Here’s how to have a successful staycation. With a little thought and planning, these break times at home can be almost as enjoyable as time away!
By contributing writer, Amy
Our family has a somewhat troubled past when it comes to vacations. I don’t believe in “luck,” but if I did, I’d have to say vacations bring us bad luck.
There was the year we went camping at the beach in the HEAT of August. Then the time a hurricane hit our vacation rental the day after we arrived. And the trip when our van’s air conditioning broke more than nine hours from home in record high temperatures.
We’ve also experienced a lost wallet (containing all our vacation cash), a minor accident in a rental car, and two members of our family getting lashed by a jellyfish. Need I go on?
In spite of our past disasters, we always find a way to enjoy our vacation time. Unfortunately, vacations cost money, and we don’t often have much extra to spend on luxuries like travel and accommodations. Last year we went camping out of town, but even that can be tough to swing at times.
Instead, we regularly opt for a staycation. My husband has several weeks each year in vacation time, but he’s required to take them all separately. So, even in those years when we decide to risk life and limb for a real vacation, we still have several weeks to spend on an at home staycation.
With a little thought and planning, these break times at home can be almost as enjoyable as time away, especially when small children are involved. It can be a relief to have the baby’s usual crib at bedtime, the toddler’s quiet room at nap time, and a kitchen full of favorite snacks all the time. And if you have a babysitter to call on, the fun at home multiplies!
Tips for a Successful Staycation:
Plan for fun.
Search online or in your library’s travel books for local attractions. Check the Sunday newspaper for nearby events and brainstorm activities like visiting the zoo, playing at the pool, and going hiking. Write a list of things to do around town, so you can glance at it during the week when you need some fun.
Take short trips.
Don’t forget to look at things going on within a couple hours driving distance. Day trips can make the week feel almost like a real vacation. You also can go on a single night’s trip camping or to a hotel.
Take time to relax.
Be careful that you don’t try to squeeze in too much fun. Some of my favorite staycation times are when I finally get to sit down and read a book without having to think about cleaning the house or fixing dinner. The whole family can benefit from simply watching a movie or playing games outside in the evenings.
Keep the kids on schedule.
I always found that my kids did better when they were kept as close to their usual routine as possible. Try to give them a nap at home, if needed, and put them to bed at their normal time. Even though their schedules might be a bit out of whack, everyone will feel better if they aren’t completely exhausted and out-of-sorts.
We like to work together on household projects when my husband has a week off. We always try to get started early in the day so we can feel like we accomplished something but still have the rest of the day to relax or play. We work hard early so we can play hard later.
Go on dates.
Probably my favorite thing about staying home for a vacation is the fact that my husband and I can go out on a date (or several dates!). If possible, hire a babysitter and go out for an afternoon or evening. Even better, send the kids on an overnight trip to grandma’s or a friend’s house.
But even if you can’t get out of the house, you still can plan an after-bedtime date. Since you aren’t crammed into a hotel room, you have the benefit of being able to put the kids to bed and watch a movie, have a special dessert, or go to bed early yourselves (*ahem*).
Make a flexible menu plan.
When we’re going to be home a lot for an entire week, I must have a menu plan. It’s not optional. But rather than making a rigid plan, I usually create a list of simple meals and stock the kitchen so I’m ready for whatever we feel like eating each day. You also could work ahead of time to stock the freezer with meals for your staycation week.
Go out to eat.
One reason I keep our meal plan flexible is because we usually go out to eat once a day during a staycation. It’s nice to take a vacation from washing dishes! Pizza is an inexpensive way to eat out with a family (even a family with two teenagers like mine!). Or, go out for ice cream for “dinner” and feed everyone popcorn and fresh fruit for an evening snack.
Do some light housecleaning.
One tough thing about having everyone at home for the week is the fact that the house looks like everyone has been home for a week! By doing some light housework, your home will be more enjoyable and less chaotic. I follow my Morning To Do List throughout the week to keep things from getting out of control without spending much time on cleaning.
Wash one load of laundry each day.
Just like the house still gets messy during a staycation week, everyone still wears clothes, too. And all those clothes can pile up into a mountain of dirty laundry and empty closets and drawers. To keep everyone in clean socks and underwear, throw one load of laundry into the machine every evening so it doesn’t ruin your time off from the usual chores.
Expect a week of recovery.
Even though we don’t go very far on a staycation, it still takes time to recover from our days away from normal life. By the end of the week, the refrigerator is empty, clutter is accumulating in the corners, and the mail pile is starting to breed at an alarming rate. Just expect it to take a few days to get life back in order.