. Contact your local travel and tourism board; the historical society; the convention and visitor’s bureau; local museums; local civic, social and educational groups; and even the concierge at the hotel to discover events and activities you may not have been aware of. Don’t forget to check local websites, either, it’s an especially good way to involve kids in the planning process, if they are old enough.
  • Give yourself permission to spend money. Vacations are not free. Allow yourself to splurge a little with the money you are saving by vacationing closer to home. At the same time, stick to a predetermined budget to avoid overspending.

“If you are in the house and see al the things that need to be done – the lawn that needs mowing, the bills that need to be paid, the stack of dirty laundry – it’s hard to give yourself permission to leave it all behind,” Haller says. “If you were out of town, you wouldn’t be able to catch a 30-minute lesson at the pool or sit in for a staff meeting.”

The important thing, whether you are across town or across the country, is to remember that you’re on vacation.

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