Catherine Cuddy | Framingham Real Estate, Malborough Real Estate, Southborough Real Estate


Although family vacations frequently require a lot of planning, budgeting, and highway navigating, the benefits usually outweigh the challenges.

Granted, some road trips may bear a striking resemblance to the Griswold family's misadventures in the 1983 movie National Lampoon's Vacation, but, in real life, the majority of vacations do not devolve into a comedy of errors! A lot has changed in the past few decades, too. Thanks to GPS technology, cell phones, the Internet, and online reviews of tourist destinations, travelers are much less likely to get lost, stuck on the side of the road, or discover at the last minute that they've reserved a room at the Bates Motel.

Vacations mean different things to different people. While some families are content pitching a tent at a public campsite for a few days, other people opt for a week in the Bahamas or a lavish winter vacation at a ski resort in Colorado. The good news is that vacationing can be as economical (or luxurious) as you want it to be, and there are plenty of ways to reduce expenses and save money. One example would be to take advantage of off-season rates. Another would be to share the cost of a vacation house rental with friends or extended family.

Regardless of the duration or nature of your vacation, a change of routine and a new environment can be great for every member of the family. Here are a few of the benefits and advantages:

  • A fun vacation not only creates fond memories and opportunities for family bonding, but it also gives you and your kids something special to look forward to and talk about for years.
  • Whether you're a business owner, a working professional, or a student, it's relaxing and restorative to get away from the pressures and responsibilities of daily life. Everyone needs to "recharge their battery" now and then to avoid feeling burned out and overwhelmed.
  • Freedom and flexibility: Vacations are an opportunity to be as active or lazy as you want. In the winter, you can either go downhill skiing or just relax in the ski lodge with a good book, a crackling fire, and a hot drink. If your vacation is in the summer, you can work on your tan or your golf swing -- you decide! The ability to relax, kick back, and have a change of scenery provides people with a welcome relief from their usual busy schedules.
If the idea of a full-fledged vacation seems too time consuming or expensive, there's always the option of going away for a long weekend or planning a few mini-vacations at different times of the year. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that reservations should be made as much in advance as possible -- especially if you're planning to book your accommodations at a popular resort or during peak times of the season.




Every child should experience the joys of building and hanging out in a blanket fort. The lights shining through the blankets giving a blast of color to everything inside... the art of balancing a broomstick just right to stop the whole thing from falling over... the laughter from when it finally does collapse on you. Blanket forts are a blast. It's a way to go camping right inside your house, it's a way to have fun on a rainy day, and it's a way to escape from the reality of your home for a bit. If you weren't fortunate enough to experience a blanket fort as a kid you can start now. Gather your children, your supplies, and start building. Here's everything you need to know about building the world's greatest blanket fort.

Supplies

The best part about blanket forts is that you can build them with whatever you have at hand. There are a few items, however, that will make your fort structurally sound. The bare necessities are:
  • Blankets (as many as possible)
  • Sofa cushions (you'll want to stack these to make a crawl-through doorway)
  • Chairs (to toss the blankets over; these are the bones of your fort)
  • Broom sticks or any other tall pole (to raise the roof)
  • Something to clip blankets with
Aside from those necessities, there are a number of other items you'll find useful. Here are some ways to improve your fort:
  • Lighting. Bring flashlights, christmas lights, black lights, or a lantern inside your fort to illuminate the fun activities you can do inside.
  • Games. Once inside your fort you're not just going to lay there (until bed time anyway). Bring in board games, Jenga, or whatever you have laying around.
  • Friends. Stuffed animals, dolls, action figures... make it a party.
  • Sleeping bags. If your fort makes it through the night you'll want something comfy to sleep in.
  • Food. You can't have the campfire but you can have the S'mores. Cook them in the microwave or toaster oven and eat them inside the fort.
  • Laptop. This is strictly for movies, not for Facebook.

Technique

It doesn't take a structural engineer to build a blanket fort (though I'm sure they'd build a really awesome one that we'd all be envious of). Use the biggest blankets for the largest part of the roof, smaller blankets for walls and objects that can't hold a lot of weight without tipping. Use your environment to your advantage. If the room you're in has anything you can toss blankets over--like a table--or if there are window-sills you can clip blankets to, use these features to optimize your experience. Using slightly translucent blankets underneath the lights in your room will add a nice glow to the inside. If you want it to be more like camping out, turn the lights off in the room and only use lights inside the fort.   The best part of making a blanket fort is that it's your own creation. Use our guidelines to get started, but once the blankets are out--anything goes.



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