By Paige McEachren
We’re a family who loves to explore. We love all the sights, experiences and adventures travel provides. But we also know it can be equally as decadent to stay right at home – without any responsibilities. This is why staycations can be so great – if you plan them properly. We’re always on the hunt for intriguing staycation ideas for couples, plus summer activities for kids, should we need to entertain the whole family.
A ‘staycation’ is pretty much the same as taking a vacation, except you’re staying in and enjoying activities within driving distance. This means the packing is minimal and you don’t have to shell out for a hotel – unless you want to. It also means a lot less stress. No need to worry about forgetting passports, your kid’s favourite stuffy or medication. For busy couples and families, a staycation can be exactly what you need to slow down and enjoy each other’s company, without too much planning or stress.
Staycation ideas for couples
Having a romantic getaway doesn’t have to mean splurging on fancy restaurants and far flung destinations. Some of the best vacations I’ve taken with my husband require no plane at, which is why I’m a big fan of gathering staycation ideas for couples.
For me, vacationing doesn’t have to mean traveling far away. It’s about adventuring together. Since we have kids, it can be challenging to find someone to babysit, but this is where relatives, swapping off with friends and putting the kids into summer camp comes in. Staycations à deux allow us to get away as a couple, so we can spend quality time together reconnecting.
Here are some of our favourites staycation ideas for couples:
- Sip a craft cocktail at a sexy hotel lobby bar. Just don’t get your clothes stuck on the escalator. (See above.)
- Exploring our city like a tourist. A lot of cities offer bike and walking tours which always opens our eyes to hidden gems we never knew existed. Local food or brewery tours are also quite fun.
- Hit a local spa. Try a couples’s massage or go for individual treatments and catch up in the co-ed lounge. Outdoor Nordic spas are great options for guys who might balk at a fussy one.
- Wine classes, cooking classes and paint and sip nights are also fun. It’s about doing something different and it’s easier to connect while doing a shared activity.
- Check your local science centre or museum to see of they have a weekly or monthly date night.
- Go to an amusement park for a shot of adrenaline.
- Staying overnight in a local hotel. It’s so much fun to order room service and draw a bath in a tub you don’t have to clean. If you have kids, set them up with a sleepover at their friend’s house.
Cheap vacation ideas
Staycations are a great, inexpensive idea. Before the term ‘staycation’ became popular that’s all my family did when I was growing up. I enjoyed picking blueberries, going fishing, visiting community art shows and spending time with my parents. I never really thought about the difference between that and a vacation on a plane. It’s all about perspective.
Remember, just because it’s a cheap vacation, doesn’t mean it can’t be great. In fact, some of the best cheap staycation ideas don’t cost anything at all. But you do need to switch up your routine so it feels different.
Here are a few we like:
- Have a picnic in the park
- Hit some nearby hiking or biking trails.
- Lounge at a beach, lake or river
- Check out free entertainment
- Swap houses with a friend that lives not too far away. Explore their neighbourhoods and cookbooks.
Once you get thinking about staycation ideas, there is no limit to what you can do. Hop online or visit your local tourism office for an endless supply of staycation ideas. We put up a bulletin board in our kitchen and when a flyer comes by or we hear of an activity or attraction we’re interested in, it gets stuck on the board. When it comes time to do something, we put all these brochures in a bowl and take turns picking an idea.
Looking for a few easy staycation ideas?
- Try something new
- Take a cooking or art class
- Unplug and disconnect from electronic devices
- Host a board game tournament
- Go to the library and take out a dozen different magazines and books
- Have a complete make-over day. Get hair, make-up and clothing inspiration from your local shopping centre. Many beauty counters will give you complimentary lessons.
- Be spontaneous
Summer activities for kids
Kids deserve a break in summer. But just because they aren’t in school doesn’t mean they ought to sit around on devices all day. If you have weekday flexibility, you could take one day a week off and take your kids on a staycation adventure. Or, head out on the weekend and let the kids pick what things they would like to do.
Try to pick summer activities for kids on staycation that will fit all your children. Giving them a wider range of possibilities will peak their interests and help them find something they like. For my kids, my son likes electronics and my daughter likes being outside. We found geocaching and orienteering was a great way to give them both something they like.
If you’re Canadian, here’s a great book where you can get some inspiration for your local area:
Here are some of our favourite family staycation ideas:
- Get outside
- Go Camping
- Give Back
- Get crafty with a family renovation project
- Scavenger hunt in your neighbourhood
- Bake off challenges
- If there’s no petting zoo nearby, see if you can take a neighbour’s dog for a walk
Ready to start your staycation?
You don’t have to be living the jet set life to travel. Get to know your area and you’ll be surprised at what you find. We discovered organic farming, bee keeping, alpacha farms and so much more. Every year we try to do a few staycations and we all seem to like those vacations best. An added bonus is that if you find something you really like, it likely isn’t too far away, so you can keep going back.
Have you ever purposefully taken a staycation? Where do you like going that’s close to home for you?
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