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Lesley Stern

Lesley Stern

Posted: May 19, 2009 09:17 AM

Just because your unemployment is about to run out doesn't mean you shouldn't be making vacation plans. On the contrary, being broke and unemployed is stressful. A change of setting, new experiences and emotional distance will help you face life refreshed and ready to do nothing with renewed vigor. It's easy to recreate your favorite summer sojourn for a tiny fraction of the price of the vacations you've been enjoying all these years. You just need to know your options.

Spa vacations:

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There's nothing like a trip to a spa to soothe and restore an achy psyche. Well, almost nothing. You can get the same benefits for virtually nothing by taking a short trip through your local car wash. Like spas, car washes offer aqua therapy, exfoliation, massage, buffing, and sauna all at one destination. Some even offer waxing. Just put some new age music on your iPod and you're good to go. You'll emerge buffed, polished and relaxed like a noodle. And if you feel like going all out, take your car through for a cleaning when you're done. It deserves a little R&R too.


Dude ranches:

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You may not be shelling out for a temporary home on the range this year, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy horseback riding in the great outdoors. Even if you don't have a local merry-go-round in your region, every town has a coin operated horse. If you're feeling flush, spend a quarter to experience the horse's lulling gait and the wind in your hair. But just sitting on the stationary horse and rocking back and forth rhythmically can also be extremely soothing.


Beach vacations:

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You don't have to travel to some expensive tropical retreat in order to bury your feet in warm sand and enjoy the soothing sounds of the water lapping on the shore. All you really need is a box of cat litter, a deck chair and a garden hose. Let the litter warm up a bit, turn on the hose, kick back, dip your toes in in the sand, close your eyes and it's just like you're on your favorite beach. Don't forget to put on some imaginary sunblock!


Adventure vacations:

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You can still experience the thrill and exhilaration of high risk activities without spending a cent. Try a pulse pounding sojourn in your bathtub while holding a toaster. Test your endurance and see how long you can hold it above water. Other possibilities include texting while driving 60mph or more (a favorite vacation for the younger generation) or walking through a really bad neighborhood while wearing headphones. Sure, it may not have the cachet of river rafting in Zambia, but at least if you don't survive, you'll spare you your loved ones the heartbreak and expense of shipping your body home .