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Making The Most of Your Vacation
The average American family takes less than two weeks of vacation per year. Much of this time is spent visiting relatives in familiar places over the holidays, which may get you away from work for a while but doesn't really provide for the full amount of relaxation that you've come to expect from a vacation.
When you are able to take a real vacation, then, make it count with these five excellent ideas for making the most out of your trip.
1. Shop Till You Drop
Your normal shopping trips probably consist of visits to the grocery store, home and garden center, or maybe the local mall if you're lucky enough to have an afternoon to spare with the girls. Now that you're on vacation, you deserve a better shopping experience! If you're in a populated area, look for the nearest outlet mall. These are typically located an hour or so outside of major cities. The Los Angeles and Orlando areas are especially known for their outlet choices, so you're in luck if your next family trip happens to be a Disneyland or Disneyworld vacation!
2. Find the Beach
The majority of American vacations take place within a few miles of a major body of water. If you're going to Florida, the Gulf Coast, or anywhere along the thousands of miles of Great Lakes shoreline, finding a beach is as easy as driving towards the water. Even if you're in the desert, though, there's plenty of water around. Lake Mead in Arizona and Nevada and Lake Powell in Utah boast some of the country's most desirable beachfront property.
3. Pamper Yourself
Vacations are the perfect time to de-stress, so it should be no surprise that you can find day spa facilities just about anywhere remotely touristy. Even if you're traveling with your family, you can probably find time to sneak away and get some world-class pampering while Dad and the kids catch a ball game or hang out at the beach. Massage services typically run between $50 and $100 per hour, while full-service day spas can set you back $300 to $500, depending on the location. Lower-cost options include hotel exercise facilities, which are usually free with a night's stay.
4. Wine and Dine
Whether you're on vacation with your family or just your significant other, chances are there's a bevy of dining choices within walking or driving distance. Cosmopolitan destinations tend to have kid-friendly districts with popular restaurants as well as fancy establishments that you can patronize once the kids have gone to bed. In big cities, you'll have additional options like dinner theaters, concert halls and plenty of themed nightclubs. Best of all, if you and your significant other are looking to get away from the kids for a night, many hotels and resorts offer childcare services.
5. Get Some Local Flavor
Vacations are the perfect time to immerse yourself completely in another culture. Look for historical sites, museums, and interpretive areas near where you're staying. Of course, some vacation destinations are built around these places--Gettysburg, Washington, D.C., and San Antonio come to mind--but there's history just about everywhere. Grab a brochure from your hotel's front desk and go exploring!
Vacations only come around once in a while, so make the most of them! Whether you need some emergency pampering or want to explore an old fort with the kids, your family will love you for keeping these five vacation ideas in mind!
Diane Magruder is a hotel and resort reviewer and, while she's in between destinations, blogs forbarbadosholidays.org where you can find great deals on packages for All inclusive holidays to Barbados. In particular she recommends The Barbados Hilton as a fantastic place to stay.