I realize that many people don’t think of a vacation as a gift…but they absolutely are! Vacations take a lot of planning, saving and time to execute. But boy are they worth it! Most of my childhood memory highlights are vacations and trips that we took…some lower key trips like camping, and some big ones like Hawaii with my grandma.
It’s spring time and after an especially overcast winter here in Utah we needed some sunshine. But while many of our friends and family flew to beaches for spring break, a big trip wasn’t in our budget (or work schedule) right now.
We decided that we were going to plan a staycation. The first time I heard that term I will admit that I thought it was totally lame. But staycations are awesome in so many ways! They are a great gift to give your kids and could be a great gift for parents to give their grown kids and grandchildren as well! It was so fun to share these staycation tips with viewers on KUTV Channel 2 this morning.
A Staycation is a gift the whole family will enjoy because…
1. You can adapt staycations to any budget
If your budget has room you can stay in a fun hotel or rental, if not you can make your home into a special spot by sleeping in a different place (family sleepover in the front room! Everyone switch bedrooms!) You can eat most meals at home and plan a couple special “eating out nights” You can do at home movie parties, or go out to a movie. It is easy to adapt to whatever amount of money you have available to spend.
2. Staycations allow family members to work if needed
If you or a spouse doesn’t have enough time off for a traditional vacation, you can still work and have a staycation to remember. Whether you bring the laptop along and work in between events, or have dad or mom meet the family for lunch and then join everyone at the hotel after work and participate in the evening events, staycations allow for some latitude in getting work done (and keeping precious vacation days available for bigger trips.
3. Staycations let you experience things that you otherwise wouldn’t take the time to do
It is crazy how we can live somewhere and still pass up amazing attractions that are right next door. Looking at your city with a tourist’s eyes will help you to experience things that you might not normally have time for.
4. Staycations are less stressful
Remember when you were a kid on vacation? Basically all you had to do was pack your clothes and enjoy! Vacations as the parent are a whole ‘nother story, right?! Not only do you have to figure out where you can afford to go, you have to schedule time-off, make arrangements for pets and mail, do laundry and clean the house, pack whoever needs help packing, get the car clean and ready (if you are driving), make flight, hotel, and car reservations, figure out meals, make sure kids have things to entertain them on the trip and once they get there etc etc etc. Staycations eliminate MANY of these planning issues, mean less time traveling, easy access to home (and things you might have forgotten) and if you are sleeping at home better sleep for everyone involved.
5. Staycations make the ordinary extraordinary
When your kitchen becomes a restaurant and your bedroom has turn down service (including a chocolate on your pillow) it makes your boring old house seem special. I love to add magic and fun to my kids’ lives as often as possible and staycations are a fun way to do that!
Tips and tricks for the BEST Staycation
Now that I’ve given you a few reasons why staycations are great, here are some tips and tricks (and free printables)so you can have the best staycation!
It won’t be planning to the level of a normal vacation (see #4 above!) however some planning is definitely a big part of making the staycation fun for everyone (including the one planning it!). Some things to consider:
The number of staycation days
Hotel vs. home (You could do a combo of these too)
Meals vs. eating out
What day time activities (involve the kids in planning this or surprise them!)
Special night time activities (game night, movie night, tournament of sorts etc etc)
Make it special (in the easiest way possible)
This might sound contradictory…but you can make it special AND easy at the same time! What I mean by this is make each day have something special and unusual that you don’t normally do. If you often visit a nearby park you can try out a new one in a neighboring city. Try out new restaurants, visit museums you haven’t been to before…just like you try things out in a new city, do the same in your own city!
The way we made our staycation special and easy was using the Visit Salt Lake Connect Pass. Visit Salt Lake gave us 6 passes to try out and we absolutely loved them. The Connect Pass has SO many activities that you purchase with one pass. We used it to plan our 3 day staycation itinerary. The Visit Salt Lake Connect Pass includes 15 offerings at 13 different attractions. Attractions like the Clark Planetarium, Discovery Gateway, The Leonardo, Lion House Pantry, Tracy Aviary, the Natural History Museum of Utah, Red Butte Garden, Utah’s Hogle Zoo, This is The Place Heritage Park, Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Thanksgiving Point’s Museum of Ancient Life, Museum of Natural Curiosity, Gardens) and theSnowbird Aerial Tram and Utah Olympic Park.
You can purchase passes to be redeemed in 1-day, 2-day, 3-day or 365 days (the price goes up the more days you add). We had the 3-day passes and went to SEVEN different attractions during those days. If we had visited these attractions and paid normal prices we would have spent almost $450! With the purchase of the 3-day Visit Salt Lake Connect passes ($308 total for 2 adults and 4 kids in our family) that’s a savings of $139. That’s a lot of money!
Check with your local visitor’s bureau, local groupon websites, and ask around if anyone knows of similar passes that can save you money. This is also a great money saving tip when you are going on a vacation!
Treat it like a real vacation
One of the reasons why vacations are so much fun is because you leave a lot of your everyday troubles behind. This is a little bit harder when you are at home, but if you make an effort to let the unimportant things slide for a few days then everyone (including you) will have more fun! On our staycation some of the things I let slide were:
Cleaning (except dishes)
Kid chores (because they were on vacation too!)
Most meal prep (I made dinner and some picnic lunches, then we ate out for dinners woohoo!)
For our staycation my kids woke up to find a hotel reception desk in our kitchen. I made some fun, free printables (that you can print too!) for La Casa Hotel (see what I did there?). They each got a fluffy towel, a water bottle, a hotel room key and welcome letter, and a breakfast menu that they filled out and returned to the front desk each day so I could get their breakfast prepared easier. There were definitely some special things on the menu (donuts, sausage and bacon) so they were SUPER excited to order each day. The first night my 3-year-old ordered EVERYTHING on the menu except pancakes and milk. They were all pretty full after our first breakfast and ordered more conservatively the following days.
My five-year-old said, “I love our hotel!” on the second day and it made me feel great. It was fun to “treat” our kids in this little way and I hope the printables I made will help you to do the same without as much work. You can get these printables (Hotel sign, welcome letter, breakfast menu, water bottle covers, room numbers, room cards) free by signing up for the Gift Printables Resource Library below:
I made a concerted effort to play more and enjoy every minute of our staycation. I think our kids notice when we let loose and have fun and they have more fun in turn. We weren’t at the beach or in another country, but our staycation was memorable in its own way. We had tons of fun experiencing Salt Lake and I hope it is a memory my kids will look back on fondly.
Have you taken a staycation? Is there someone on your gift list who might enjoy a staycation?