Staycations are super popular right now (save money! save time! no travel stress!) and we decided to spend our summer holidays close to home this year. Here are some tips for staycationing with your family!
- Ask each family member in advance for two or three of their top activities to ensure everyone gets to do at least a couple of things on their wishlist during the staycation
- Remember everyone doesn’t need to do everything (one parent and child can hit the trail while the other parent takes the remaining kids to the museum – you can meet up again for ice cream!)
- Part of the joy of vacation is downtime, so don’t feel like you need to schedule every hour. And remember, it’s good for kids to get bored and figure out how to entertain themselves sometimes!
- Be willing to open the purse strings occasionally. What you may be saving on transportation and accommodations will more than offset a little splurge on event tickets or a meal out.
- If on a tight budget, keep an eye out for free events, kids eat free nights, free admission days at certain attractions, discount days at the movies (some theatres show previously run movies in the mornings for as low as a toonie), etc.
- This is also a great time to use up gift cards and rewards points – you may be surprised by what you’ve accumulated!
- Have a picnic – at home or somewhere else. Food from home feels much more exciting when eaten at the park or beach!
- Camp in your own backyard (we’ve done this a few times)
- Use up all the arts and crafts kits your kids have been given over the years – or check out local stores that offer free kids’ workshops (Michaels and Home Depot come to mind)
- Take advantage of friends with pools or cottages (which reminds me, someday I am going to a write a post all about “how to be a good pool guest”!) Most people like to see their pools being used, and your kids help entertain theirs!
- Check out the library for reading clubs and other special activities
- Outdoor movies can be fun (or the local drive-in; look for discount nights)
- Get kids journals to document their staycation activities, or show them how to take photos and videos (photo/video editing is a great use of screen time: production over consumption)
- Many church groups and organizations host strawberry suppers and beef bbqs, often with a reasonable “family price” option
- Good old classic: board and card games. Learn some new ones, and teach kids what you used to play when you were young!
- Have fun purging unneeded items (clothing, toys, books, household items, etc.) and plan a garage sale, sell online or donate. Not a fun idea for everyone, but I love to do this!
- Find a local volunteer opportunity or way to get involved, whether for just an hour, a day, or part of a longer-term commitment (soup kitchen, food bank, charity fundraising event, animal shelter, etc.)
- Check out farmers’ markets and local food stands
- Encouraging physical activity is always beneficial (for parents and kids); trying new things (shooting hoops, tennis, rollerblading, Pilates class) may just trigger a new passion
I asked for staycation tips from followers, and they had some great advice:
Rejeanne on Instagram says “Ooh, we are staycationers! TripAdvisor recommendations are the best, or asking locals!”
Kelly Anne on Instagram suggests, “Treat yourself to breakfast or lunch.” (Agreed – it’s no kind of vacation for me if I have to make every meal, and breakfast especially can be very reasonably priced…and delicious!)
Since staycations may still involve some road trips, Charlotte on Instagram says, “Take your favourite snacks with you – it saves you from many pit stops you may not have planned for!”
And finally, some wise words from Michelle on Facebook:
My husband and I used to staycation in Toronto every year before we had kids. We’d rent a fancy hotel room for 2-3 nights and just walk around the city, visiting the galleries and museums and restaurants we never had time (or a budget) to enjoy otherwise. I’d spend time in the spa, he’d read … it was heaven! Now that we have kids, we bring the boys. We still rent a hotel room (because staying at home just reminds us of all the things that need to be done around the house and doesn’t really give us that same feeling of being away), but now we choose a hotel with a great pool, and we enjoy lazy days together as a family, swimming and exploring, pretending we’re tourists. There’s so much we take for granted where we live (now in Whitby), so going on a staycation gives us the push we need to try mini golfing, or visit the zoo, or try the dozens of restaurants we’ve been meaning to but have never had a reason to visit. So in the end, my biggest tip would be to leave your house if you can. At home it’s too easy to fall into your regular patterns, and it’s not nearly as exciting! Plus, hotel rooms are generally pretty boring so they force you find things to do!
You can see what we’ve been up to so far this summer by searching #winnstaycation, but here are a few highlights!