- those of you who want to save some money and eliminate costs like flights and hotel stays
- people who can’t travel very far due to work or health issues
- families with little ones who would like to save bigger vacations for when the kids are a bit older
Staycations can be pretty amazing. Here’s how we had a great time, and how we could have had an even better time.
1. Research Your Town of Choice
Ry and I have always had a little favorite tourist town that was close to home. In North Carolina, we loved to visit Blowing Rock and Asheville. In Colorado, we liked Golden, and Evergreen. There are plenty of spots in Iowa, but for our day trips, we visited Pella and Des Moines.
Even if your town of choice is your hometown, I’d recommend visiting your city’s chamber of commerce website. Nearly every town has one (including tiny spots barely worthy to be called a village). These sites are designed for people who want to relocate or visit, so there are lots of ideas and information on what there is to do.
Don’t be afraid to be a tourist!
2. Make Your Home More Like a Hotel
Before your staycation starts, take some extra time cleaning, running all the loads of laundry you can think of, vacuuming, mopping, dusting, and gathering your gear (see packing below!).
The day before your time off starts is when the real fun comes in. Get fresh flowers for your entryway and dining table, buy little mints for placing on pillows at night, bottles of water for bedside tables, and cute bath soaps for each “guest.” It shouldn’t cost too much to make your home feel a bit more like a hotel.
3. Get Discounts
I admit, I didn’t even think to do this before our staycation. We were so casual about it all and our group wasn’t really eager to map out every day in advance.
You should also visit the website of the attraction you want to visit in case there are special events, a discount to buy tickets online, information on hours and more.
4. Go on Picnics
This isn’t just a money-saving tip. It’s a great way to add some fun and relax while you eat if you aren’t at home.
Restaurants can come with worries about your child dropping toys or food, grabbing cutlery, being loud, painting with your ice water, throwing plates on the floor and causing you to jump up and knock your own chair to the ground behind you, etc. (These are purely hypothetical examples.)
If the weather’s good, pack up some food ahead of time and throw a blanket in your car, and you’re set.
5. What to Pack for Babies, Toddlers, or Preschoolers
Aside from the usual diaper bag essentials, here are a few things that might be easy to forget. It’s not like I speak from experience.
- Favorite snacks, fruit/veggie purees (good veggies are hard to find when eating out), filled sippy cups in a freezer bag, plastic bowl/utensils
- Cuddly toy for sleeping in the stroller
- Sunscreen, kid-friendly bug repellent, hats, and band-aids
- Toys that can hook onto the stroller
- Extra umbrella stroller for bigger kiddos who are still too little to do all that walking
- Busy bag for restaurants
- Swim gear if needed, including swim diapers
6. Unpack Every Night
The great thing about a staycation from home is that you don’t have to pack. The negative thing about a staycation is that, well, you still have to pack. Bring a lot for your day trips, but then unload your car and clean up your diaper bag at the end of every day.
It’s never fun to discover a dirty bib (or worse) waiting for you in your bag. Replenish your supplies right away or make a note of what you’ll need for tomorrow.
7. Sleep at Home
Take advantage of the biggest benefit of staycations and sleep in the comfort of your own home! Because we have little ones, it was awesome to get them to their beds for naps and nighttime. We found that for our one-year-old, all the excitement meant she slept much better in her crib than she could while we were out in the stroller.
If you can let the kids have a day or afternoon off, they will be ready for more excitement the next day. Oh, and this is completely true for adults as well!
8. Be Flexible
With little ones, flexibility is key…and the same is true for vacations. Be flexible enough to go to a new place at the drop of a hat, or change your schedule on a whim. I do love sticking to a routine, especially for my kids’ sake, but we had some great times doing things at the spur of the moment.
I discovered my baby doesn’t mind a little spontaneity…or drinking half-and-half from an open cup because I forgot her sippy cup full of whole milk at home.
9. Let Chores Slide
Okay, so you might not be able to let your housework go completely by the wayside, but here’s your permission slip to put off laundry, mowing, or anything else that’s okay to wait while you have a few days of vacation. You’re welcome.
10. Share Pictures
Make a plan to upload pictures to the same spot before the fun is over. Whether it’s a bigger group or the adults include just you and your spouse, be prepared to share your photos! My favorite option is to create a shared album on Google Photos. Another great option for privately sharing family pics is Cluster.
I hope these tips are helpful for planning your staycation and that you have a fantastic time! Go be a tourist in your own town, see the sights, eat watermelon, visit museums and fairs and zoos, and enjoy yourself and your family as much as possible.