Staycations: how to enjoy a holiday at home
The main centres
If you live in one of the country’s major city's or tourist destinations there is a host of things you can do with your family on a staycation. Chances are that you don’t have much time to enjoy them on the average weekend. A staycation allows you to see your home town through the eyes of a newcomer. If you live in a smaller town or city, you can still have a fun-filled and relaxing holiday – it just takes a bit of planning.
Start researching as soon as you know when you’ll take your break and you’ll find there are all manners of activities going on in your area.
Before your staycation starts:
- Work out your budget and how much you want to spend over the period.
- Think about what you’d do if you had friends or family visiting your area.
- Talk to your friends about what they’d recommend and for any tips or ideas (hideaway waterfalls or bushwalks, little-known beaches or coves).
- Keep an eye on your local paper and online to see what free events are coming up that your family would enjoy (food, music, arts and craft festivals, for example).
- As well as browsing your paper for discounts that offer one free child with a paying adult (this sort of thing can make a big difference to a week-long staycation) be alert to posters in kids’ shops, at your local mall or library. Activities in these places are often inexpensive or free – and range from craft and Lego building, to author visits and movie nights. Use your phone to take a snap of the information so you can refer to it when you’re planning your time.
- Consider a mix of indoor and outdoor activities – some that you can interchange at short notice if the weather changes (movies for the pool for example).
- Look for cheap and cheerful craft activities including board games and cake mixes. An indoor day at home can be fun-filled with something for everyone.
- If you don’t have time to cook some meals in advance, have ‘freezer surprise’ for dinner occasionally and use up your leftovers (so you don’t have to cook full meals the whole time).
- Do plan to eat out occasionally (you need a break too), but on other days plan to take picnics (a staycation should work out cheaper than going away but eating out too often can put a huge dent in your wallet).
- Sign up for some ‘offer’ websites such as Spreets and Grab One in advance and you’ll spot numerous discounts on tourist attractions (from ice skating and boating to movies and theatre) and meal deals in your area.
Make like a tourist
Make a list of activities that you think your family would enjoy, that are within your budget (and sanity level) and that you are genuinely prepared to follow through with. Ask each of your children to choose one that they really want to do. This way, everyone gets to do one ‘major’ thing – be that a long bike ride, a picnic at the waterfall, a trip to the movies etc.
Plan your week
Write a list of everything you want to do – more than you can do – then plot your week. Aim to have a quieter day following a really active day. Consider whether you’ll be ‘at home’ to social phone calls and emails, and think about whether you want to impose an ‘electronics ban’ during the hours of 9am-4pm, for example. Get them on board with the idea in advance and politely remind them. (If rain stops play you might need to loosen those restrictions – or you could put your gumboots and raincoat on and take off into the great outdoors.)
A pyjama day (movies, PJs, down time) is always a fun way to start the holidays and give everyone a break – but don’t be tempted into doing more than one … otherwise you’ll find the days get away from you and you fall into your usual at-home habits. You have to be strict with yourself – this is a holiday for you too.
Plan plenty of outdoor time – picnics and bushwalks are fun and easy wins with kids. They might fuss at the idea of a ‘boring’ walk, but once you get amongst it they’ll have a blast. If you’re heading to inland water you can feed the ducks, take a board or inflatable and get out on the water – maybe build a fire and roast marshmallows. Take a selection of outdoor games and you’ll be there for hours.
Aim for a few late nights, with torchlight walks or an open-air movie. If the weather is good, consider pitching a tent in your backyard – your kids will love you for it. Let the kids have ‘sleepovers’ in each other's rooms – or let them build a fort and sleep in the loungeroom (just be sure to set the boundaries about when it needs to be removed, etc.).
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