A severe decline in travel is being predicted for this summer due to the high cost of gas and related price increases. Hotel and airline reservations are down; cruise bookings are slow. Many families are finding their budgets tightened to the point where vacations simply aren't possible.
But with just a little creativity and an open mind, it's possible to have a vacation experience without ever leaving the state. For instance, you can duplicate both the look and feel of a week at the beach by purchasing five sessions at a tanning salon and using all five sessions consecutively. (More realistic touches can be had by placing a beach towel on the tanning bed to achieve a one-sided burn, or by wearing your sunglasses while lying in the bed.)
To more fully simulate the beach vacation experience, sprinkle sand in your bed sheets, towels, swimsuit bottom, short pockets and shoes. (If no sand is available, clumping cat litter is a suitable substitute.)
You and the family can replicate the amusement park experience by setting a timer to ding every four minutes for an hour and a half. Each time it dings, have everyone in your family take one step forward. At the end of the hour and a half, have everyone exclaim that it was worth every second. Repeat.
To achieve the amusement park aroma, spin in circles until you and/or your children have regurgitated six to nine of your previous meals. Allow resulting mess to simmer for two to four hours. For maximum effectiveness, add hot grease, tanning lotion and bug spray.
To further the amusement park experience, go to McDonald's and request a hamburger with a stale bun and no condiments, then give the cashier a 10. Don't collect any change.
Other inexpensive ways to feel you've have the vacation experience: