Stay Local for Spring Break

By Insurance.com Posted : 03/06/2009

Volunteer for spring break!

Spring break is usually a time for parties and fun trips to sunny vacation spots. With the shrinking economy, however, people are looking to stay at home this year. And if you're interested in helping out around your neighborhood – or someone else's – why not volunteer for spring break? It's the cheapest option! You can take a break from the ordinary while also helping others – and volunteer organizations always need the help.

Volunteers In Pajamas?
Two great resources for finding opportunities near you are Do Something and VolunteerMatch. Do Something focuses on motivating people under 25 to start projects and support each other, while VolunteerMatch works with larger volunteer organizations to promote community involvement. Both places offer plenty of projects, from short to long-term, and VolunteerMatch has the perfect at-home option: Virtual Opportunities. These are projects with no set location that can often be completed using the Internet. Just enter a skill or keyword, such as "computer" and you'll find postings for website design, database development, Internet research and more! If you're passionate about helping the homeless, you'll see hundreds of opportunities to assist – ranging from grant writing and logo design to legal assistance and fundraising. And, if you're looking for work yourself, a volunteer role with a local organization can help you learn new skills and network with interesting people.

How else can you vacation near your home? If you're like most people, you don't think of spending time near where you live as a vacation. However, many people haven't fully explored all of the wonderful options in their own city, much less their home state. Visiting the website or visitor's bureau of a town near you (or your own) can give you some great ideas, ranging from free to moderately priced. As an added bonus, choosing to spend some of your vacation money near where you live will help your local economy (we know that's your main goal).

Your City Rocks – Here's Proof
If you're skeptical that you can stay home and have fun, consider these options for relaxation or entertainment in your local area:

  • Treat yourself at a spa – some offer multi-day packages or are focused on activities. You can even take the opportunity to get a spray-on tan, and tell people you vacationed on a private island.
  • Take a walking tour (either guided or free – some can be downloaded as podcasts). Where will you go? Who knows! That's the point – that you can discover strange and mysterious things about seemingly familiar places. From ghost tours to little-known but fascinating buildings, walking tours are endlessly entertaining.
  • Visit a winery – in the Midwest and Northeast, ice wine festivals are common in March and April, so take the opportunity to enjoy a nice dessert wine. Chances are good that you live near a winery or brewery, and the end of the visit usually ends in a free sample (if you're of age). Who doesn't like free drinks?
  • Investigate local parks, especially national parks. It's a great opportunity to experience nature, and many offer hiking trails and other outdoor recreation.
  • Take a historical or architectural tour – find out more about the place you live or visit. It's likely that important events happened in your area at some time – maybe a president lived there, or a battle was fought near your home. Or maybe the area developed a unique style of architecture. Become an explorer and make discovering the city an adventure.
  • Visit museums and halls of fame (many are free or low-cost). Tourists take trips to these places all the time, but many locals have never been there. Your tax dollars probably fund them, so why not see what you're paying for?
  • Stay at a local lodge or resort – escape without traveling. Just make sure you don't check in with work. You're on a break even if you're close to home.
  • Attend a matinee – movies, concerts, theater or dance. Your schedule is more flexible on vacation, so take advantage of the lower prices for off-peak times by attending an earlier showing of one of these cultural events.
  • Stay at an indoor water park (if you live in an area where the weather isn't predictable). Many of these places are offering special discounts and deals, meaning your money will go further. Combined with the money you'll save on travel, you could upgrade your room or buy something fun with the leftover cash.

Between the State Department alert last month against venturing to Mexico for spring break and the hassle and expense of traveling and staying at a hotel, it seems like a good idea to stay home for vacation. Combined with the smaller number of travelers due to the economy, this can mean bargains and last minute deals if you decide to take advantage of vacation options near your home. And why not find a project to get involved in near you – or start your own? It's a great way to stay local for spring break.

Looking for different information? Have questions or feedback? Please let us know.

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