Can't afford a vacation? Try a staycation instead!

Filed under: Work Life, Activities: Babies

When I was a struggling college student, I could put two dollars into my gas tank and drive my car for a week. Two dollars today wouldn't get us much farther than the nearest expressway. Families everywhere are grounding their summer travel plans either in protest of the quickly inflating gas prices or because they just can't afford to go anywhere.

Postponing your summer travel plans doesn't have to be a major disappointment. Just think of the silver lining -- no kids arguing in the backseat, no fighting your spouse for control over the air conditioning, no waking up in a tent in the middle of the forest realizing how much you miss your own bed. Instead of a vacation, plan a family staycation instead.


Staycations are great for families of any age, but parents of very young children will appreciate the fact that babies and toddlers get to stay on routine and sleep in their own beds. There are ample opportunities for family fun, with the relaxation factor of not being out of your element. Here are some strategies to make your staycation a memorable one:
  • Sit down and decide how many days will be "staycation" days, and plan events as a family. That way, your vacation won't just feel like a bunch of days off.
  • Ban all unnecessary chores for the duration of the staycation.
  • Take advantage of local attractions like parks, zoos, water parks, pools, museums, and beaches.
  • Bring your camera along and take pictures, just like you would if you'd gone out of town.
  • Pitch a tent in the backyard for a family camp out. Light a campfire, if it's legal where you live. If it's not, have some s'mores in the microwave. Don't forget the lawn games!
  • Dig deep into your game closet and hold a family game night. Our favorite is Uno Attack, which is lively enough to keep the adults entertained, yet simple enough that my five-year-old can play without too much help.
  • Spend some time planning your next vacation, the one where you actually leave your house. Older kids might like contributing to the vacation fund with a decorated jar to collect household spare change.
Remember, it's not where you are, but who you're with that really matters. By focusing on fun and family time, a staycation can create precious memories for the whole family.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.