Family vacations can get expensive, especially for those with larger families. In fact, once you add up all of the costs associated with paying for accommodations, dining out, entertainment, travel/transportation costs and everything else that is required for a family vacation, it can cost thousands of dollars. Where you intend to go and how far you have to travel for your family vacation will also determine how many thousands of dollars your vacation could cost you. But, you shouldn’t let anything get in the way of you having fun with the kids during the summer. Make plans to take your vacation right in your backyard if you’re looking to save some money. Hometowns can offer many things for families to do on a staycation. So this year, create an itinerary and set some time aside for an exciting family staycation. Planning a staycation is more then just spending time at home for a week or so. It actually is a complete vacation, filled with fun, excitement and many adventures. The only difference is you are not having to travel long distances and pay for expensive hotels. Here are some tips and ideas to help plan your next family staycation.
Just as you would with a traditional vacation, set some ground rules to ensure everyone in the family is on the same page. The last thing you want is for dad to take work-related phone calls or for mom to spend a majority of the day sending and replying to emails for her job. Here are some ideas to help you and your family set your staycation rules:
- No phones – including the use of smart phones
- No checking emails – both personal and business
- No computer or video games – unless playing together as a family
- No television – unless watching a movie as a family
- No working from home
- No separating from each other – plan to do activities together
- No cleaning, cooking or laundry
The best way to come up with ground rules that everyone will agree on is to sit down as a family to determine what your staycation ground rules will be. The biggest thing to determine is if the kids will be allowed to go out and play with their friends. Since you will be staying at home, consider setting specific times when the kids will be allowed to play with their friends and include it within the staycation itinerary.
Set a Budget
The whole purpose of planning a staycation is to help save money so that is why it is important to set a budget and stick to it. To make it simpler, determine how much money you have available to spend for the entire time and set daily spending limits. By putting each days budget allowance in an envelope and marking it with the date it is intended for, it will help ensure you stay within your budgets spending allowance.
Prepare for the Staycation
Just like with a traditional vacation, you will want to relax during your staycation. The last thing you want to have to worry about is cleaning the house or going grocery shopping. It may be difficult to spend time at home relaxing though, especially when you know there are plenty of things you could be getting done. So you’ll want to take time to thoroughly clean your home before your staycation begins. This is the perfect time to spring clean, ensuring every nook and cranny is cleaned. The cleaner the house is, the less you have to worry about it during your relaxation time. Also, go shopping for all snack foods and easy-to-make meals, such as sandwiches, chips and dips. This will make your home feel like a hotel. And, by changing out towels in the bathroom so they are fresh and put chocolates on the bed, it will feel more like a vacation. Other ideas? Print up mini-itineraries for the following day and place in the kids bedrooms each night with a bedtime snack. Before the staycation, go around to some of your area restaurants and gather some menus as well. Decide which nights you will eat out and which nights you will order take-out or delivery. To help save money and time having to cook while on your stay vacation, consider preparing all of your meals beforehand. Some great staycation recipes include prepared crockpot freezer meals which are prepared by putting everything you will need, including spices, sauces, vegetables and meats, in a zip-locking bag. The bag is then placed in the freezer until you are ready to cook it. To cook these meals, all you have to do is dump all of the ingredients from the bag into the crockpot and your dinner will cook while you are enjoying time as a family.
Plan For Excitement
To make it an exciting time, make a lot of plans during your staycation, including a variety of activities that are both fun and exciting for the entire family. Beforehand, sit the kids down and ask what they would like to do during their vacation-at-home time and make a list of what everyone wants to do. Go through the list together and schedule activities from that list and try to accommodate everyones vacation wishes at least once during the time and be fair to everyones wishes.
What you do during your staycation will greatly depend upon where you live and the different types of attractions that are available within a decent driving distance from your home. Some activities can include visiting local museums, spending the day at the pool or beach, taking a local city tour, renting a boat for a day out on the lake, fishing or even planning a picnic in the park. Add some outdoor fun during your vacation by planning to camp out in your backyard or try geocaching as a family. Other fun family activities include:
- Taking virtual tours of other cities or attractions
- Visit a local national park or amusement park
- Go out to dinner and then go see a movie
- Visit the local library
- Explore a local zoo or aquarium
- Visit a nearby tourist spot
- Go play a few paintball or laser tag games
- Go mini golfing or bowling
- Attend a local event or festival
- Attend a sporting event, such as a major or minor league baseball game
- Spend all day playing board games
- Plan a spa day within the house
- Plan a water day in the backyard with small pools, water balloons and lots of sprinklers
- Plant a garden together
- Visit a farmers’ market
- Go kayaking
For help coming up with things to do and nearby places to visit, check with your local Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau for a list of information they give newcomers and visitors. Or, you can stop by a local hotel and pick up copies of all of the brochures they have for local attractions which will give you a great amount of ideas to choose from. Additionally, an adventurous method to pick what you are doing every day is to place several different activity ideas on small pieces of paper and put them in a jar. Then each morning, you will pull out an activity and that is what you will be doing for the day. This idea works best with older kids who will not get upset when plans change.
Choose A Staycation Theme
Creating a theme for your staycation will help you come up with unique things to do during your time together as a family. To do this, create a week-long theme or plan a different theme for each day. Some themes can include Disney, foreign countries, a favorite movie or book, Hawaiian/tropical or animal. Make all of your staycation plans around the theme or themes selected. For example, a Disney staycation may include watching several Disney movies, making Disney arts and crafts or finding something nearby that is Disney-related. Another great theme to pick is that of a foreign country. For example, select China as your theme. Do some research and make plans around everything China, including making native crafts, watching movies about China, learning about the culture and cooking Chinese food. A staycation should be a great time to spend with your family so make a commitment to focus on your staycation and enjoy the time relaxing with the family. As tough as it may be, you will need to take this time off from worrying about work and day-to-day routines. Just because you are not traveling for your vacation does not mean you cannot enjoy the time with your kids and spouse. There are plenty of opportunities to create magical memories that will last a lifetime during your staycation.
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