Yikes! The price of gas, lodging and eating out is up and food prices have gone through the roof! We know an important aspect of self-reliance is financial reserves, but how do we do that in this rough economy?

Why not take your vacation at home this year and live like pioneers? Use this opportunity to save the money you would have spent traveling, teach your children self-reliance skills, introduce them to family or church pioneers and have more fun than you thought possible! Just think, all the fun memories of your vacation will be right there in your own home. Each time your children see reminders around the house and yard, they will recall your adventure at home bringing back those warm feelings we create when we spend time together and shut out our daily grind, just like every vacation.

Challenge your family to go as long as they can without using cars, phones, computers and the Internet, and cook as much of your food as possible without conventional ovens and microwaves. Remind your family that this is the way their great and great-great -grandparents lived every day.

Play some of those “old fashioned” games. Games like Dominoes, Checkers, marbles, Graces, three-legged races, wheel barrow races, Blind Man’s Bluff, leap frog, shadow tag, etc. that are quickly being forgotten and replaced with computer and video games.

Make taffy. If you have never done this, you are in for a treat, not only for a sweet treat, but also for tons of laughs as you work together pulling and folding. Your children will love this great treat and the wonderful memories.

Make candles. At night you can use your candles to provide light as you tell family stories, read a book, or play a game.

Make stilts and learn to walk in them. This is a great opportunity to teach children to use a handsaw and other tools. These skills are so important to a self-reliance lifestyle and the ability to care of ourselves during a disaster and when there just isn’t money to hire someone to do the job.

Wash a small amount of laundry and hang it on a clothesline. This may be as simple as having the kids wash doll clothes or other small items to teach them the skill and help them appreciate the convenience of modern machines.

Tell stories about your own pioneer or immigrant heritage. These don’t have to be stories from 1800s, but any family stories you know that will help your children appreciate their own ancestors. Spend some time each evening and have each family member write down his or her feelings and activities that day. Help them to understand this is why we know so much about the pioneers’ experiences, because they kept journals.

All of these chores and experiences will help prepare your children and yourself for a time when there is no power, teach your family to work together, and help them appreciate the blessings and conveniences we have but take for granted.



To play Graces, each player gets a long stick and a ring is tossed from player to player, each catching it with their stick. The ring is anything you can find around your house; embroidery hooks work well.

Shadow Tag

To play shadow tag, choose someone to be “it.” That person then chases the others, just like tag, except they are trying to step on the other person’s shadow instead of touching the person.

Molasses Taffy

2 cups sugar

¼ teaspoon baking soda

2 cups molasses

1 T vinegar

2 T sweet butter

Boil sugar, molasses, vinegar and butter in a pan, stirring constantly in the last part of the cooking until it reaches 255 degrees F. Before removing from heat stir in baking soda.

Pour into buttered jelly roll pan or on to a silicon mat. After cooling off a bit when candy is easier to handle, butter hands and have two people each take one end of the candy ball. Pull the taffy, fold over and pull again. Continue pulling and folding until taffy is light and firm. The more the better. Draw into sticks about a ½ inch in diameter  and cut in 1 inch lengths. If you are going to give some away or saving for later wrap pieces in waxed paper.

Making Candles

To make candles you will need candle wax, a deep pot, cotton cord and a dowel. Place the dowel between two chairs. Cut pieces of cotton cord into double the height plus 2 inches of the length of the finished candle you want to make. For an 8-inch candle, you will need an eighteen-inch piece of cord. Cords are folded in half and each half dipped into a pot of hot candle wax, then cooled and dipped again. Hang several over the dowel to harden between dippings. This is done over and over until the candle is the thickness you desire. This job was often given to the children.

Making Stilts

You will need 1 piece of wood: 2X4, 15.5 inches long,

(4) 3/8 ” wing nuts, (4) 3/8″ flat washers, (4) 3/8″x4″ carriage bolts, (2) pieces of wood 8’x2″x2″

Use a harder wood if possible.

Cut the 2×4 at a 45° angle, forming two congruent trapezoids. The parallel sides should measure 6 inches and 9.5 inches. These two pieces will be the footholds.

On the short side of the footholds, bore two holes 1.5″ deep with a 3/4″ wing bit. These holes should be spaced 4 inches apart (center to center). They will allow the carriage bolts to extend through far enough to get the wing nuts on.

With a 3/8″ bit, finish drilling holes all of the way through. The footholds are now finished. You need to drill eight 3/8″ holes in both of the 8′ poles. Start 6″ from the bottom and drill a hole every 4″ until you are 34″ from the bottom. Place the footholds at whatever height you want (start low), insert bolts, and tighten on the wing nuts with the washers underneath. As you gain confidence and expertise raise footholds for more fun.

To get onto the stilts, either back yourself up against a wall and step up as the stilts lean against the wall or have a trusted, strong friend hold them for you. Beginners often want to hold the poles in front of them, but it is impossible to balance that way. Place poles behind your arms at the shoulder and wrap your arms around the front. If you notice that the bottom of the stilts begin to splinter as you use them, wrap with duct tape to slow the process.

For more fun stay at home vacation ideas check out Carolyn’s ebook Pack Your Bags, We’re Staying Home and her blog at: https://blog.TotallyReady.com. Join the fun on her facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TotallyReady