Staycation is one of those made-up travel words that trends during economic slumps to make everyone feel better about sticking around town. The idea is you hit up the attractions in your own area and see your city or state with new eyes. But you don’t have to wait until you need to tighten the purse strings to plan a family staycation. Whether you’re short on time, are terrified of traveling with little ones on an airplane or the timing is just off, you can plan a world-class staycation without compromising on fun.
Here’s your game plan for planning the best staycation for your family.
Book an Amazing Hotel
There’s no rule that says your staycation means you need to sleep at home. If it’s in your budget, consider renting a luxury hotel downtown with sparkling views and offering a world-class experience. Look for amenities like hot tubs, pools, an amazing in-house restaurant with room service options and a kids club to turn it into a real vacation. If you don’t have the budget, skip the uninspired motels and try camping instead or pitch a tent in the living room with a fantastic array of snacks and ready-to-go s’mores before watching a movie.
It’s tempting to just jot down the top five or six attractions in your area and call it a day. But before you finalize your itinerary and head out, really think about your family’s idea of fun. Is spending the day at an art museum or an overcrowded aquarium really what you and your kids want to do? Or is mixing in a cooking class, going on a walking tour with a guide and finding a sporting event a better fit for something truly fun? Remember this staycation is about having a blast in your own city, not necessarily seeing all the usual attractions again for the fifth time.
Get Off the Beaten Path
While you’re rethinking what fun is all about and where to go on your vacation, scour Facebook groups, travel sites and ask around to get off the beaten path ideas for your family staycation. Sleuth out new options for hiking in tucked-away areas, go camping, hit up an oddball attraction on the outskirts of town you vaguely heard of before and book your family on an unusual and funky art tour.
Snag a Discount
Just because you’re sticking around home doesn’t mean you can’t score a big discount on attractions on your staycation. Approach your staycation planning just like you would a real vacation and look to sites like Priceline to bid on a luxury hotel or grab a City Pass for discount attraction tickets for your family. But here’s the trick to turning those savings into something more than just a smug and satisfied feeling. With your added savings, apply it to a fun splurge like a trip to the hotel gift shop or lunch at a rooftop restaurant to really wow your family.
Turn It Into a Reunion
There’s no rule that says a staycation is for your immediate family only. Turn it into a full-blown reunion with friends or family and team up together. Book a block of rooms together, plan your itineraries together and go crazy and print up matching t-shirts. You may end up having so much fun it turns into an annual event.
Here’s what you’ll ultimately learn about a family staycation: Travel is largely a state of mind and you can capture that feeling of wonderment and inspiration in your own city. So pack your bag, drive across town and get ready to show your kids a whole new world.