Making the Most of Your Staycation

Trying to rein in spending this summer? This year, forgo the pricey vacation and opt for the cheap and cheerful staycation. Staycations can be a surprisingly fun alternative, if you put a little planning and effort into it. Dial down the day-to-day drudgery and schedule in loads of exciting activities – and your holiday will be a resounding success!

Drop the Routine:

  • Treat work the same as you would, when out of the country. Can’t avoid being ‘on call’? Keep it to emergencies. Otherwise it isn’t a proper vacation.
  • Take care of household chores beforehand, or afterwards. A relaxing holiday doesn’t include laundry, cleaning and grocery shopping.
  • Clear the family calendar. Take a break from regularly scheduled obligations, classes and sports. Replace with fun-filled, group activities.
  • Set appropriate expectations within your social circle i.e. you’ll be unreachable for the duration, or responding to urgent issues only.

Switch Off Electronics:

  • Utilize ‘out-of-office’ settings on computers and phones. Others will be less likely to panic when you don’t respond instantly.
  • Turn off the idiot box. PVR your favourite programs and catch up afterwards; Or better yet, prove that you can live without TV for a week or two.
  • Ditch the video games. Leave the virtual world behind and enjoy some real fun for a change.
  • Put the smart phone down! Make a pact to minimize calls (work and personal) and set up a fine system for family members that circumvent the rules. Spend the extra cash on holiday adventures.
  • Avoid surfing the net. If you need to look something up, pop online quickly, then shut down. Email and the internet can be all consuming. Don’t get sucked into the vortex.

Focus on Fun:

  • What activities would you suggest to out-of-towners? Grab a local guidebook and re-discover your city’s top attractions.
  • Add a little drama to your life. Attend a summer blockbuster, a drive-in movie, a live theatre show, or devour a much anticipated book.
  • The sporty type? Take in a major league game, find a pool, water park or recreational area, or map out a personalized hiking or biking tour of the city.
  • Enjoy some cerebral relaxation at local museums, art galleries, historic properties, science centres and zoos. In Toronto, free tickets are available at your library.
  • If you’re near open water, consider a boating excursion. Rent kayaks, take sailing lessons, or book a ferry tour, for a great day on the waves.
  • Gather family and friends for a good old-fashioned picnic or BBQ, at a community park. Bring along refreshments, toys and games to keep everyone occupied and content.
  • Foodies will gobble up the chance to visit new/favourite restaurants and social butterflies are likely to appreciate concerts, pub crawls or clubbing.
  • Schedule a daytrip to explore beyond city limits. Find cheap thrills at the amusement park, savour a regional wine tour, bask at a nearby beach, or nibble your way through your local farmers market.

Staycations aren’t synonymous with deprivation. Break from your regular routine, channel your inner tourist and don’t waste a moment! You’ll return to work refreshed and recharged – and still have money in your pocket. It just might be the best vacation you’ve ever had.

What’s your favourite staycation activity? How you plan to enjoy your hometown, in the summer of 2013?

The Staycation – A Vacation You Take Without the Usual Stress and High Costs

The term staycation hasn’t been with us for more than a couple of years and in the current financial crisis people and families are torn between needing to get away for a while and managing their budgets. The objective of a staycation is to take what your immediate area has to offer and do what you want to do. Needing to relax is more important than ever, your decisions are more important and you need to be able to focus and think rationally and that only happens in minds that are not over worked or stressed out.

So you need some time away, but don’t have the cash to go anywhere. Whether its just you or the whole family, start with blocking out some time by scheduling vacation days with work; now you are committed. The next step is to find out what each person you are traveling with would enjoy doing during some of that time. Lastly, research the options in your area and don’t let the word research scare you. This is going to be a fun project and if your kids are old enough they can research the activity that they have chosen. You’ll want to know what the hours of operation are, the cost, supplies needed, any restrictions (like are strollers allowed) and plan each day accordingly.

If the children have drastically different preferences for activities or choose expensive activities, then it may make a lot of sense to divide and conquer. The kids are happy doing what they enjoy, you get to enjoy some “quality time” with one of your children when they are their best. The other idea is to set a limit as to how much a child’s activity can cost. If one child’s activity is cheaper, then their day may get to include dinner at their favorite restaurant, a stop at the ice cream stand on the way home or even a new fishing pole to take to the lake that day.

The cost will be so dramatically less expensive then traveling somewhere, that you can probably have an expensive date night at a nice restaurant, go to a play, stay in a local hotel with a pool for the kids, go to a local amusement park or have one overnight trip with the rest of the time spent locally.

If you are the type of person that never sits still, then you won’t have a problem thinking of things to do and will have a great time. If you are the type that can spend an entire weekend on the couch, then the biggest risk associated with staycations is treating it like it’s a weekend and never getting off the couch or running errands and doing housework, so you end up not doing anything fun. That’s why I think planning a staycation is important for these people, because it’s easier to follow through when you have plans.

One last piece of advise to consider is about those you enjoy spending time with and have fun with them. If that means dinner with the next door neighbors or seeing family, then great; but this isn’t a holiday, so you don’t have to go see family if you don’t want to. I’ve found that it doesn’t matter what I’m doing, if I’m around people I enjoy, I’m always having fun.

