It’s summertime. The kids are on vacation from school. And even if you are homeschooling year-round, the kids’ activities are over. Not to mention the nice weather. This is the time that most families schedule a vacation. A time of visiting new places and getting away from the routine.
But what if you are on a budget? Or you just don’t like traveling? Maybe you have a child who doesn’t travel well or has health issues making travel too complicated. Sometimes a trip away, even for the weekend, is not possible.
The answer is simple. Have a staycation!
What is a staycation? Exactly what it sounds like. Having a vacation while staying where you are. And that doesn’t have to mean staying at home. (Though it can if that’s your thing.) There is a myriad of ways to have the ultimate staycation that is both fun and cheap.
Every city and even most small towns have tourist offices. These are usually located downtown or in the heart of a local tourist attraction. And they are brilliant places to look for things to do. Because they cater to people unfamiliar to the area, they are treasure troves of information about your hometown.
And in this age of the internet, even the smallest villages have either their own website or Facebook page with all the usual tourist information including addresses, hours, and pricing. Here is the English version of the site for Calais as an example. And here is the French version.
Visit your local tourist office or look at their online version. Try to find something to do that is off the beaten trail. Or that you didn’t even know about your town. Then plan a trip to see that attraction.
Or make a plan to visit the big attraction. You know the one. The thing that your city is known for. Especially if you have never been. Do you know how many Parisians have never been to the Eiffel Tower? Or visited the Louvre?
Here in Calais, there are thousands of people who have never been to the beach. Even though it is literally only minutes away from just about anywhere. Personally, I’ve never been to visit the lighthouse or taken a walk up the Beffroi du Mairie.
When you live in a place, especially if you’ve lived there your entire life, it is quite easy to overlook all the touristy things. Usually, because you don’t consider yourself a tourist.
Play Tour Guide
But what if you have already played tourist and seen all the tourist attractions your town has to offer? Maybe you’ve seen everything already and doing it again doesn’t sound very thrilling.
Why not invite friends or family who’ve never been and show them around. Play the tour guide. Have your kids pick their favorite spot, learn everything they can about it, and share it during your visit.
Not only can it be fun to play the part, but they’ll be learning something as well. Maybe they can even try to dress the part. Complete with name tags and bullhorns.
Spend More Time in Nature
Often, during the school year, we are so busy with the multiple activities and appointments, that we tend to stick pretty close to home. I know I do. As I mentioned in my post, Nature Walks – Expectation vs. Reality, we have some many great natural parks and sites in our area that I can never seem to get to during the year.
Now is the perfect time to go check those out. With fewer time constraints and more free spaces in our schedule, we can easily take a 20-minute bus ride or car trip to that out-of-the-way cave, beach, forest, or park.
An added bonus is the fact that the weather is much nicer in most places this time of year. In fact, if you live near a forest or a beach, I would wager that this is the best time of year to go. Obviously, when it is hot, swimming is the perfect way to cool down. But if you are trying to avoid the sun, forests are wonderful. And often up to 10 degrees less than the surrounding area.
So pick a hot day, and plan an outing to the closest beach or forest to complete your ultimate staycation plans Charlotte Mason style.
Make a Vacation Camp at Home
If you are like me and live in a touristy area, sometimes going out to play the tourist at this time of year is not as interesting. Prices may be more expensive than during the off-season. Not to mention the crowds.
And though you may want to send the kids to summer camp but find the prices prohibitive, don’t let that stop you from creating your own.
Pick up games at a thrift store. Browse Pinterest for cheap and easy do-it-yourself activities. Buy snacks that you usually don’t let the kids have. Maybe invite your kids’ friends or the neighborhood kids to join in. Set aside a week to spend making your camp. Create a schedule and make posters to do it up right. If you have the necessary gear (and space) you can even camp out in the backyard at night.
You can even let the kids join in. I’m sure they would love being able to find a name for their camp, help you make the signs, and pick the activities.
Spend a Night at a Local Motel
Do you remember when you were a kid? And during a particularly long trip, your parents decided to stop at a roadside motel? Or maybe the hotel was planned in advance and you had to stay a couple of nights because of where you were traveling?
I always loved being in new motels. Even those less-than-modern spots with the beds that vibrated when you put in a quarter. There is something so exciting about sleeping in a bed that is not your own when you are a kid. It’s such an adventure to use the ice machine or wander the halls just looking around. And, if you are really lucky, take a swim in the swimming pool or hang out in the sauna.
Maybe an entire trip is out of the question for your budget. But why not check out your local hotels and book a room for one night? Again, if you live in a touristy area, this may not actually be the best time as prices tend to go up in the summer. Your ultimate staycation doesn’t need to spend entirely at home.
But if you can, pack an overnight bag and give your kids the adventure of sleeping in a motel. It might even be more fun giggling over the fact that you are just down the street from your own home.
Summertime is often the best time for most families to get away and take a little vacation. Kids are no longer in school. Activities are over. And the weather is often the best it is going to get all year.
But if time, money, family constraints, or all of the above prohibit you from leaving on a big trip, don’t worry. You can have just as much fun having a staycation. And I guarantee your kids will remember it as the ultimate staycation for years to come.