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Ideas for Fun Family Stay-cations

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I nearly passed out the other day when I filled up my car’s gas tank.  Sure, we all know gas prices have gone up, but this is ridiculous.  I mean, come on – $70 for gas that won’t even last my SUV a full week?  I cringed as I pulled my receipt from the pump and muttered some colorful words under my breath. 

Daddy and I had discussed the plans for our summer vacation this year and quickly realized just how much money it was going to cost us to go on our usual road trip, something I usually looked forward to all year.  This summer, I couldn’t help but dread the credit card bill that would inevitably show up in my mailbox from the countless gallons of gas our car was surely going to burn through.  After much debate and some groans of protest from Big Bud, we made the decision to scrap our usual week long trip in favor of a stay-cation.

Once I thought about it, this stay-cation thing wasn’t such a bad idea after all.  Being the control freak that I am, I always tend to over plan the trip, trying to pack in as much fun and sightseeing as possible.  I love a great family vacation, but we’re always so worn out afterwards that we need another vacation to recover from the first vacation!

It’s always such a big deal trying to keeps The Buds occupied on those long car trips too.  I will hear “I’m Bored” at least 38 times before we’ve reached our destination, and someone is always either hungry or needing to use the bathroom.

Instead of planning a super expensive, overly busy vacation this summer, try opting for a fun stay-cation instead.  Check out this list of ideas to help you plan a great stay at home vacation that both you and your kids will love.


Stay-cation Idea #1; The Backyard Camp Out

The thought roughing it is not my idea of a relaxing time.  Instead of driving to some far off campsite with shower houses and no electricity, plan a backyard campout.  For some reason, kids absolutely love sleeping in a tent.  Build yourself a campfire to roast your hotdogs and s’mores, and throw in a few campfire songs for good measure.  Make sure to grab your flashlights for scary-story time once the stars come out.  Your kids will have a great time, and you’ll love being so close to civilization. 


Stay-cation Idea #2; Day Trips

You don’t actually have to stay at your house for a stay-cation.  Take some time to search out any local amusement parks, museums, ballparks or aquariums your city has to offer.  You might be surprised just how much quality time you can get with your kids in a single day.  Make a week of it and plan on a different fun destination each day.  For older kids, have them help you make a list of the places they want to visit.  Kids get excited when they are included in the planning.


Stay-cation Idea #3; Behind the Scenes Tour

Call up your local fire or police station to see if you can arrange a behind the scenes tour.  Contact a local movie theater to see if they will allow your kids to view their projection room.  We did this and I can’t tell you how fascinated Big Bud was.  Oftentimes, your local news station will also allow you a first hand view of their studio.        


Stay-cation Idea #4; The Family Picnic

Kids love picnics.  There’s just something cool about sitting on a blanket eating food that comes out of a basket.  Why not make an entire day of it?  Visit your local park for a picnic and take along a frisbee or soccer ball.  Take a walk along the nature trail and have your little one go on a scavenger hunt for different plants or animals.  Offer a prize to the child who can spot the most.  


Stay-cation Idea #5; Family Movie Night

If you have a drive-in nearby, make plans to go!  Many outdoor theaters offer family night where they showcase a line-up of kid friendly flicks.  For extra savings, call ahead to see if your drive-in offers one price per carload night instead of having to pay for each individual admission.  If you aren’t near a drive-in, have a movie marathon at home.  Rent several of your kids’ favorite movie classics and stock up on plenty of healthy snacks.     


Nomatter what kind of stay-cation you and your family plan, make sure to spend plenty of quality time with your little ones.  Capture your good times with plenty of pictures, just like you would on any normal trip.  After all, it’s not about where you go, but the time you spend with family that really makes a vacation special.

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Sunday 17th of July 2011

Great ideas! My family usually did a week of day trips when I was a kid. It's great because now I have a never-ending list of things we can do with people who come to visit. I could be a tour guide for my area. :)

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