Learn more about Staycations at Staycations: Vacation without Stress.

Making the Most of Your Staycation

Trying to rein in spending this summer? This year, forgo the pricey vacation and opt for the cheap and cheerful staycation. Staycations can be a surprisingly fun alternative, if you put a little planning and effort into it. Dial down the day-to-day drudgery and schedule in loads of exciting activities – and your holiday will be a resounding success!

Drop the Routine:

  • Treat work the same as you would, when out of the country. Can’t avoid being ‘on call’? Keep it to emergencies. Otherwise it isn’t a proper vacation.
  • Take care of household chores beforehand, or afterwards. A relaxing holiday doesn’t include laundry, cleaning and grocery shopping.
  • Clear the family calendar. Take a break from regularly scheduled obligations, classes and sports. Replace with fun-filled, group activities.
  • Set appropriate expectations within your social circle i.e. you’ll be unreachable for the duration, or responding to urgent issues only.

Switch Off Electronics:

  • Utilize ‘out-of-office’ settings on computers and phones. Others will be less likely to panic when you don’t respond instantly.
  • Turn off the idiot box. PVR your favourite programs and catch up afterwards; Or better yet, prove that you can live without TV for a week or two.
  • Ditch the video games. Leave the virtual world behind and enjoy some real fun for a change.
  • Put the smart phone down! Make a pact to minimize calls (work and personal) and set up a fine system for family members that circumvent the rules. Spend the extra cash on holiday adventures.
  • Avoid surfing the net. If you need to look something up, pop online quickly, then shut down. Email and the internet can be all consuming. Don’t get sucked into the vortex.

Focus on Fun:

  • What activities would you suggest to out-of-towners? Grab a local guidebook and re-discover your city’s top attractions.
  • Add a little drama to your life. Attend a summer blockbuster, a drive-in movie, a live theatre show, or devour a much anticipated book.
  • The sporty type? Take in a major league game, find a pool, water park or recreational area, or map out a personalized hiking or biking tour of the city.
  • Enjoy some cerebral relaxation at local museums, art galleries, historic properties, science centres and zoos. In Toronto, free tickets are available at your library.
  • If you’re near open water, consider a boating excursion. Rent kayaks, take sailing lessons, or book a ferry tour, for a great day on the waves.
  • Gather family and friends for a good old-fashioned picnic or BBQ, at a community park. Bring along refreshments, toys and games to keep everyone occupied and content.
  • Foodies will gobble up the chance to visit new/favourite restaurants and social butterflies are likely to appreciate concerts, pub crawls or clubbing.
  • Schedule a daytrip to explore beyond city limits. Find cheap thrills at the amusement park, savour a regional wine tour, bask at a nearby beach, or nibble your way through your local farmers market.

Staycations aren’t synonymous with deprivation. Break from your regular routine, channel your inner tourist and don’t waste a moment! You’ll return to work refreshed and recharged – and still have money in your pocket. It just might be the best vacation you’ve ever had.

What’s your favourite staycation activity? How you plan to enjoy your hometown, in the summer of 2013?

Chicago Staycation

Living paycheck to paycheck most definitely means vacations are a luxury of the few. Even a flight to the east coast to visit my own family is out of the question this year, as finances need to be controlled. As a mom I feel guilty for not being able to give my son the experience of traveling to diverse destinations or even the Lake Erie Peninsula of my youth. In the city of Chicago itself, even a typical staycation needs the budget pruned.

Flush the guilt away. What matters most is time spent together. Here are some options to higher cost alternatives.

If you can’t afford to go to a Chicago Bulls game attend a local University’s basketball game, i.e. Depaul, University of Chicago, Loyola, etc. My 8 yr old was just as happy, and it was pizza night at the game, so we saved money on concessions with a slice of free pizza.

Can’t afford the Mexican Resort?- Take your kids to Pilsen the Mexican neighborhood right off the 18th st. pink line train stop. Your kids will be able to experience authentic Mexican culture in America rather than a sterile cruise and resort where everyone speaks English. Get educated at The National Museum of Mexican Art located at 1859 W. 19th St. Visit a Panaderia(Mexican bakery). Let your kids pick a yummy pastry. Don’t forget to pick one out for yourself too!

The week after, visit Chinatown! When the weather is warmer take the kids to Ping Tom Park. The possibilities of touring the world within Chicago are endless.

Resort activities- How about taking your kids and doing Zumba together? This works better for children 7 and older. I took my son to a Zumba class with the permission of the teacher. Set the example for your kids that movement is wonderful.

How about family karaoke? A great place to do karaoke with the family over dinner is at Hiromi’s located on 3609 W. Lawrence. It’s a quaint family run Filipino/Japanese karaoke restaurant. No stage needed. You can sit right at the table and sing your heart out with the kids.

Tour boats in Chicago can be expensive. Have you ever thought of Chicago’s Water Taxi? An All day pass is $10.00 for the weekend. You can get on and off at various points in downtown Chicago as well as Ping Tom Park in Chinatown.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the wonderful museums. A favorite museum of both tourists and Chicagoans alike is the Museum of Science and Industry. A highlyinteractive museum that will keep the kids busy for hours.

You can build memories that last a lifetime without an expensive vacation. Enjoy the city and most importantly, the time spent with your family.