The key to a good staycation is to do everything differently, even though you’re in the normal place. Pretend you’re a tourist. What would you do in your town if you were a visitor?
Instead of driving your family carpool mobile, talk alternative means of transportation. Walk, ride the bus, take the train, or hop on your bicycles to get from place to place. You’ll see your city differently en route.
Sure. You can eat out during your staycation, or you can save money by simply eating differently. Eat all your meals outside and cook over an open flame a la hobo meals at the campfire.
Make your time together one long slumber party. Sleep in sleeping bags in the game room. Build a blanket fort as a makeshift indoor tent. Sleep in the backyard in an actual tent. Got a hammock? Perfect. Take turns sleeping in it. The goal is to mix it up and get some rest before the next day’s big adventures.
You will be disappointed in a staycation if you and your family just end up glued to a screen most of the time. Save the movies and video games for a rainy day activity, not vacation. Make a rule that nobody (parents included) will watch television, text, check social media, or play video games for the duration of the time. (Note: this leaves phone calls as an option for planning and in case of emergencies.)
Create a local bucket list of all the things you’d like to do, and choose the ones you’ll tackle this week. To get the entire family involved, let each person choose one attraction or activity for everyone to participate in. The guidelines are as follows:
- It must be age-appropriate for everyone (toddlers and grandparents included).
- It must be something that can be done in one day or less so everyone has the opportunity to do their activity.
- It must fit within the budget. (Pro tip: give older kids a learning experience by giving them the budget for an entire day and having them plan the whole day… entertainment, meals, transportation, etc. Don’t tell them it’s a learning experience; just tell them they’re in charge of the plan.)
- It must be something everyone is physically capable of doing together (i.e. no pregnant mom rock climbing).
You can also incorporate things like a scavenger hunt, board games, singing karaoke, or making a movie together.
Capturing the memories
Take plenty of pictures and videos, both candid and posed. Let the kids take some of the pictures. Interview at the end of each day and have them recap the events of the day on video or in a journal. Collect mementos from each activity or location to put into a memory box. It doesn’t have to be a souvenir you purchased; it could be a ticket stub, a special rock, or a printed napkin. The goal is to help each of you remember your time together.