Child paints with father


10 eco-friendly, budget-friendly March break plans

Mar 10, 2020

A lot of the kids in my son’s class are headed to sunnier destinations for March break, and it has him wondering what our plans are. My big plan? Staying put. Big vacations are pricey and the further we travel, the harder it is to keep it eco-friendly. But I still have lots of simple fun planned.

These are the cheaper, more eco-friendly versions of the most exciting March break vacations I could dream up.

Instead of: A tropical vacation

Try: Setting up a splash pool indoors (with drop cloth, of course!) in your living room and lay on beach towels with some Hawaiian music playing — I’m partial to Israel Kamakawiwoʻole. Make some fun and fruity tropical mocktails to sip out of a coconut!

Why? I’m not going to pretend that this will feel like Hawaii (it won’t!), but it’s a simple way to make some fun memories and daydream of sunny days.

Instead of: Great Wolf Lodge

Try: Spending a few hours at your community centre pool. Bonus points for bringing fun snacks and letting the kids pick some books and DVDs at the library after. The simplest days are often the best ones for kiddos, especially when they get your full attention for a while.

Why? Great Wolf Lodge excels at children’s programming, and this can be your own version of that.

Instead of: Skiing at Mt. Tremblant

Try: Checking out some of the different toboggan hills that are local to you, followed by testing the hot chocolate (or your own at home!) and cookies at nearby cafes. If the snow is melted where you are, grab your rain gear and head to the park to splash in puddles, play with mud and let the kids get messy. Follow up with a warm midday bath at home.

Why? Nothing beats unstructured play, even if the weather doesn’t cooperate.

Instead of: Disneyland

Try: A movie afternoon (check out CBC Gem for kids stuff) with a bunch of fun extras: popcorn, chocolate chip cookies and most importantly, snuggles on the couch with the kiddos for some bonding time. Follow it up by dancing around the living room to your favourite Disney soundtracks. Frozen 2 and Moana soundtracks will be blaring at our house.

Why? Sometimes we all just need a little down time and movie afternoon is one of the best (and inexpensive) ways to achieve that.

Instead of: A European food festival

Try: Attending a maple syrup festival or visiting a local farm. You don’t have to travel far to enjoy fun festivals and delicious food. Maple tree farms and maple syrup festivals are idyllic outdoor settings, and there’s often a pancake breakfast involved.

Why? It’s a yummy way to get the family outdoors and spend time together.

Looking for out-of-the box activities to do during March break? Here are some ideas.

Instead of: Zip lining in Costa Rica

Try: A treetop adventure course. It is so fun for kids and adults to trek through the ropes, trees and wooden walkways in a gorgeous natural setting. There are several treetop trekking adventure courses across Canada (many that accommodate toddlers and preschoolers, too). Check your local listings to see what’s out there.

Why? With ample activities and treks to choose from, kids can burn off some energy in nature.

Instead of: Visiting the Alps

Try: Taking a hike. We are so lucky to live in Canada, for so many reasons. Our breathtaking nature is just one of them. Research your provincial parks, local forests, trails (or even botanical gardens) and pick one that looks fun. Bring along some protein-packed snacks or a lunch and hit the trails with the whole family.

Why? As long as you dress for the weather, it’s guaranteed fun.

Instead of: A tour of Europe’s coolest children’s museums

Try: Exploring local offerings like the science centres, nature museums and children’s museums near you. There are so many options across the country, and many of them might cater to your kid’s unique interests, like a train museum or a dinosaur exhibit.

Why? Because not only is it impossible to answer all of your kiddo’s burning questions! Plus, many museums have children’s programming.

Instead of: A day at the zoo

Try: Checking out a kid-friendly nature documentary like March of the Penguins. Follow it up by reading all about ocean animals with a story like The Big Book of the Blue (or check out the National Film Board's cartoon for kids!). Then build a snow fort with your own little penguins. Make it extra fun by letting the kids paint the snow fort with liquid watercolours.

Why? Themed days are fun to explore.

Instead of: Taking them shopping

Try: Embracing a day at home. Put on some kid-friendly tunes (we love Elizabeth Mitchell), read the kids a big stack of their favourite books, bake muffins, cover the table in a big sheet of roll paper and let the kids paint and create, make a blanket fort or play a family board game. Stay cozy, stay put (and put that phone on airplane mode).

What does your family choose to do? Tell us in the comments below.

Article Author Katharine Reid
Katharine Reid

Katharine is a freelance writer and editor who loves libraries and nature. The former editor of a health website, she now spends her days with her three adorable young kiddos. A big believer in the power of unstructured free play, she can usually be found either going on outdoor adventures with her kids, setting up invitations to play and create, snuggling up to read or escaping the chaos to head to a yoga class.

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