God has arranged life with periods of required stillness. Each day has a night, each week a day of rest, and we’re blessed if each year has a vacation.

But our vacations don’t come often enough or last long enough, so we might feel compelled to pack those few days with as much activity as possible. What’s intended as a time of rest and relaxation can turn into rushing. (Have you ever said, "I need a vacation from my vacation"?) Afterward, there’s the ranting and raving when the credit card bills arrive.

This year, you don’t have to let vacation stress your nerves or empty your wallet. Here are some ideas for low-cost, low-stress getaways:

  • Go camping with a group of friends. If one family has an RV, arrange to share their kitchen and utensils for group meals, dividing the cooking and cleaning between families.

  • When planning a road trip with young children, ask grandparents or another close relative to come along to watch the children, allowing you and your spouse some time alone.

  • Swap homes with friends who live in another city or state, or offer to house-sit for them when they take a vacation.

  • Members of your church might be willing to loan or rent out their condo, cabin or second home. Make sure to leave the home as clean or better than when you arrived.

  • Avoid lodging costs by planning day trips to sights and attractions within driving distance. Make the nights at home atypical: Sleep outdoors, switch bedrooms, read by candlelight, stay up watching movies or have a board-game marathon.

  • On long road trips, use a cooler for breakfast and lunch, eating only dinner at a restaurant.

  • When eating out, look for restaurants that advertise early-bird specials or free meals for kids. Try sharing meals between small eaters. Drinks are expensive, so order only water.

Need a vacation? Get away this summer for some family fun and much-needed rest. By the way, you can leave the credit cards and Tylenol at home – you probably won’t need them.

Sue Cameron and her husband, Craig, had been married 29 years at the time of publication. She was also a speaker and writer on issues of Biblical sexuality, marriage and family.

© 2008 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

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