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.

Staycation Guide: 5 Places In The UK That Will Make You Feel You Are Abroad

Staycations are again on the rise more, and more Brits are deciding to stay home for their holidays. But where in the UK should you go if you have never had a staycation before or fancy trying something new? Here is my staycation guide is here to help.

The UK is a dynamic place full of history, natural beauty, dramatic coastlines and historical cities. Every corner has such an individual identity that no two places are alike. Some UK destinations might even give you a little taste of Europe! Here is how:

Love The Algarve? Try Devon

Branded “the English Riviera”, Devon is fantastic for families and beach holidays. It is also home to five areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, UNESCO Sites and Natural Parks.

For a cultural city break, try Plymouth or Exeter, both rich in Roman history. It it’s the relaxed coastal life you want, try South Devon. For surfing, go for North Devon and Exmoor. And for the true Riviera experience, try Torquay, Paignton, and Brixham. There are also many smaller towns and villages worth exploring if you fancy going for a drive.

Love Tuscany? Try Lancashire, Yorkshire And Cumbria

North West England and the region of Tuscany in Italy share two things in common: beautiful green panoramic views and maxing food.

Famous for its artisan food, locally sourced produce and niche eateries, the counties of Lancashire, Yorkshire and Cumbria, will entice any foodie traveler with their food festivals and farm shops galore. To work up an appetite, you can visit the castles, museums, theatres or seafront towns or you can go hiking and take in scenery so beautiful that Queen Elizabeth is reported to have said she would like to retire here.

For more active travelers, highlights are the Yorkshire Dales, the Pennines and the Lake District, where you can try all sorts of sports from golfing to sailing and paragliding. For those wanting a peaceful hideaway, try smaller market towns such as Kirby Lansdale, Hebden Bridge or Clitheroe. And if it’s a sea you seek, try Whitby, Scarborough or Lytham St Annes.

Love Switzerland? Try Scotland

If you a partial to mountain ranges, lakes and a pair of skis, then Scotland is the perfect staycation for you. With beautiful scenery, imposing castles and interesting cities thrown in for good measure, both Switzerland and Scotland will give you jaw-dropping views. Switzerland has some of the most famous ski resorts in the world, Scotland has the best ski resorts in the UK. The Swiss have the alphorn and Schnapps; the Scots have the bagpipe and their world-famous Scotch whisky. Hell, the Scottish accent might even make you feel you’re abroad!

Jokes aside, Scotland is indeed a beautiful country, with intriguing and grand history, beautiful landscape and stunning natural reserves. Even Her Majesty has a residence here, Balmoral Castle. For a city break, both Glasgow and Edinburgh are famous for their nightlife and culture. And if you like to drive, we would highly recommend the drive from Glasgow to Dundee. The views are to die for.

Love Rome? Try York

The Italian city of Rome is one of the most famous destinations in Europe, known worldwide for its rich history and vibrant culture. In the UK we have our little version thanks to the Romans themselves.

Although York existed as a settlement before the Roman invasion, it was during that period that it was declared a city of importance. Constantine the Great was proclaimed a Roman Emperor here. Even going out for a pint will yield a history lesson in pubs that used to be churches or monasteries. In recent years, York has become famous for its retail and nightlife as well as its history, and although it’s much smaller than Rome, you will have plenty to do and see.

Love Berlin? Try Liverpool

Berlin and Liverpool share many commonalities. Both have witnessed their fair share of political and social change, but are today UNESCO Heritage Sites and European Capitals of Culture.

In the UK, Liverpool is the city with the most galleries and national museums outside of London. The birthplace of the Beatles, it also boasts a very strong art scene. On a more outrageous note, it has been said that the Liverpudlian velvet tracksuit is as infamous as the German beach thong! Liverpool is a vibrant and dynamic city, ideal for any art, fashion or music lover.

Hotel Staycation

There are vacations where you temporarily visit another city, state or country and take in all these new places have to offer and then there are staycations where you stay in your own city and act like a tourist. Both are great ideas for something fun to do, and both have their advantages and disadvantages but if you choose a staycation for this year’s holiday, what about still going to a hotel?

Usually staycations mean you use your house as your home base and you take trips out daily to things in and around your city. It may be that museum you have always wanted to go to but never got around to it, it could be a new water park that just opened, it could be a trip to a nearby park to do things like canoeing that you always wanted to try. At the end of the day, you go home to sleep and do something fun the next day till the staycation is over. What if, instead of going home you checked into a hotel, right in your own city? It’s like a vacation and a staycation all in one and while it may be more expensive than just going home, it adds some excitement to your holiday.

Staying in a hotel is always fun. There are different beds, different layouts, things like the pool and gym to check out, and they usually have a bar or restaurant attached for easy snacks, meals and unwinding times too. Staying in a hotel offers you something different from the same old routine. It gets you up and out in the morning and offers you a warm and comforting atmosphere when you return. You don’t have to make the beds or pick up the towels and yet you come back to a perfect room at day’s end.

Hotels these days have WiFi and other amenities to make it just like home while having a little adventure and you don’t have to stay long, just a night or two will up the fun factor of a staycation and give you different memories that you can share. They also always have plenty of information about nearby places and events that you may have missed. So play tourist in your own town, it’s fun and you’ll learn a lot about where you live, and while it’s always nice to go home again, check into a hotel, if only for a night. You’ll be glad you did!

A Guide to Choosing a Suitable Travel Cot For Your ‘Staycation’

With the UK continuing to gradually move out of recessionary times, many parents will be starting to estimate whether they will have the money to spend on travel during their summer holidays. Going abroad with a young child on a budget can often be considerably more strenuous than travelling on your own in the same situation, so for many young families booking a ‘staycation’ in and around England, Scotland or Wales may be the most logical plan for the summer months.

For any family planning on traveling with their baby, a travel cot is a very sensible investment. Yet, for those staying in the UK for summer, they can be more than worthwhile especially if you plan on being away from home for longer than you might have been if you had gone abroad. So where does one start when it comes to choosing the right travel cot?

Although travel cots vary significantly in price, their basic design often consists of the same key attributes, including: lightweight frame, carry bag and soft side panels often made from mesh.

However, despite the key benefit of purchasing a travel cot being that it is easy to carry around, the actual weight of some models can vary quite significantly with mid-range models weighing in at around the 13-15kg mark, and those that are as light as 8kg being available at a slightly higher cost.

Weight may not be the only thing to consider when browsing available travel cots. Although cheaper models are satisfyingly practical and simple, those that cost upwards of £70 typically boast a number of extras that might tempt the travelling parent. Many can act as both a play pen and travel cot, while others include a cot top changer, saving you the need to take a changing mat with you.

Yet to truly travel in style, and to increase the chances that you’ll be able to get a peaceful night’s sleep yourself – an increasing number are hitting the market with in-built night-lights and music-playing mobiles to lull your baby asleep, and to ensure that ‘staycation’ was really worth the money.