Many families try to escape ice and snow and head to sunny destinations during Spring Break, but that often comes with a high price tag attached. When my kids were little we very seldom were able to go on a “real vacation” (ie. airline tickets and hotel rooms) but we still managed to have fun sticking close to home. Little did I know that we were actually paving the way for the soon-to-be-popular trend of “Staycations.”
“Staycations” have become quite the rage in the last several years as people hit hard by the recession realized they could stay local, save money, and still have fun. The word “staycation” (which is really just a fancy terms for spending your time-off at home) was even added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary back in 2009.
Even though the idea of vacationing at home may have been born of a monetary crunch….if you think about it, there are all kinds of benefits of the idea! Here are just a few:
There are no airfare, hotel, or rental car costs. A lot of the stress of travel comes from feeling that you are overspending. While you may still spend money on your staycation, you can get away with a smaller budget and unexpected expenses are less likely.
Spend More Time Relaxing
The point of a vacation is to relax, and a staycation cuts down on your travel time so you can spend the bulk of your holiday relaxing and enjoying yourself. There is no wasted travel day on the front and end of a vacation, so you get two more vacation days FOR FUN!
Less Stress and Strain
Admit it, travel can be exhausting & stressful. Dealing with traffic, getting through airport security, making connecting flights, & getting to the gate on time can all start your vacation out on a sour note and then you have to repeat the whole thing on the way back home.
On a staycation you avoid travel-related stress and can be more flexible. Plus, every night after you’ve explored your city or town, you can lay your head on your own comfy pillow.
Support the Local Economy
The money that you spend during your staycation will go to support the local economy. You can make an extra effort to try out local privately-owned restaurants, shops and attractions that you’ve never had the time for.
Avoid Travel Mishaps
Lost luggage, aggressive shopkeepers, stolen electronics, disease-carrying food, and inexplicable delays are only a few of the more well-known travel mishaps. A staycation gives you more hands-on control and offers less opportunity for things to go terribly wrong.
Skip Long Lines
If you enjoy waiting in seemingly endless lines, then maybe a trip to Disneyworld is in order. But a staycation gives you the opportunity to try out fun local activities during off-peak hours, when everyone else is at work. Skip the long lines and spend more time having fun.
Have I convinced you yet? If so, here are a few ideas for planning your own “staycation”:
Be a Tourist In Your Town!
We may travel far and wide, but most of us tend to overlook what’s available within a hundred miles of our home. Plan your staycation just as you would a far away vacation. Learn as much as you can about the area and what attractions are available. Don’t be afraid to do a bit of driving. Day trips can uncover a wealth of fun places. Make planning your staycation a family project. Start researching information NOW.
Splurge On Great Restaurants
Good vacations are made great with amazing meals that you can talk about for years to come. Make a reservation at a new restaurant that’s getting a lot of buzz (or a local classic that always gets rave reviews). If your little ones aren’t quite at the age where they can appreciate this treat, arrange for a babysitter and have a date night out. It might be more money than you would normally spend, but think of all the money you’re saving by not going out of town!
Get Some Culture
Plan a trip to your local art museum and get a history refresh. If you’re going with little ones, make sure you plan your trip for the right time of day (i.e., first thing in the morning or right after their nap). Be sure to get a souvenir of your “trip” on the way out.
Get a Hotel Room – in Town
Maybe you can’t afford to fly across the country and stay in a nice hotel, but who’s to say you can’t have a nice hotel weekend in your hometown? Pack up the family and check into a local hotel for the weekend. Many hotels now offer “staycation specials.” Get a hotel with a pool or spa. The kids will love it, and you can take some time for yourself to get a well-deserved massage or beauty treatment.
If you can’t afford a hotel room…treat your home like a hotel. One of the best parts of going on a vacation is laying back and letting somebody else take care of the small stuff! Typically, days spent sightseeing are rewarded back at the hotel with a turned-down bed and a room service menu. Why not bring those luxuries back home with you by hiring a housekeeper and ordering dinner in?
Set up tents in the backyard and have a backyard camping trip! Don’t let anyone back in the house — except to use the bathroom, of course. And leave your laptops, cell phones and handheld games behind. Remember, you’re camping. For dinner, have a cookout on the grill, and don’t forget the s’mores for dessert.
Video Game Olympics
Still too cold for camping where you live? Playing video games is great indoor fun for a chilly spring break at home.
Host a “video games Olympics” by setting up tournaments and giving out prizes or trophies to the top finishers in each category. Make it even more fun by setting up “fueling stations” with sports drinks, protein bars, etc!
A Day (or Night) at the Movies
Another great indoor activity is a movie marathon. Spend the day (or evening) in your jammies or comfy clothes, watching your favorite flicks. Use the opportunity to share movies with your children that you loved growing up. Order pizza, dim the lights, pop some popcorn and let the Family Film Festival begin.
Visit An Amusement Park
In the past, visiting amusement parks usually meant a week-long trip, airfare and hotel, and dealing with LONG lines. Not anymore. No matter where you live, there’s probably an amusement park near you. From thrill rides to waterslides, you don’t have to go far to find a day’s worth of fun. Lots of parks offer admission discounts for locals.
So maybe you’re not headed to the Mexican Riviera, but that doesn’t mean you can’t put on a swimsuit and lie poolside or beach side (depending on where you live). If the weather allows in your region, get out in the sun and relax while the kids splash! If your location doesn’t allow for warm water and sun, consider a local hotel or community center with an indoor pool. Stop by the dollar or discount store for pool toys to add excitement to the pool time.
Take Me Out To The Ballgame
Major league baseball ticket prices may be out of your price range, but chances are the minor league club near you has great prices, great entertainment and great talent on the field. Enjoy a hotdog and “America’s favorite pastime” as a family.
Invite Friends Over for a Sleepover
Since everyone else is on spring break too, invite a few friends over for a sleepover. A night of games, movies and snacks in PJs is fun for the whole family.
Take Your Tastebuds On A Trip
Who says you have to hop on a plane to get a taste of another area? Treat your kids to a culinary adventure by serving up a different ethnic food each night over spring break. Kids can help with the planning and preparation and the whole family can get in on the fun.
- View it like a real vacation. This means get the time off from work and let friends and family know you will be on vacation. Mark your calendar no differently than if you had non-refundable plane tickets purchased. If you don’t do this, you risk treating it too casually and it may never take place.
- This might be hard, but resist doing any household chores. Don’t clean the garage or paint the house. R e l a x. Remind yourself that, while you are at home, you still are on vacation.
- Remember you’re on vacation so limit your phone and computer use.
- It’s all in the details…for instance add umbrellas to your drinks or fill your house with fresh flowers
- Rent a car. We’re not talking a bare-bones sedan here. Get a sporty convertible for a day trip or a luxury SUV for a family trek to an amusement park.
- Vacations always leave us with memories to look back on. Your staycation shouldn’t be any different! Take lots of pictures for an album, create a staycation scrapbook, buy souvenirs, and send postcards to friends and family telling them how much fun you’re having!
These are just a few ideas to get you started. I’m sure you can think of lots more fun ideas your family would love to stay home to do.
Remember….. The excitement and adventure of a vacation can be just as wonderful close to home.
How do you and your family plan to spend spring break?