The kids are out of school, the summer lull has started at work, and the temperatures are rising; time for a family vacation, right? Hold that thought! With gas prices being anywhere from $3 – $4 a gallon, airlines charging you to breathe, and the not yet fully rebounded economy, why not try a staycation?
I’ll admit, I was weary of this concept, myself, until recently; however, being extremely pregnant, any kind of travel for a family vacation is not in the cards for us this summer. When I thought of all the fun things we could do near home, I realized there was really no need to get on a plane or drive a long distance to have a great week off. There are some things you can do to get started that will ensure your staycation doesn’t end up with you hanging in the house and completing chores (after all, you want it to be as close to a “real” vacation as possible).
• Hire a maid: While I don’t mean you should have one come in daily to make beds, having a freshly cleaned house at the start of your staycation will help make sure you don’t kick off your play time with a mop.
• Turn OFF the work phone: While it’s easy to remain available for work since you’re home, vacation time is meant to be an “unplug and recharge” experience, and a staycation should be no different.
• Pre-make easy meals, plan ahead to eat out or have dinner delivered: Unless it’s a family activity you think would be fun to do together, doing the above takes the fuss out of meal times (not to mention the clean up!). You can also save yourself some time, and money, by buying some snack foods in advance to bring with you on your daily adventures.
• Send the pets on their own vacation: If you think having your pet at home will hinder your ability to pick up freely as though you were on vacation, send them packing on their own. Pet boarding facilities are everywhere, ranging from basic walks a few times a day, to farms where dogs run around through sprinklers and wading pools all day. Overnight packages usually start about $30-$40, and you can sometimes add on things like nature walks, specialized meals, pet “suites” or grooming packages.
Once you’ve got that settled, it’s time to start the fun stuff, beginning with…
• Beaches/Lakes: If you live in close driving distance to a beach or lake (or even a large pond), all it takes is a few chairs, umbrellas and buckets to keep everyone happy. If you are not a fan of heat or crowds, you can always pack a breakfast and hit the beach early in the morning, before they charge to stay for the day. That way you can get in some quality sand time before the temps rise and the tourists invade the shore.
• Rent a boat or jet ski: Just because you aren’t in the Caribbean doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some motorized water fun! Most lake or beach areas have anything from speed boats to pontoons, and kayaks to jet ski’s for rent per hour.
• Utilize local boardwalks or fairs: Summer is prime time for fairs, carnivals or fun on the boardwalk. It’s hard not to feel like you’re on vacation when you’re indulging in funnel cakes, fried Oreos, any kind of meat on a stick or some fresh squeezed lemonade. While they all have rides and games, some even have psychics, petting zoo’s or pony rides.
• Check out local venues: If you can’t make it to a major league game (or cringe at the thought of trying to keep a 3 year old entertained during a ball game), most MLB farm teams have family friendly ballparks with playgrounds, between inning contests and lots of interaction with their team mascots. If you’re not interested in attending games, local parks and beaches often have family events like free concerts, family movie nights, and firework displays through the summer.
• Backyard campout: You don’t have to rough it to have a campout. With a tent, some sleeping bags and flashlights, you can create a family overnight right behind your own home. Not to mention, if the weather makes a sudden decline, you can always just hop back indoors before anyone gets too soggy.
• Plan a family decathlon: With use of things your probably have laying around, you can easily set up a family Olympics with hula hoop contests, water balloon tosses, or any kind of races. You can even invite the neighbors to make things more fun, and turn it into an annual neighborhood event.
Indoors fun: Sometimes the weather just won’t cooperate; in case of rain or extreme heat, there are some terrific things you can do inside.
• Movie day!: This is fun whether you go out or stay in. If your kids can sit long enough, take them to the theatre to indulge in a double feature of their choice (age appropriate of course). If your little darlings are too young to sit for long periods, plan a movie day in your own house. Load up on kid friendly flicks, some fun snack food, and bring on the PJ’s and pillow forts.
• Museums: While smaller kids might be too young to appreciate art museums, many science museums have hands on exhibits meant for younger crowds. There are also museums meant for kids to touch (like the “Please Touch” museum in Philadelphia), which makes for a perfect day of indoor exploring.
• Family bake day: With one trip to the grocery store, you can pick up all the necessities to have a family bake-off! Have each child pick a recipe out of a hat to work on (or help with), and at the end of the day, you can have a tasty competition.
Adults only: If you’re lucky enough to find a sitter for a day or two on your staycation, there are some great ideas to enjoying a little vacation time sans kiddos.
• Spa Day: Nothing says vacation like a massage, facial or some all around pampering. Invite some girlfriends along for a group outing, or your spouse for some one on one relaxation.
• Host a cocktail party: Who doesn’t love the company of friends and a few tasty drinks on vacation? You can even have a themed party with a signature cocktail or two; or ask your friends to bring their best cocktail recipe and have a taste test!
• Romantic date night: Whether you opt for fondue for two at a nice restaurant or a bottle of wine with some goat cheese and crackers on the couch, a quality date with your spouse is a great way to spend a night of vacation. Send the kids to camp Grandma and Grandpa for their own night of fun, and only check the phone for emergencies.
With endless possibilities of how to spend your staycation, you really can’t go wrong. Just make sure stow your vacuum in its upright position and leave it that way for the week!