As the economy was negatively impacted in 2007~ the term Staycation emerged
Staycation is generally defined as a vacation within driving distance. Some say a Staycation means that you return home each night. No, that’s a day trip. A staycation is a vacation within driving distance where you do NOT stay at home. In my opinion, if you stay home than you will also be cooking, cleaning, laundry, paying bills and other household chores. Incorporate friends or relatives visiting from out-of-town into your staycation, but don’t get stuck playing tour guide. View the Top 10 Reasons to Staycation below.
10. Rest, Relax and Rejuvenate: Families generally go on a vacation to get away from it all, to sightsee, and spend time together. Staycation is the perfect way to rest, relax and rejuvenating since you are eliminating the congested airports, towing luggage all over the place and riding shuttles to the rental car center. Getting away from the house, means getting away from all of the chores and schedule which we deal with on a daily basis. It is important to relax during your staycation and the best way to do that is to leave the schedule behind. Just because you are not far from home, doesn’t mean you aren’t able to rest, relax and rejuvenate. Do not return home during your staycation, do not go into work and do not stick to your usual routine. Read a book, take walks, BBQ if staying at a time share facility, and don’t live in the car. Bring board games, kids games (non-electronic), cards, chess or legos. Games are a great way for families to reconnect!! Games also bring about great conversation and concentration.
9. Book Last Minute: One of the perks of going on a staycation, is that you don’t have to make reservations way in advance. Staycations are destinations in which you can drive to in one day and therefore, can be the last minute. Maybe you feel like dropping everything spur of the moment to just get away for a weekend or notice that the kids will be out of school for a short break and decide to drive someplace. Often times, the best deals are the last minute. It is difficult to vacation spur of the moment when you have to worry about airfare. For example, we live on an island and must book airfare well in advance to obtain the best rates. We also live in a top vacation destination year-round, resulting in sold out flights. Watch for hotel and local attraction deals on-line, in the local paper or on TV. Hotels want high occupancy and if they realize that bookings are down, they may lower rates. Typically, there are not great deals around a holiday weekend. If you wish to staycation over a holiday, retreat to a place where you can escape the crowds.
8. Experience Resorts: Is there a resort that you’ve always dreamed of staying at? Staycations are a fantastic way to experience resorts. If your dream resort is expensive and that’s why you’ve never stayed there, then start your research! Call and ask questions. Ask when their rates are the lowest. For example, in Las Vegas, resorts are typically 50-100% more expensive on a Friday/Saturday then Sun-Thursday. Ask what their off-season rate is and when it is off-season for that resort. Don’t assume when their off-season is. Some resorts host large events annually such as tennis tournaments and golf torments which makes their season different from that of another hotel. Places like Manhattan, San Francisco and the entire state of Hawaii may be pricey year-round. If that is the case, start researching vacation rentals by owner. There are numerous sites advertising vacation rentals which also display pictures and guest reviews. Browse through vacation magazines, there is a lot of great information!!! Check out the website of the hotel you are interested in visiting and sign up to receive their newsletter.
7. “Schedule-free” Family Time: “Schedule-free” family time is the challenge with staycations. We all live on this crazy schedule day in and day out. Everyone needs and break from it now and again. The kids need a break, the parents need and break. Downtime and reconnecting should be the priority for families. But here’s what happens – you get that email from work, remember that something is due and decide to run into work just real quick because it is close. One of the kids has a mandatory practice which you really shouldn’t miss because the game or recital is coming up next weekend. Errands~ because you are passing by a part of town where you have an errand to run, you decide to just stop in for a brief moment. I call these STAYCATION KILLERS! When you do just one of these things, it puts the family right back into a schedule. Something as simple as watching your favorite Tuesday night show as a family while on staycation is still a schedule/routine. Don’t do it! If you have to run into work, which we have had to do, don’t mention it to the kids. Let them hang by the pool or participate in an activity while the other parent runs into work. Schedule-free means that you take off on a family bike ride without scheduling it. Talk about what activities everyone wants to do and then pick one and go. When the activity needs to be scheduled in advance, such as a whale-watching excursion, try to ensure that nothing else that day is preplanned. For example, it would be over scheduling the day to plan a whale-watch and then have a dinner reservation at a specific time. Be spontaneous. The goal is to take a break from the intense schedules in which we operate from on a daily basis. If the weather permits, get outside and explore as much as possible. Being outside is a stress relief for many people. We all spend so much time in doors at work and in the classroom, why not get outside? Taking a walk each night after dinner allows for great conversation and exercise!
6. Indulge in Resort Amenities: Resorts offers a ton of activities and amenities for free! Timeshare is notorious for having things to do each day for the entire family. Activities commonly include, hula hopping contests, tissue paper flower making, sunrise yoga classes, scuba lessons in the pool, tour of the grounds or gardens, tattoo (fake) art, live music, and seasonal activities such as snow shoeing, s’mores or making gingerbread houses. Timeshare resorts have a daily calendar. Hotels may or may not offer free activities. Some hotels have water footballs, volleyball, basketballs and rafts for rent at the pool desk. These activities are fun for the whole family! Due to liability, many resorts have removed water slides from the pool area and have replaced them with water volleyball nets or basketball hoops. Most resorts include amenities such as day spas, fitness centers, hot tubs, and kids clubs. Watch out for the kids clubs! They are quite convenient and include fun activities but they can be very expensive. Ask if they have discounts for local residents, as they do in Hawaii. Many resorts have redbox available for video rental. These are great because movies are usually half the price that they would be if you ordered on the television.
