By Paige Ryan Heitzmann
“Play and fun should be serious priorities throughout life.”
“When little things feel extra hard and big things feel impossible, it’s often a sign that you need a vacation,” suggests psychotherapist and author Charlotte Fox Weber. This winter, you probably could stand to get out of town, whether that’s for a personal vacation or a family visit.
If you’re planning a getaway, let’s specify that it must have a slower pace, offer simple choices and fit your budget. You can consider several options at moderate prices, which is especially helpful given the impact of inflation this year.
• To get started, consider driving rather than flying for a big money saver. Yes, that’s even the case when you factor in higher-priced gasoline nationwide. Our U.S. carriers, Delta, American, United, and Southwest, have not reinstated all the air routes they dropped during the pandemic. There are fewer seats for sale across the country during this busy period, and as a result, airfare is very expensive. If money is tight, a road trip may be your best bet.
If that’s the case, let’s drive east and take our time. Of course, you can go west if you prefer, but I think traveling east is best because the fun starts sooner. If you’re headed to Florida, for instance, there will be lots of places to stop, eat, shop and sightsee. Prepare a list of a few lodging options along the route with indoor swimming pools and morning breakfast. As you travel at a relaxed pace, you’ll be able to call it a day when you please.
• Have you ever considered a family train trip? There are short excursions that may be just right for an after- Christmas getaway. For instance, you can drive to the Hattiesburg station to board a train to Birmingham, Alabama, which offers Vulcan Park and Museum, malls and many family-friendly accommodations. You can rent a car for a couple days to sightsee. When you take a train, which is a fun and often more affordable mode of travel, you can bring snacks or pack a picnic with your families’ favorites to eat on board — or you can purchase snacks and meals during the ride.
Whatever type of getaway you choose, do your homework and plan as far in advance as possible; that’s how you will get the best price and greatest availability. You may be able to put down a deposit and make payments over several months before your final payment comes due.
Encourage children to save money for the vacation as well. Those gift shops always have something they need to bring home.
Most importantly, resolve not to suffer from “vacation envy” in 2023! You have plenty of options that won’t break the bank.
Paige Ryan Heitzmann, ACC, CTA, is vice president/groups director of Travel Affiliates. Reach her at email@example.com.