It’s Summer and a lot of families will be heading out on vacation. Last year, my family and I went to Hawaii for our Summer vacation. We had fun and made lots of memories, but the stress of traveling with two toddlers made the vacation, shall we say, less than relaxing. As the Memorial Day holiday weekend approached, my husband and I decided that, instead of taking the kids someplace costly and far away, we would have our own little staycation.
I can honestly say that this was, hands down, the funnest four days we have spent as a family. Everyone got to sleep in their own beds (i.e, got a good night’s sleep), we got to stick to their routine (i.e, no cranky kids) and my husband and I got to spend time together in the evenings (i.e., no being stuck in a hotel room after 8 p.m.) We had so much fun that I think we will seriously consider another staycation as an alternative to travel.
Interested in saving some money and sanity and having your own family staycation? Here are my tips -
1. Mark it in the calendar. Treat your staycation like you would a vacation that requires travel and mark it in your calendar. Set aside several days away from work and let family, coworkers and friends know that you will be on vacation. Our staycation was 4 days and that was a perfect amount of time for our family, but I imagine even a week would be awesome.
2. Get in the mindset. Relaxation and vacation is a state of mind; turn off your cell phones, unplug the computer and pour yourself a margarita. You’re on vacation!
3. Just say NO to chores. It’s not a vacation if you spend it cooking and cleaning. Eat out (unless you enjoy cooking – we hosted a barbecue one night), let the laundry pile up and leave the dishes in the sink. Worried that your house will be a mess when staycation is over? Arrange for a cleaning service to come on the last day of your vacation (think of all the money you saved on airfare and hotels!)
4. Make a plan. I recommend having one to two scheduled activities every day. My kids still take naps, so we planned one activity for the morning, came home for naps, and then enjoyed a planned activity each afternoon. Here was our Four Day Staycation Plan:
Day One: Disneyland (we blew off naps this day, knowing that they could sleep in the next day)
Day Two: Visit a local park to feed the ducks and fly a kite, home for naps, then our neighborhood water park in the afternoon
Day Three: Take a hike as a family and explore a new park, home for naps, then have friends over for a barbecue and board games
Day Four: Ride the carousel with Grandma and Grandpa, home for naps, set up the swimming pool in the backyard and have a bubble party. That evening, we made popcorn and watched “Bambi” as a family.
5. Take advantage of local attractions. If you have a theme park, museum or nearby attraction, plan a visit. Sometimes we forget about the fun that’s in our own backyard!
6. Get a sitter. Hire a sitter or get a grandparent to watch the kids one evening so you and your spouse can enjoy a nice meal, a movie or some grown-up time. A walk on the beach or a drink at your favorite watering hole will make it feel like vacation.
7. Take photos. Make sure you take lots of photos, just like you do on a “real” vacation. You are making wonderful memories with your family – don’t forget to document them!