My Great Idea: Family Home Vacations

by | Jun. 26, 2009


Some years ago, as parents of three daughters under the age of ten, my wife, Kathy, and I thought it was time that we start making memories in the family vacation department. We wanted these events to be something we could do every summer, things that we would all look forward to. But we also realized we must be careful about starting such traditions, as the recurring annual expense can become a plan-altering factor in any given year.

Now we all know that vacations can be expensive, especially when it comes to travel and accommodation expenses. Thankfully, my smart wife did some exploring and found an idea in a magazine about "vacations on a budget." The writer called it a staycation, which incorporated the idea of having a vacation in the privacy of one's own home. We really liked this idea, and we began planning for one.

We decided that, while on our staycation, we would turn off the phones, as if we were really gone - out of town and unreachable. Staying at home meant that our only vacation expenses would be for food and entertainment, and we were willing to really spend the money there. We thought if we could have a five-day vacation with our little family, and spend only five or six hundred dollars making memories, what a savings we'd make!

The plan was this: since there are five of us, the vacation would unfold with each member of our family choosing a theme and the events for one of the five days . . . sometimes with a little help from mom or dad.

Highlights from Past Years

Our eldest daughter, having loved Madeline the little French girl, was interested in "going" to France. We began the day getting some lovely croissants and pastries at a local French bakery for breakfast. Then we went to a children's museum for a couple of hours. Afterwards, we went to an authentic French restaurant for a late but very French lunch. And finally we came home, had a little nap, and then watched the Madeline movie with all sorts of snacks to eat.

One summer, another daughter chose Dinosaurs as her theme. After a simple breakfast, we traveled north to the Dinosaur Museum in Ogden, Utah, and spent quite a few hours exploring, eating, and playing with million-year-old reptiles. Later we caught the then-new animated movie Dinosaur in the theater.

As each new summer would approach, our girls - who now knew what to expect - became more and more inventive. Over the years, we've traveled through a homemade time machine, gone to the Hawaiian Islands, and even journeyed into outer space. And all that for a pretty reasonable price.

Few musicians have impacted a culture or genre as acutely as Kenneth Cope, a composer, producer, performer, singer, and songwriter. His first album was released in 1987, and when the best-selling and critically acclaimed Greater Than Us All (1989) followed soon thereafter, songs like "His Hands" and "Never a Better Hero" quickly became LDS classics. His most recent album, All About You, is a focused return to providing uplifting, contemporary music for everyday worship. Kenneth, his wife, Kathy, and their three daughters live in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Do you have a great idea? A tip for a church calling? A fun and educational family activity? Basically any idea that has made your life a little easier or more fun? We want to hear about it and share it! E-mail your idea to
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