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For some Long Island families, it'll be a staycation this summer

Roger and Ashley Knowles with their sons, Myles,

Roger and Ashley Knowles with their sons, Myles, 3, and Abel, 2, at the Hoyt Farm Nature Preserve in Commack. Photo Credit: Howard Simmons

Kathryn and Brian Lattimer of Plainview used to travel at least once or twice a year before they had kids. This summer, they are staying close to home.

“Having two kids in day care costs more than my mortgage,” says Kathryn, 37, an education administrator. (Brian, 38, works in operations management). “And we recently found out that we will be adding a baby girl to this family this fall so we need to save whatever money we can to prepare for her arrival.”

Between flights, hotel rooms and admission fees to theme parks and museums, the cost of going away, especially for families, can add up. A recent Bankrate survey found that the high cost of vacations is having an effect — 39 million Americans have decided to forgo summer vacation this year because they can’t afford one.

Some Long Island families are in the same boat.

Roger and Ashley Knowles are saving up to buy a house, so they often take their 2- and 3-year-old sons, Abel and Myles, to local farms, such as White Post Farms in Melville, Hoyt Farm Nature Preserve in Commack — which has a mini water park — and Harbes Family Farm in Mattituck.

This summer, the Central Islip couple — Roger, 27, works in maintenance, and Ashley, 28, is an auditor — is planning to take the boys camping and possibly go on a day trip to Sesame Place in Pennsylvania. “My kids are so young it doesn’t make sense to spend so much money,” Ashley says. “They get excited over the simplest things. They would smile the same exact way at the farm that they would at Disney World."

Paying college tuition for two kids leaves little time or money for big vacations, so Joann Di Giovanna, 52, a clerk-typist who works for the Nassau County Department of Public Works, and her husband, Sal, 56, a premium auditor for a nonprofit, instead travel out east to watch their third child, a 14-year-old son, Joseph, play with the LI Junior Ducks travel baseball team.

The Plainview couple will make a mini-vacation out of Joseph’s away tournament in Pennsylvania this summer. “It’s a nice thing to do on a Saturday and Sunday and we enjoy meeting up with the other parents and being cheerleaders,” Joann says.

Real estate agent Tina Webber and her husband, Evan, an aircraft mechanic, say they enjoy taking their two girls, Sophia, 8, and Audrey, 5, to the South Shore beaches or camping at Wildwood State Park in Wading River. Tina, who, along with Evan, is 31, says  visiting Jake's 58 Hotel & Casino in Islandia is almost like taking a trip to Atlantic City or Mohegan Sun.

“In the summers, we just make do with what we have,” says Webber, of Patchogue. “I’ve lived in other states and here, when you’re not working and you’re looking to relax, there’s so much to do.”

Jessica Fischer, 38, and her husband, Frank, 40, both physical therapy assistants, are planning to use a recent tax refund to invest in a vacation home in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The couple, who have 9-year-old twin boys, Alex and Jaydan, rents a home in Holbrook and feels their money can go further down South.

“I am told that I will only need 3 percent plus my closing fees and that will be so much cheaper than I would ever be able to do here,” Jessica says.

Plus, they’ll have an easy and affordable choice when it comes to their next vacation, as tickets to Myrtle Beach can be inexpensive. They plan to rent out the home for the rest of the year to cover expenses.

For Christmas, the Lattimers asked for experience gifts for their two boys — Logan, 5, and Conor, 3 — including annual passes to the Adventureland amusement park. They plan to get a season beach pass and recently bought a family membership to the Wildlife Conservation Society, which gives them admission to the Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, the New York Aquarium, the Prospect Park Zoo and the Queens Zoo. “The best part of living on Long Island is enjoying it during the summer,” Kathryn says. “Also, not that we can afford it, but if I were to choose a time to take a vacation it would be in the winter months, to go somewhere warm.”

Instead of taking vacation, Sara Hernandez, 33, a nurse from Lindenhurst, says she will be saving money. "Vacationing is about building memories, not about how much money you spend on a trip," she says.

Instead, Hernandez enjoys camping in small cabins, as well as hiking, and even belongs to a family-oriented Facebook group called Hike It Baby Long Island, and takes along her 4-year-old daughter, also named Sara.

“Anything with nature is great because it’s a learning experience for everyone involved,” Hernandez says. “Creativity in my child flourishes when outside in the woods or lake. No TVs, phones, loud noises, computers, and we can bring the dog with no issues.”

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