March, minus the madness

It's not too late to plan a fun getaway for your family. (Comstock Complete)

It's not too late to plan a fun getaway for your family. (Comstock Complete)

LIZ ANDERSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:03 AM ET

"We're the only ones who aren't going away!"

Is there anything more likely to raise the hackles on the back of the average parent's guilt-ridden neck than the whine of the child who's positive every other member of her class is heading south to bask on a sunny beach. Every single kid, but her!

Each year, you promise yourself you're going to do it differently -- you'll have a great family vacation lined up well in advance of the March Break madness. And every year, it somehow manages to sneak up on you again, leaving you unprepared for anything other than the "worst parent of the year award."

 

The good news is it's not too late to wow the kids with a family getaway they'll never forget and one that you might not have to sell your soul to the credit card company to obtain.

This situation calls for last-minute planning and creativity, but is entirely doable.

If warm beaches are on the wish list but airfare for a family of four is beyond the budget, consider a driving holiday.

If you can add a few days to the break, you could still get in a week at the beach.

The very thought makes you cringe? Remember: Technology has taken us a long way from the days of singing 99 Bottles of Beer and made it quite possible to survive even the longest trips in relative peace and harmony.

Portable DVD players, mp3 players and personal headsets mean that all the small fry in the backseat can stay entertained -- separately. Wires are wonderful things.

While you're likely too late to get rooms in a prime beachfront all-inclusive in either Myrtle Beach or Florida, don't despair.

A quick call to the local tourism office in any holiday hotspot can be a great way to get a list of great, lower-priced hotels and motels within a short walk or drive to the sand and surf.

Most people spend very little time in their hotel rooms on a family holiday in any case, and what you save on accommodations, you can spend on activities at the beach.

Be sure to ask for an efficiency suite so you can do inexpensive, easy breakfasts and stock the fridge with lunch and snack supplies.

PIZZA ON THE BEACH

Treat yourself to a few restaurant meals but have pizza on the beach another night, and cook for yourselves a couple of times and you'll keep the expenditures within reason.

No time for a drive south and back? Consider the huge range of close-to-home holiday options instead.

Introduce your family to the joys of the great outdoors and celebrate all that's best about winter at a Canadian lodge.

Many include snowshoes and cross country ski equipment in their packages and some offer March Break camp programming for kids of all ages. Choose carefully and mom and dad might be able to book a couple's massage while someone else looks after the kids!

If you'd rather stay inside and enjoy winter's wonders from behind a pane of glass, consider a resort that features indoor water facilities, such as the Notawasaga Inn in Cookstown, the Wheels Inn in Windsor, the Delta in downtown Toronto or the Great Wolf Lodge chain of resorts.

If money is tight, do March Break day trips. Many hotel chains offer day passes to their swimming pools, while museums and other kid-friendly attractions often provide special March Break activities at special rates.

Whether you head south or find your fun around the corner, make March Break a time to celebrate the family fun of being together.


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