Planning a Holiday Staycation

By Amy Williams Photo: Prairie View Trail, Courtesy of Tanya Koob

Pg10-BowValleyPark[1]Have you had the pleasure of riding in a towtruck? Our family spent a fascinating few hours crammed in a truck as we bounced across the countryside on our last family vacation. Right after we crossed the border, our trip deviated from our planned itinerary. Instead of the mountains, we were experiencing blinking engine lights and sputtering gaskets.

We soon found ourselves stranded in a strange town, without wheels or a plan. It resulted in a two-day layover that was filled with anxiety about car parts or when a new rental would be available. We were completely at the mercy of pure luck and the dealership.

After last year’s fiasco, our family has decided to forgo the endless hours of road-tripping and living out of suitcases. We had tempted and survived the vacation fates once too many and decided we weren’t up for that kind of adventure again.

Like countless other families, we have decided to enjoy a staycation this year.

A holiday at home

While our sore bums were the main reason for a staycation, here is a quick rundown of just a few of the benefits of choosing to vacation at home this year:

  • We won’t be unpacking and repacking suitcases. We will have access to our entire wardrobe without having to roll or scrunch everything into a 2×4 piece of burlap on wheels.
  • Our heads will rest on our own pillows, and there will be no surprise lumpy mattresses.
  • Our pets won’t need to be kenneled, and we can keep an eye on our house while we enjoy some quality time together.
  • Staying within a two-hour radius will cut down our costs on fuel and lodging. That means less time sitting in a car and more to splurge with – if we want to!
  • We will get to learn about our hometown and surrounding areas. We are taking this opportunity to foster a little local pride in our family and take the time to do the things we’ve always known about but never experienced firsthand.

Eight strategies to make the most of your staycation

Here are eight tips to enjoy your time and avoid any breakdowns:

  1. Take advantage of Groupons and local coupons for events, spas, eateries and concerts.
  2. Embrace nature. Go camping, take a hike, explore natural habitats. (see Explore Family-Friendly Bow Valley Provincial Park by Tanya Koob for some great ideas!)
  3. Wait for off-season discounts. Amusement parks, zoos and other venues might offer reduced admissions during the week or between school breaks.
  4. Plan your dinners in advance to save on cooking and costs. We are planning to eat out for most meals, but you can implement freezer cooking to keep you out of the kitchen.
  5. Load up your queue on Netflix and enjoy a quiet night in as a family.
  6. Avoid doing chores. The point of a staycation is to relax and connect with the family. If you need to clean, plan to complete it before your vacation starts.
  7. Stay at a local hotel, cabin or bed & breakfast if you want the luxury of not having to make beds. Keep an eye out for discounts during the week or special promotions.
  8. Unplug from your devices. Avoid work calls, emails, texting and social media too! Always check your caller ID and let it go to message.

Relaxing local

Staycations can be very fulfilling but like any vacations, they require a little planning. Our plan is to get to know the backroads and undiscovered spots in our neck of the woods. We hope to take in the local National parks, museums, zoos and eat at the newest restaurants we are always too busy to visit.

Properly thinking ahead and maximizing the local areas will hopefully put our family vacations back on track.

Amy is a journalist based in Southern California. As a mother of two, she hopes to use her experience as a parent to help other parents raise their children to be the best that they can be. You can follow her on @AmyKWilliams1,