Your Best Family Secret to More Adventures for Less Money
Today, let’s talk about Why Staycations are Better for Families.
Who doesn’t love a vacation? We all look forward to the time when we can get away from it all for a little fun and relaxation. For some people, due to the cost and time commitment, vacations are out of the question.
What if I told you that there was a way that you could get away more frequently, for less money?
As you may be aware, staycations are ‘vacations’ where, instead of traveling to another state, you vacation in the area where you live. For the purposes of this article, let’s broaden our definition to include day trips and longer trips, while remaining in your state.
They are a good option for single parents, not accustomed to traveling with kids, large families and what used to be “traditional” families.
Staycations are not a new concept, but since the onset of travel restrictions, they are gaining favor. People harbor a fear of germ exposure from others due to the pandemic. As such, air travel has lost its luster and travel by car is more appealing.
How do you feel about saving some money?
Consider all of the costs associated with travel. To start, there are plane tickets, one for each family member. The price of a rental car for the duration of the trip. Food and accommodations. Not to mention the fees associated with your entertainment while you’re away!
No wonder why, especially in the U.S., families only take one vacation per year.
You may be surprised to learn that, in the United States, the average family of four can spend more than $6,000 for one week’s vacation.
Imagine the costs for two weeks!
If finances in general are a struggle, a staycation is an optimal solution. This assumes that the vacation is paid-time-off, of course. But that’s not always the case.
By simply opting for a staycation over a traditional vacation, you have the opportunity to save on most of the major expenditures you might otherwise expect to pay. Food can be made at home, with an inexpensive treat on the road.
Day trips eliminate the need for overnight accommodations. Use of your personal vehicle negates the need for plane tickets or a rental. But, should a place to stay be needed, the cost of a hotel or Airbnb for a few nights is miniscule compared to what you would be paying abroad.
Explore Where You Live
It’s funny, people often say they love where they live, but the reality is that most of us like where we live because of employment, schools, neighborhood, proximity to friends/ family and climate.
But how often have you actually explored where you live? Sure you might have a park that you like to go to or a city that you like to play in but what about the rest of your area?
How often do you play tourists in your own area? You might do the major things when you have friends or family come to town. Even then, you hit the touristy locations and possibly for the first time. I live in a great place and have only seen some of the things that my state has to offer. So my goal is to focus on being here.
I challenge you to try something new! Bo beyond your typical stops and see what’s out there. There are many hidden gems in towns you’ve driven right past or may not have heard of.
What a great opportunity to really immerse yourself in your city/ state and the surrounding areas. Find some new favorites. Get into the nooks and crannies and see what treasures are there. You may discover new hiking trails, secluded picnic/ camping spots or perhaps an interesting bit of history you never knew.
Take a chance and just hit the road. Or, if planning is better for your family, you could always take a tour! Nobody is going to stop you from having the same experiences as the tourists that come to visit.
Or, how about this? Grab a travel guide for your area. I bet you’ve never even looked at one of those. There could be surprises around every corner just waiting to be discovered and experienced by your family!
Travel More Frequently
Guess what? When taking a staycation, your vacation can start now! Like, right now! By taking your vacation closer to home, you can go on adventures more frequently.
Often, when flights are involved, the trip is planned well in advance and likely limited to once a year (if you’re lucky). Outside of that, the time and expense required for travel is prohibitive to do on a regular basis.
But, how do staycations allow for more frequent travel? Easy! By expanding your concept of a getaway to include day trips and weekends. There’s no reason to wait until you’ve amassed 2 weeks of vacation time to take a break. You can go as often as you want to.
Imagine waking up early, packing the car and heading off for the day! For the price of gas, (which is outrageous where I live but cheaper than a flight), you can do so much.
Or, plan for a little longer stay and make use of the entire weekend. There are 52 weekends/ 104 weekend days each year! Barring other commitments, that offers so many chances for exploration and relaxation.
Also, keep in mind that without the need to travel to/ from the airport, not to mention the flight itself, you don’t lose a day or more of travel. I’m not even accounting for transfers and delays. Additionally, no need to make any time zone adjustments or adding a recovery day upon returning home.
Economic Benefits of a Staycation
Another excellent bonus for keeping your travels closer to home is the opportunity to support local businesses. It’s so easy to latch onto the big guys when traveling abroad as they are easily accessible and their marketing budgets are attractive.
But what about the local mom & pop shops? The economic challenges in the past couple of years hit small businesses hard; Far too many have had to close their doors.
By spending your money locally, you can help keep those businesses open and keep your local economy alive. You have the chance to help people you know in a tangible way that could make a real difference in their lives.
Local merchants often invest locally as well. Their products and ingredients use materials found locally. So, supporting one business, trickles down to the support of others. The more viable an area remains, the more investment made by everyone connected to that area. Keeping jobs alive is keeping hope alive.
What if you could just jump in the car and be somewhere great in the matter of a few minutes to a few hours? Where would you go?
My friends and I used to do it all the time when we were young and free. We would drive a couple of hours to spend the day at the beach or the weekend at the ocean. Very little planning went into these trips aside from packing a bag and hitting the road.
