Have you ever looked at your hometown as a tourist? Have you still not seen all the great spots in your region despite living there for years?
Many people advocate staycations because they are frugal. And they are frugal! You don't have to spend money on lodging, it is easier to brown bag it, and you save quite a bit on gas. But that is not why I take staycations; I take them because I have been blessed to live in some really awesome places.
My husband receives 5 weeks of vacation each year. We use one week to take a summer staycation and another week in the winter to enjoy our nearby mountains and lakes while we vacation in Northern Nevada.
How to Plan a Staycation:
Set a beginning and ending date for your staycation. If you don't define the times and commit to the vacation aspect, it can just end up feeling like a long lazy weekend rather than a vacation.
Evaluate how much you have available in your budget for your vacation.
Get a travel guide for your area from AAA or the library. Look at your city's tourism website; your city may even send you a free brochure. Ask your friends for advice on local attractions.
Make a list of all the museums, zoos, aquariums, sporting events, concerts, national parks, water parks, lakes, hiking trails, and festivals in your area.
Check some of your family's favorite attractions and see if they have a special behind the scenes tour that you haven't been on before.
Once you have gathered the information have a family meeting. Discuss how far you are willing to drive for a day trip and ask everyone to share which activities they would like to do. Try to focus on activities that everyone will enjoy, but also try to carve room in your schedule for each person's first choice.
Create a schedule for your staycation, but allow wiggle room for late nights and lazy mornings.
Make sure everybody understands this is a family vacation and interruptions will not be allowed – not your work, not their friends. Establish rules for how and when your kids can interact with their friends.
Getting the Most Out of a Staycation:
Preparing for a staycation is easier since you don't have to pack everything up. I still suggest planning what clothing you will need and having it washed in advance. Plan the food that you will need and purchase it in advance. I also like to clean the house up before the staycation begins and then take the week off from all, but the most basic chores. I pack a day bag in advance with sunscreen, wet wipes, snacks, and water bottles. Then I refresh it each evening.
When you stay at a hotel, you are all forced to spend time together at the end of the day. Unfortunately, it is easy to return to your house and go in different directions, so make an effort to spend quality time together while relaxing at the end of the day.
Engage! Turn off the phones and computers. Make a rule that the only time electronic games can be played is if they are being played with another family member. Same thing for ipods; pull the buds out and plug the iPod into a speaker. Dance and sing together.
Explore new ways to get to your destination. Try riding bikes, or taking the bus, a tram, or a train. When we lived in Maryland, my kids loved taking the Metro around town. It was half the fun of a sightseeing in DC.
Plan some easy, but fun meals for the nights when you eat at home like “make your own pizza night” or make “hobo meals” in a campfire (or on the grill).
Turn the t.v. off! Have a game night, work on a puzzle together, and/or read a book aloud in the evenings.
Consider having a camp out in the back yard or in the living room.
Don't forget to take pictures like you are on vacation! (I will admit that I still struggle with this. So this is a “do as I say not as I do” moment. Just know that you will regret it if you don't take pictures.)
Extending the Benefits of Your Staycation:
Were there a couple attractions you couldn't fit into your staycation? Get out the calender now and find dates to pencil them in! Maybe you could even consider picking one weekend a month that you set aside for a family day trip.
Were there any activities your family really enjoyed doing together? Why don't you try to work them in on a weekly or biweekly basis? You could regularly schedule a “make your own pizza” dinner and follow it up with a game night.
Create an album together from the pictures of your staycation. Have everyone contribute their comments and memories, even if you have to write them for very young children.
Since you save money on gas, food, and accommodations, you probably have a little extra room in your vacation budget. Consider using some of your extra funds towards an annual membership at the museums, zoo, and national parks that you visit. Often times a family membership doesn't cost that much more than the entrance fee for one visit. This allows you to continue to enjoy the attraction through out the year.
To see some of the local attractions we enjoy, visit Vacationing with your Family in Northern Nevada.
Have you ever taken a staycation?