Kathy is a freelance writer from Canada who is always on the lookout for fun things to do with her family.
Staycations Don't Need to be Boring
As much as most of us would love to go on exciting trips to exotic locales on our vacation, the reality is this is often not possible. Sometimes we are forced to spend our vacations at home.
Staycations have become increasingly popular over the last decade, as many families have had less disposable income available for travel. The rising cost of living, combined with increased gas prices and a tough job market have resulted in more people staying close to home on their vacations.
Is your next vacation likely to be a staycation? Whether it's because finances are tight, or family and work commitments are keeping you from travelling, it's important to remember that your stay-at-home vacation does not need to be boring. With a bit of creative thinking and planning, you can make your next staycation one to remember!
Read on for ten suggestions for planning your next staycation adventure.
1. Learn something new
A staycation can be a terrific opportunity to learn a new skill or try something you've always wanted to know how to do.
You can sign up for a course or workshop to learn a new hobby, sport or craft, or to improve your skills in an existing one. If money is an issue, perhaps you can find a friend to give you a few lessons in their favourite sport or hobby in exchange for a home-cooked meal or detailing their car (or whatever you think is a fair trade!)
Here's a few suggestions:
- Sports - kayaking, martial arts, scuba diving
- Art - painting, sculpting, drawing
- Crafts - pottery, jewelry making, wood carving, glass blowing
- Cooking - regional cuisine, cake decorating
2. Spend a night away at a local hotel
If you can afford it, book a night or two at a hotel or bed and breakfast in your own city or one a short drive away. You can often find last minute deals and mid-week stays at greatly reduced prices, so it may be more affordable than you think.
Enjoy the hotel amenities, swim in the pool, order room service, watch in-room movies, walk around the city, and perhaps do a bit of shopping.
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3. Participate in a house swap
Maybe you can't afford to stay at a hotel or villa on your next vacation, but that's no reason you have to be stuck at home. For an inexpensive, or even free, change of scenery you could look into the possibility of a house swap with someone you know.
If you live in the city, maybe you have friends in the country who would be interested in trading homes with you for a weekend or even a week. They could try out some new restaurants and do some shopping, while you could enjoy the fresh country air. Of course, this idea also works if you're the one who lives in the country and have friends with a home or condo in the city.
Friends or relatives with homes in interesting places such as near the beach, in the mountains, on a farm or in different towns with new restaurants, shops and attractions to explore are all potential house swappers to consider.
4. Be a patron of the arts
If you like art, how about spending your week immersed in the art world in your community or a nearby city? You can:
- Explore a museum
- See a play
- Stroll through an art gallery
- Go to a ballet or opera
- Visit some local artists' studios
- Attend a music festival
- Experience a symphony performance
- Check out a photography exhibit
- Enjoy a local band
5. Enjoy a variety of outdoor activities
To make the most of your staycation, be sure to get outdoors. Try to plan outdoor activities for most days of your staycation, even if it's just for an hour or two. For a real staycation adventure, why not try to see how many different outdoor sports or activities you can do in one week?
Here are some fun ideas:
- canoeing or kayaking
- white water rafting
- mountain biking
- rock climbing
If you're lucky enough to have snow during your staycation, you can enjoy:
- Snow tubing
- Ice skating
- Ice fishing
- Skiing (downhill or cross country)
Camping can be a fun activity for the whole family. Book a spot at a local campground for a few nights, and create some lasting memories. Don't forget to bring some marshmallows to roast while sitting around the campfire.
If the idea of roughing it doesn't really appeal to you, you can try backyard camping, where you're close to any amenities you might need. This one is always a hit with the kids!
Volunteering for a local charity can be a very fulfilling experience, but many people have difficulty making the time for volunteer work in their usually busy lives. Consider making some volunteer work a part of your next staycation. With a bit of research you should easily be able to find a cause or project that interests you.
Some possibilities are:
- food bank
- animal shelter
- nursing home
- community project
- children's hospital
- local charity fundraising event
More volunteer ideas:
8. Team up with other families
If your vacation time is during the summer or Spring Break, you probably know other parents who are also looking for things to do with their kids. Why not pool your resources and efforts and join together with a few other families to plan several days of activities?
Assign everyone a day for which they will plan activities for the group, and then take turns hosting everyone and their kids.
Possible activities could be:
- Picnic and outdoor games
- Pool party
- Hiking adventure
- Sports day
- Theme days
- Barbecue and scavenger hunt
Use your imagination!
9. Bicycle tour
Do you have a bike? If not, can you borrow one for your staycation?
Biking can be a great activity for your staycation. Whether you choose road cycling or mountain biking, it's a wonderful way to keep active and explore new areas.
Check with your local cycling club or mountain bike organization for information on cycling routes or trails and plan your adventure.
Be sure to get your bike tuned up first, bring a cell phone and a spare tube and know how to change it, and always let someone know where you're planning to go.
10. Participate in an adventure race or sporting event
Finally, if you're really looking to kick up the adventure a notch on your next vacation, why not register for an Adventure race or other sporting event that will challenge your limits?
There are hundreds of different events to choose from, and you may find one taking place in your area that will coincide with your time off. Adventure races typically consist of teams of friends completing a course in the wilderness. They often involve mountain biking, canoeing or kayaking, running or hiking and can last from a few hours to several days. Do an internet search for "adventure races" to find out about events taking place in your area.
Depending on your interests and athletic ability, you might also consider:
- a marathon or half marathon
- a mud run or obstacle course such as the Warrior Dash or Spartan Race
- a city scavenger hunt (think along the lines of the Amazing Race, but on a smaller scale)
- a triathalon
- a mountain bike or cycling race
Where to find staycation ideas in your area
Hopefully this article has inspired you to plan a few adventures of your own for your next staycation. For more ideas:
- Visit your local tourism office or chamber of commerce
- Check with local colleges for workshops or courses that interest you
- Review the websites of local towns and cities for festivals, attractions and activities taking place during your vacation
© 2012 Kathy Sima