True, that was before having kids, but there’s no reason not to do the same now. If you own a car, you can just pick-up and go! Otherwise, you can rent the transportation you need through a rental company, or a service like Zipcar. And, why limit yourself to a car or SUV. Perhaps an RV (recreational vehicle) is what your adventure needs.
You don’t even need a plan. Not really. You can just fill up the tank and drive. There’s a lot to see when you’re on the road. Even if you have a destination in mind, what’s stopping you from taking a detour to venture somewhere else? Nothing!
If you change your mind and want to go somewhere else, you can do that. If the kids are fussy and home is best, that’s fine too. When you’re not bound by restrictive travel regulations, you can do whatever works best for your family. When younger children are involved, it’s important to be flexible.
Usually, when you go on vacation out of the state or country, it’s common practice to hit all of the highlights, the main tourist trappings. If you had more time and opportunities to design your outings, imagine how they could be customized?
What about visiting all of the State Parks in your state? There are 124 in mine. There’s no way we could do that in a weekend, or even a year, but that’s something that we could work toward over time.
You could do the same for all of the museums. This could include historical, local, curiosity, transportation, science… you get the idea. Hang a state map on the wall and put pins in all the places you visit. This is something fun that people do for other trips, so why not do it for your staycations?
Additional Themes to Consider:
- State/ National Parks
- Beaches/ Lakes (Picnic, Ride Horses, Water Sports, Relax)
- Hiking Trails
- Local Oddities/ Curiosities (Biggest Frying Pan, Largest Dresser..)
- Amusement Parks/ Carnivals
- Hidden Camping Spots
- Fairs/ Festivals (music, local celebrations, etc.)
- Zoo (Petting zoo)
- Farm/ Ranch (There are working ranches where you can stay/ work in some places)
- Snow sports (Ski, snowboard, sledding, etc.)
- Local sports teams (minor league, collegiate, etc.)
- Fireworks (follow them throughout the state)
- Food Tours (Is your area known for a particular food? Visit the factory/ shop)
Activities for the Kids
When you have young kids, even the most spontaneous of getaways needs just a little planning. Involve the kids in planning the trip. Let them help decide where to go and what to do. Once they know where they’re going, they’ll need something to do.
Keeping kids entertained for car rides and sight seeing can be difficult. However, by planning a few, vacation related activities, the little ones could be more cooperative. Don’t forget to include the stuff every adventurer needs, like binoculars, a compass and magnifying glass!
- Keep a travel journal (kids): All you need is a blank notebook, pencil/ pen, glue stick
- Make a local passport: You add stamps for the cities/ towns/ attractions you visit
- Collect postcards: They can frame them or add to their journal or photo album
- Collect keepsakes from each trip: I have a friend who collects a small jar of beach sand for every trip they take
- Leave painted rocks along your route: Have to plan ahead and make the rocks at home (and remember to bring them)
- Create a treasure hunt: Include items/ places for the kids to be on the lookout for (add some for the ride, others for the destination)
By giving them something to look forward to and allowing them to be a part of the process will help them feel like an important part of the family.
The Stay Home Staycation
When all else fails, there’s nothing wrong with creating a fun atmosphere at home. Decorations, music, themed food…it just takes is a little staging.
Does it feel like a beach day? Turn your backyard into a beach oasis. All you need is a blow-up swimming pool, any size can help create the illusion. Put on some tropical music, get some novelty cups from your favorite party store for some festive drinks. Lawn chairs, beach towels, the kids sandbox – you get the idea.
Looking for more inspiration, transform the backyard into a campground. Pitch a tent, roast marshmallows, the works. It might not be exactly the same, but there are no crowds and it can still be a lot of fun.
Consider this option! Rather than staying at your house, you can go home adjacent and enjoy a day or even a weekend at the hotel down the street!
This might sound odd, but just think of the perks. You don’t have to cook or clean. You may be closer to the city center for easier access to entertainment. Picture lounging by the pool sipping cocktails/ mocktails to your hearts content. You might feel like you’re in another place, even though your house is minutes away.
Remember, to kids, anything new and different is fun and special.
Now more than ever, people are in need of a little fun. After living with so much negativity and uncertainty, having the opportunity to make positive memories with our loved ones is just what’s needed. It’s a no brainer.
Let’s face it, traveling with family is a big undertaking. The bigger the family, the more complex the logistics.
By enjoying a staycation with your family, you save time and money and have the flexibility that traveling by plane does not allow. Add to that, no need to learn a new language or change out your currency. Depending on how long you’re away, you might not even have to pack!! Can you imagine?!
To enhance the experience, don’t forget car snacks, road games and of course, your road trip playlists! And don’t forget, depending on your destination, your pet can travel with you, that way the whole family can enjoy the fun!
For people that want to take a more traditional vacation, the costs don’t have to be prohibitive. Advanced planning and creative thinking can help bring these costs down.
For example, staying with family and friends near your destination may eliminate the price of accommodations. And, you may go to a place where walking, biking or public transportation is preferable over driving. It might take a little work, but it can be done.
But, in the meantime, a staycation is a more immediate solution to your desire for a little fun now. Yes! Right now!
As with everything these days: Follow the guidance provided by the CDC and your local government. Take all precautions to keep your family safe.
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When was the last time you took a road trip? Where did you go? Did you take the family along? I want to know everything! Tell me in the comments below.