Friday, April 4, 2014

Frugal Friday: Spring Break Staycation

Vacations are fun, aren't they? But the costs can be a huge burden for a family trying to stay on budget. This year for spring break, we decided last minute to change our plans and have staycation. I'm really excited. Not only will it save us a bit of money, I actually think it will be more fun. Today I'll share some of our ideas for our spring break staycation and hopefully hear some of yours also.

My husband found some fun on our last day trip adventure. 

The Family Hotel - I got this idea from a neighbor whose kids are grown. She said they had a family hotel when their kids were little and they loved it. She put room numbers on all the rooms in the house. Then in the master bedroom they set it up with pillows and sleeping bags like a big hotel room and camped out in there for their staycation. I loved that idea so we'll be doing that for ours. We're also going to have room service. I'll give the kids a card to fill out the night before with what they want for breakfast. They'll get a choice of things for breakfast that are a treat for them. Probably on our list will be cold cereal, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins, and Waffles. They'll also get to choose things like chocolate milk and stuff that we don't have very often to make it a special occasion. My husband once stayed in a fancy hotel that made his bed and left chocolates on his pillows every night. Won't that be fun to include in our family hotel? I'm sure you can think of lots of other things to include also. The lady I talked to that did it said they didn't answer the phone that week and just made it super special for her kids. They even filled up a kiddie wading pool with warm water to go swimming in the "hot tub" one day. So awesome. You could also do a camping theme and set up the tent inside or even outside if it's warm enough.

The Food - It wouldn't be fun for everyone if one person was in the kitchen cooking or cleaning after everyone else. That's not really a staycation. That's just normal life. So depending on what your budget allows, plan ahead for meals or eat out. We're planning on eating out for dinner meals, packing a picnic lunch and eating breakfast at the "family hotel". That's what we do on vacations so we'll do it on our staycation too. If you're budget is too tight for eating out, you could splurge on disposable dishes and make easy dinners ahead of time to freeze and warm up. Make sure to include your kids favorite meals so it makes it even more exciting for them.

Have the Kids Plan it - Part of making the adventure memorable for the kids is including them in the planning. Give them some guidelines, but find out what they really want to do and try to include it as much as possible. I asked the kids if they want to stay home mostly during our staycation or be away from home mostly. They chose be away from home mostly, which I figured they would. So we've picked day trips to do away from home each day. If that doesn't work for you though don't give them the choice. Let them choose other things. Involving them in the planning helps them be excited and look forward to the fun.

Day Trips - As I mentioned, we're planning adventures to do each day away from home. We're doing things like swimming at a rec center that we've never been to. Riding the train into the city to go to a museum. And going to the aquarium. Again if you're budget doesn't allow activities that cost that much, find things that are free or cheaper. I've shared lots of ideas that would be perfect in my post on More than 100 Frugal Family Activities for Spring. Another idea that I read about and loved was a playground extravaganza. You pack a picnic lunch and spend the day playing at local playgrounds and parks. That would be a lot of fun. If you lived close enough to them, you could even bike or walk to some of them.

The New and Exciting - Make sure to include the "new and exciting" element into your staycation. Do things you've never done, but have wanted to. Doing something new adds spark and zest to life, which is one reason why vacations are so appealing to people. With a little planning, that spark and zest is possible even in a staycation. Don't be afraid to change plans part way through the day. If you can be spontaneous but still stick to the budget, do it. Those spontaneous moments are so often the best memories.

Free Time - A few weeks ago my son and I planned a little day trip for our family. I learned some important things from him that I wanted to share. We started out planning our day. He had everything figured out, down to the minute we'd leave, where we'd go, etc. We got to lunch time and then he left the afternoon wide open. "Free time" he called it. We went on our adventure and it was a blast. We enjoyed the activities he had planned in the morning and then we got to free time. It was grand. We may have even enjoyed those activities even more. So don't forget that "free time".

Well I hope that gives you some ideas to get started planning your next staycation. What about you? What has your family done? I'd love to hear your ideas. Thanks for sharing. Have a great day!

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