How to enjoy March Break on a budget
It’s over. Februlaise. The more-than-a-month-long “I can’t face one more day below zero” malaise that seemed like it would last forever. The temperatures are on the rise. The boots are back in the basement. The snow shovel is stored away. And Dad, you’ve probably already broken out the favourite pair of baggy shorts the kids think makes you look like a plucked chicken. Who can blame you? For many in Canada, it’s been a winter for the record books.
What better way for you and the kids to celebrate the end of winter than a much-deserved fun-in-the-sun vacation? You deserve it!
There’s only one problem. This March Break, you and the family won’t be the only Canadians heading south. The loonie is headed south too—way south. According to economists, a combination of unexpectedly poor Canadian labour statistics and a surprisingly upbeat swing in the jobs picture in the US has meant a red-hot American dollar but a loonie in an almost decade-low deep freeze. What that means for you is that the affordable family package get-away you had your eye on could bust your budget. And if you didn’t book ahead, be prepared for some serious sticker-shock. You think this winter was cold? Wait until you see the adjusted prices for hotel, airfare and food.
Don’t despair. There are still plenty of things to do right here at home that the whole family can enjoy — activities and adventures that won’t cost a lot and will make you feel good about sticking to a budget. And who knows? Your kids might enjoy not having to see you in those ugly shorts!
There’s no place like home
Just because you call a place home doesn’t mean there aren’t lots of cool and exciting places to discover. Be a tourist in your own city. Usually places like museums and galleries have special events and exhibits going on catered to families on March Break, so take advantage.
Check for special events at the library or your community center. Most libraries have extensive programming for children of all ages and the costs are generally either free or nominal.
There are probably small communities or towns within a stone’s throw of home that would make a wonderful family day-trip. And whatever you spend on gas will still be a huge savings compared to airfare. Who knows, with the money you save, maybe you cans splurge on a hotel or comfy inn?
Roughing it is fun!
Believe it or not, spring is a great time to see Canada’s great outdoors—especially out West. Contact Parks Canada (888-773-8888) or log onto camping-canada.com for details.
Hotels or water parks
If the weather is nice why not take the kids to a water park. If you have a bit of cash to spare, you might consider one of the many kid-friendly hotels that feature family pools and water slides. If you are in the Southern Ontario area, five really cool indoor play spaces are Amazing Adventures Playland in Burlington, Jiggles and Giggles in Woodbridge, Kids Fun City in North Toronto, Kids Zone Family Fun Centre in Whitby, and More Fun with Bounce in Brampton. For information on play spaces in your area, just go to your municipal websites.
Is it a bird? Or a plane?
The warmer nights of early spring are perfect stargazing weather for you and your junior astronomers. Check out The Big Sky Astronomical Society of Alberta for more information on programs for kids.
Canada is in bloom!
There is no better way to celebrate the end of winter than a family visit to one of Canada’s many botanical gardens. And there are always special programs designed for children young and old. Some of the best include Butchart Gardens, in Vancouver B.C.; the New Brunswick Botanical Garden, Edmundston New Brunswick; and the Regina Floral Conservatory in Regina.
Summer camp? in Spring?
Sure! There are provinces all over Canada that operate spring camps for kids that aren’t expensive and are tons of fun. Lots of the camps offer extended and limited stays–including day camps! Check out provincial or municipal websites for more information.
Why go anywhere?
Turn your house into a weekend getaway and let your kids have a sleepover with friends. How about having a fun movie night at home? Make it even more fun by having a treat-making contest. You buy the fixings and let the kids come up with an exotic treat of their own. It’ll be messy, but it will probably taste delicious.
The point is, March Break isn’t about breaking the bank. It’s about having fun. It’s about sharing and being together. The best part is it doesn’t have to cost a bundle. It will require a bit of thought and planning and some imagination. But there are tons of resources out there to help get you started.