If your family is anything like mine, annual vacations rack up emergency room charges, divorce settlements, and years of therapy expenses. Here are a few money-saving musts to make sure your bank isn’t broken while your spirit is.

1. No rental? No problem!

If you can’t afford to book a vacation home, there are plenty alternatives:

  • Every vacation destination has an amusement park. Retch your way through exhaust fumes and regurgitated funnel cake, until you find Satan lounging spread-eagle in a Tilt-a-Whirl. He will accept your soul in exchange for a week’s stay at a two- to five-star hotel, depending on the weight of your sins and how willing you are to flash a titty. Riding the Double Shot in a bikini with Satan is a great way to not get bed bugs at a Super 8.a
  • Lure a seagull with a four-course steak dinner. Barter until he agrees to take you to his seaside property. Befriend the bird’s wife, ask for a tour, compliment their kid’s school pictures— “That couldn’t be little Jimmy! Does the NFL know they’ve got a Seahawk in the making? A Seahawk? Right? We have fun here!”— before suggesting everyone enjoy dinner in the beautiful kitchen that, no, you designed this, Susan!? When the birds explode after eating your alka seltzer-laced mashed potatoes, sleep on their feathered carcasses. It is wise to build your immunity to E.coli and Histoplasmosis in the months prior.
  • Set up camp at a shorepoint church. You might be surprised to learn that these venues exist, as not one has ever been used for religious purposes and most are decoys to conceal pansexual orgies. If you don’t care for sleeping on a cold, hard pew while two men tag-team a potted fern in the confessional, note that air mattresses are welcomed, but repair kits for said mattresses—particularly those with sizeable air valves and flirtatious personalities—are strongly advised.
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2. Encourage declarations of “I hate you” and “Aunt Karen is your real mom” before paying for family fun.

We’ve all been there: Tensions run high after mom lets her favorite redo a mini golf putt, and before the family four holes back can dial Social Services, one sister has kneecapped the other with a club. Next time, remind your relative on the ride over that a ball in the water counts as a stroke, and let it escalate into emotional battery, revelations of family secrets, and garden variety domestic abuse. You’ll still enjoy a surge of competitive rage, without feeling ripped off when a maimed loved one surrenders their life on hole 12.

3. Offer to take a family’s photo.

If you’re white, they will respond enthusiastically. Less so when you rob their 10-year-old.

4. Avoid splurging on pet-friendly hotels, restaurants, erotic masseurs, etc.

Your animal is the centrifugal force that ties you to your terrible family, making it possible to coexist with their mouth-breathing and Croc-wearing. If you’re not home within hours, get a new pet. That little fucker isn’t doing his job.

5. As you admire a vast seascape or gaze at the stars, become suddenly and painfully aware of your insignificance.

Allow the expansive space to consume you in existential suffering. Acknowledge your mortality, run through a list of people who hate you, and recall that time you asked your fifth grade crush what a boner was. If successful, this budget-friendly exercise will keep you occupied beyond vacation, until death finally joins you for the eternal depression nap.

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6. Drown yourself.

7. If played with both fervor and alcohol poisoning, a single game of horseshoes will last days, factoring in vomit breaks and point disputes.

Savor the moment your dad says, “That might do it— that just might do it,” before ruling your toss a half-centimeter away from regulation scoring, the match still 7-6 after forty hours of game play. And as the horseshoe clips your ankle for the third fucking time, thank him for choosing an activity that’s great for your wallet, and an even greater test of your homicidal urges.

8. Take your kids to a free library, museum, or park.

Leave them.

While there are countless ways to save, the best option for staying under budget is to simply pretend someone else’s vacation is yours. Crudely Photoshop yourself into an acquaintance’s Cabo pictures and spend the week at home with your pants off and your hand stuck in a Pringles tube. Your only motive for vacation was to prove you’re not too fat or poor for your high school boyfriend to strike up an emotional affair via Facebook, anyway.

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