Staycations became the latest craze last year as the gas prices rose at the pump. This year, the trend continues as families are struggling to make ends meet and so many of us are counting our pennies.
I have never looked at these types of vacations as deprivation of tropical getaways, but instead looked at it as a way to enjoy all of the beauty that our own city has to offer. Truly, the best part about planning a staycation is there is very little packing, no layovers at the airport, and no long and drawn out days of travel. You can avoid all of these headaches and just have pure enjoyment from the comfort of your own home.
Planning a truly great staycation does take a lot of creativity and enthusiasm on your part though. We have enjoyed many wonderful staycations and I would love to share with you some of the ways our family vacations on a budget:
- Our family begins our summer planning with a big giant list that we write together on poster board. On this list we write down everything we want to do over our summer with check boxes next to each item. The children decorate this list and then we hang it in our kitchen where everyone can see it. We add lots of low-cost activities we can do together like playing at the park, running through the sprinklers, having an ice cream sundae night, planting a garden, and going to see a movie at the dollar theater. We are all excited to check these activities off of our list and it gives us something to look forward to all summer long.
- Start your vacation out right and let your kids make special requests for breakfast. Let them enjoy breakfast in bed instead of at the table for the ultimate in fun. For younger children, throw a tablecloth over the bed and let them climb in your bed with you. For older children, let them enjoy their breakfast in their bed at noon if they like! We plan to do this often this summer as a special treat together.
- Each year we request a visitor guide to our own state and neighboring states. These guides offer a wealth of information about new spots in town and often are accompanied with coupons for area restaurants and hotels. Use these booklets as a guide for planning fun getaway packages within your own town and explore the town just as a tourist would. The booklets can highlight hidden gems in your town that you may have never known about or pass every day.
- Libraries and parks offer a wide variety of fun and free crafts and activities for children. Be sure to visit their websites and try to take advantage of these great free programs that are offered in the summer months. Our family loves to take advantage of the free summer reading programs and the fun crafts that are offered at our library.
- We always try to check the websites for local museums and find out when their free days are offered. We mark our calendars and I have my spouse take vacation days on those days so we can take advantage of those free admissions. Don’t forget to pack a picnic lunch that you can enjoy on the museum grounds or in transit to your destination.
- You don’t have to go further than your backyard to enjoy a fun night of camping out. Set up your tent, roast marshmallows on your fire pit, and bring out jars to catch those lightning bugs. The best part about camping in your backyard? Those nice air-conditioned restrooms that are only a few steps away.
- I love to get my children excited about all of the great foods that the summer season has to offer. My children help me plant a small and simple garden that has herbs and tomatoes. Younger children can enjoy the fruits and veggies of the season by enjoying a day of berry picking or visiting the farmer’s market. Older children can help in meal preparation by helping you can those fruits and vegetables or help you cook a great dinner that can be eaten al fresco.
- Themed nights can take a whole new level during your staycation and we look forward to many of these nights in our family. Has your family always wanted to go to Italy? China? Mexico? Check out cookbooks or visit recipe sites to learn how to make dinner from these countries and share about the culture with your children. Wherever you have been dreaming of can be recreated for a fun night that your children will always remember. It can be as simple as making Chinese one night or as elaborate as recreating the beach in your own backyard.
- Spending time as a couple can still be a priority during your staycation. Enjoy a fun tropical drink together after the kids go to bed, catch that movie that you missed at the theater, or play a board game together. Relax and savor those moments together completely unplugged from distractions.
Just because you are staying home doesn’t mean you aren’t entitled to splurge a little. By saving on that airfare, gas for the car, and hotel stay, you can put some of that money towards a wise summer investment. Buy a lawn game that your whole family can enjoy, sign them up for a fun class through the parks department, or pay for a family pass to the zoo. These investments will pay off and give you even more opportunities to grow together as a family!