5. Wine & Dine: Timeshare is a great way to staycation because you can cook some meals there and they usually have BBQ facilities. Even if your goal is “no cooking” at least the kids can eat a bowl of cereal in the morning. Going out to eat is what vacation is all about. Take the family out to a nice restaurant or a place that you wouldn’t normally go while on staycation. Normally, we wouldn’t let the kids order a real expensive entrée when going out to eat. Often times we require that they split a meal or order off of the kids menu. While on stacycation, since you are saving money on the rental car and airfare, it can be fun to let them order anything they want, within reason of course. It doesn’t have to be about money. For example, if your kids love ice cream but it’s not something you would normally let them eat- surprise them and go out for ice cream! Our kids associate a Roy Rogers or Shirley Temple with being on vacation, as they are not allowed to have soda at home. Stacycation is all about enjoying each other, having fun, getting along and making memories. We do this with their bed times. If their bed time is 8:30 p.m. at home on school nights, than we may let them stay up until 10 p.m. while staycationing. Watch for restaurant specials at the hotel. Resorts may offer an early bird dinner time, breakfast buffet for guests only, or wine tasting nights. It is really nice if you don’t have to drive to go out to eat. If you do drive, try dining at a new place for your family. When on a vacation, almost all experiences are new, so why not make staycation experiences new as well.
4. Discover Local Area Attractions: Some of the things our kids have experienced on staycation are: horseback riding, whale-watching boat tours, tubing down a canal, and touring botanical gardens. It doesn’t matter where you live, there is something that attracts people. Get to know your area. People say to me all the time, “Well I would staycation too if I lived in Hawaii”. The drawbacks of staycationing on an island is that there isn’t anywhere to drive to, the hotels are always packed with tourists and great deals are rarely available. The benefits of staycation when you are not on an island, means you can choose from an array of places to drive to which sometimes includes different states. Mix up the attractions. Not all attractions have to be fun, they can be adventurous, out of your comfort zone and even interesting. Interesting activities are great because they kids can write a report about it and share with their class when they return. For example, on Kauai an interesting activity may include touring the guava plantation, coffee farms, heading to the lighthouse to learn about the bird refuge or visiting bee keepers. If you don’t know what is in your backyard, research local attractions. What is your state known for? What do people do when they visit? Have you been to the National Parks? This is exactly what we do prior to entering a foreign country but we don’t take the time to research where we live. My preference is to lean towards the educational attractions rather than the water parks and theme parks. However, our kids enjoy it all so we mix it up with maybe one theme event and the rest more educational. Another thing to do, is research what events are taking place during the time you plan to visit. Is there a concert, opera or theater performance that you’ve always wanted to see? Hotel concierge can be a great resource and you can speak with them prior to arrival by calling or emailing the hotel. Keep in mind, concierge may be working on commission of the total activity sales. Therefore, they may push more expensive activities on the guests. The best thing to do is inquire in advance and ask for information via email or brochures to be mailed. Reviewing available activities on the car ride to your staycation can be a fun way to get the family excited.
3. Take Advantage of Rates for Local Residents: Certain locations do offer resident only discounts. These discounts may be in the way of hotel stays, entrance to the a theme park, dining and more. I’ve found that the locations that offer these discounts tend to be high touristy areas. The vendors want the local business so they offer discounts. In Hawaii, it is referred to as Kama’aina and it may apply to certain hotels/resorts, restaurants (rarely), day spas, activities, golf, water park, and other services. It does not apply to airfare, car sales, grocery stores, schooling, gym memberships, concert tickets, movies, shopping or gas. I do know that theme parks such as Disneyland, The Magic Kingdom and SeaWorld offer discounted season passes for residents. Hotels/Resorts commonly advertise specials where kids eat half off with each paying adult or sometimes even for free. Inquire with the concierge about discounts and specials. Many specials have absolutely nothing to do with where you live, but everything to do with the season or time of year. Local rates are usually advertised locally. Read your weekly magazines, on line coupons and daily papers to discover the great deals in your area!
2. Less Time in Airports, More Time to Stayca:On average travelers arrive at the airport at least 2 hours in advance for a single flight. That doesn’t include connection times. Add another hour for each connection and 40 minutes to collect luggage, now we are at almost 4 hours to travel by airline to a destination with one connection- assuming that the flights are all on time! Eliminating airline travel from your vacation allows more time to spend doing the things you want to do, such as check in a hotel and head out to the pool or go on a hike. There are also benefits of traveling in your personal vehicle. One benefit is being familiar with the space you have. There is nothing worse than arriving at your destination, renting a car and trying to fit 4 suitcases plus the kids and realizing you don’t have enough room. We recently rented a vehicle, chose a full size in advance for space and when we got in, I couldn’t see out of the windows! The vehicle had low, bucket seats and with winter weather to boot, visibility became an issue. Pack your vehicle a head of time, move things around to maximize space, plan as a family what each person would like to bring. Since you’re not dealing with the airlines, bring the extra things that the kids will want and avoid driving back home. Avoid maps!!! What a luxury to not have to GPS or pull out maps. If visiting an unfamiliar destination on your staycation, review the directions in advance from home. Print them out or save them to your phone.
1. Save Money!!!! $$$$ Eliminate the cost of a rental car and airfare times each person in your family. If money is tight, it doesn’t mean that you have to skip a vacation altogether. The truth is that kids love to stay in a hotel no matter where it is. Adults love to stay in hotels as well to relax and avoid cooking and cleaning. Our family saves a minimum of 3-4K by eliminating airfare for 4 people to the Mainland and even more when traveling International. The savings in airfare alone, could pay for several staycations throughout the year. Be creative and have fun!!
5wheelsto5star was featured in the March 2014 issue of Destinations Travel Magazine