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The Family Stay-Cation – Save Money and Have Fun!


In these trying economic times, many families are foregoing the traditional summer vacation to save money. Going on a road trip has become an expensive proposition with high gas prices and airline ticket prices can be downright unfriendly to families trying to make ends meet. That’s where the stay-cation comes in. It is an inexpensive alternative that solves the problem of getting some quality fun time with your kids without the high cost and hassle of travel.

What exactly is a stay-cation?

My personal definition would be a period of time where your regular routine is temporarily suspended so you can concentrate on just having fun with your family. Kids really just want time with you. They don’t necessarily care if that happens in a theme park or in your back yard. Full blown travel vacations can be exhausting and over-stimulating for children who often crave sameness (you know what I’m talking about – you’ve read that same storybook to Joey 132 times and counting).

Explore and do things that you normally wouldn’t do. Take the time to really see the best spots that your town has to offer. Your local tourism office or chamber of commerce can help point out the most popular or overlooked places to visit. There are often cultural gems sitting right under your nose that you have forgotten about. Try to think like a tourist. What would you want to check out if you were only going to be here for a week or two? “Mom, remember that time we dressed up and went to the Star Wars Convention. That was awesome!”

Some easy, fun ideas for stay-cation activities could include:

1. Focusing on a theme. Pretend you are going to another country or state. Go to Hawaii for the day by renting a video on how to learn Hula dancing, decorate with fake tropical flowers from a party store and wear Hawaiian print shirts all day. Try a backyard camping trip. Set up the tent, cook all your meals outside and play Frisbee and other outdoor games.

2. Try a family project. Maybe finding the best ice cream in a 50 mile radius would be the ticket. Have your kids research and put together a list of all the local ice cream shops, and find and mark them on a map. Take a notebook with you when visiting each location, so everyone can write down their favorite flavors and shops. Then you can vote on your top three places.

3. Check out new destinations and activities.

  • Museums and parks usually have free events going on all year. Everything from music programs, kid-friendly art, and hands-on science exhibits can be fun and educational to boot.
  • Public Libraries often have story time, arts and crafts, kid’s music shows and maybe a puppet show thrown in.
  • Don’t overlook local colleges. Community events and sports are happening all the time at universities. Go check out what is happening on campus.
  • Community festivals are going on year round all over the country. Maybe there is something happening in your neck of the woods. They could be focused on all kinds of things like Chili cook-offs, Blues music, Lavender, and one of my favorites, Skijoring (being pulled on snow skis behind a galloping horse through an obstacle course – Yes, people really sign up to do this).

The family stay-cation is alive and well. Your “trip” could be for a weekend or as long as a few weeks. Get out in your town or even just your back yard and explore. Happy trails!


Source by Kari Halstead

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