A staycation is defined by Dictionary.com as “a vacation spent at home or near home, doing enjoyable activities or visiting local attractions”. If you have never been a tourist in your own town I highly recommend taking a staycation, and this list will help you make sure that staycation is a successful stress-less vacation (because let’s face it you can never achieve stress-free) for your entire family.
Benefits Of A Staycation
Our family enjoyed a 6-day staycation one year. By staying near to home, we were able to eliminate the expense of accommodations and hiring a pet sitter for our dog. We were also able to cut down on the expense of travel and eating out. These things make Staycations attractive to thrifty families like ours.
I don’t think however that a small travel budget should be the only reason for taking a staycation. I think that exploring the area you live in can help you appreciate it more, especially when you find hidden gems you never knew it had, like waterfalls, and great locally owned restaurants.
It can also be more relaxing, especially for families of small children. Taking day trips allows you to end each night at home by regular bedtime hours so children can sleep in their own beds at routine times. Although some meals might be enjoyed out most will be served at home and will be foods your little ones are used to. Plus you have more chances of bumping into families with young children that might live in your neighborhood and become long-term friends.
10 Tips For Holding A Successful Staycation
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1. Decide How Much You Want To Spend
Decide exactly how much your family can afford or wants to spend on your staycation.
2. Find Out What There Is To Do In Your Area And Then Hold A Family Meeting
Visit your local visitor center together to get an idea of just what is in your area to see and do. If you live in the States check out the website onlyinyourstate.com for hidden gems to visit that you may never have heard of. If you live near a bigger center try tripadvisor.com enter “thing to do in…” or “places to eat in …” for ideas. Don’t forget to ask your Facebook friends for ideas, along with co-workers, and in real life friends.
After you have gathered up information on what there is to see in your area and knowing your budget restraints find out what family members want to do and where they want to go. If your kids are teenagers you could give them a budget and a maximum distance from home limit and then let them plan a day for the entire family to enjoy.
3. Come Up With A Day By Day Plan Of Events
Now that you have a list of what the family wants to do it is time to come up with a day by day plan of what you are going to do. Don’t plan your days down to the minute, but do have a plan. For instance, during our last staycation our family really wanted time to just chill out at home each day, so we planned just one out of the house activity daily. That way most days the kids could sleep in and we were home early enough for them to watch a bit of TV before bed.
4. Plan Simple Meals
After your events are planned it is time to plan your meals. Keep these meals simple as the last thing the cook in the family wants to do during staycation is spend hours slaving in the kitchen while everyone else is chilling out.
Plan to buy what you normally might make from scratch. Stick to simple meals and quick meals that don’t create a huge pile of dirty dishes to clean once you are done eating. Consider paper plates to make clean up easier for the week.
Buy cereal, fruit, and yogurt cups for serve yourself breakfasts. Purchase sandwich makings for lunches on the go or at home.
During our staycation we ate out one meal per day which took a lot of the meal preparation pressure off, however, if eating out did not fit our budget I would have frozen more meals ahead to allow for more time off.
If you are planning on eating out check out this list of 50+ Restaurants apps that can save you money on take-out food. Also, check out this post for ways thrifty people eat out for less.
5. Share The Work Load
Since you are home housework is going to continue as normal. I let some of it slide for a week but other chores that could not wait a week I delegated so that the work load was shared evenly. Make up your list of tasks that need to be done daily a few days before your staycation and delegate them out in a way that makes the best sense for the ages and stages of your family.
Just like you might want to consider using paper plates for meals during your staycation think of other ways to make chores easier for the week. Perhaps you might wash and dry clothes but just leave them in a laundry basket for people to grab as needed for the week. Or instead of mixing up your own homemade cleaners and cleaning with rags you can splurge on ready-made cleaning wipes and leave them out on the bathroom and kitchen counter for quick clean ups.
6. Relax The Rules And Include A Few More Treats
Remember this is a vacation! Chances are if you had gone to a hotel room for the week the kids would have had fewer rules than they did at home. They also probably would have eaten a bit more junk food and enjoyed a few more activities.
Consider letting the children stay up a little later and sleep in a bit more in the mornings. Stock a few of their favorite treats in the house, and yours too. Have a PJ day where changing out of their pajamas is optional.
If your children are really little take some time to talk to your spouse about what would be a treat for each of you. Perhaps you want an extended time in a hot bubble bath, or a quiet hour curled up in bed with a good book. Perhaps your partner wants to watch an entire episode or two of their favorite “non-child” friend show, and you can take the kids out for a bit to make it happen.
When we had our staycation we gave the children an extra hour of screen time a day. They also got to stay up late and sleep in. I also bought one favorite junk food item for each person in the house –including me and my husband. My husband spent one day doing nothing but reading and I got several long runs in that week, and a kid-free coffee date with a friend.
7. Save Money Where You Can
We enjoyed a meal of hotdogs and pop from Sam’s Club for less than $10 one night. I bought a round of snacks from a grocery store instead of pulling through the drive thru one afternoon.
8. Splurge On The Important Things
Yes do save money where you can but don’t let having to pay full price stop you from visiting a place that is a “really really want to” to a child.
Instead of telling the child no we were not going at full price we saved in other areas using tips shared in the point above so we could splurge on Skyzone at full price.
9. Visit The Unique
The real fun of a staycation is checking out the hidden gems in your area like the nearby ice-cream parlor my hubby and I took a drive out to and enjoyed a one of a kind banana split at.
10. Make Use Of The Driving Time
Unless you live in a big city where all the places you want to visit are just minutes from your door chances are you are going to have travel time each day.
Use this time to start conversations like “What was your favorite thing we did today?”, or listen to a new CD and critique the album (my music loving middle child loves this).
You could also get books on tape from your local library to listen to during your commutes.
Has your family taken a staycation? Any tips to share?