By Jen McDonald
Maybe you recently PCSed, and the idea of bundling your family into a vehicle again gives you hives. Or maybe it’s not your family’s turn for a PCS this summer, but your budget doesn’t allow for too much travel, your spouse is deployed, or you simply would rather explore more of the area where you’re stationed.
Whatever the reason, if your version of a family summer vacation this year means staying put at home, a “staycation,” then make the most of a relaxing week or two while preventing your kids from defaulting into the, “Mom, I’m bored!” mode!
5 Tips for Your Best Staycation Ever
1) Set some ground rules.
If your goal is to actually rest and enjoy some down time, then this probably isn’t the time to tackle home improvement or huge housekeeping projects. (Unless that’s what relaxes you. In which case, we’d all like your number because we have a few projects to send your way!)
Some other things to think about: Will your time be family only, or are friends allowed over? Electronics or no? And what about the distribution of chores? If everyone is going to be in vacation mode, that means everyone should shoulder some of the meal prep and clean up so it doesn’t all fall on one person.
2) Think tourist.
Time to hop on Yelp! and read reviews of all those spots you’ve meant to hit and haven’t gotten around to yet. Gather the kids and make a list of what everyone would like to see and then prioritize. As military families, it’s common that when we’ve lived somewhere for a while, we tend to avoid the tourist traps. Now’s your time to enjoy! For instance, here in San Antonio, I’ve met several people who’ve never visited the Alamo. What’s the big landmark in your area? Go play tourist for a day!
3) Use military discounts.
Check in with your installation’s MWR and ITT (Information, Tickets, and Tours) offices for outing ideas and area discounts. You can frequently find bundled packages with lower pricing. Locally, you may be entitled to military discounts at parks, museums, and other attractions. Blue Star Museums, Waves of Honor, and more offer military discounts. Find other ideas in the post, “6 Fantastic Freebies for Military Family Travel.”
4) Do something simple.
Of course, if you’ve decided to stay home this summer, you may not be wanting to undertake any elaborate outings. Keep it simple and invite the kids to enjoy activities like a matinee, running through the sprinkler, spending the day at the base pool, or heading to the beach if there’s one nearby.
Sometimes, permission to do something they’re not normally allowed, like sleeping in a blanket tent in the living room or eating ice cream sundaes for dinner, is enough for them to feel it’s a “special” time. Guarantee they will remember it for years to come!
5) Join forces.
If your spouse is deployed or away for duty and you’re in the throes of solo parenting, combine efforts with other deployed moms and dads and switch off watching kids. Choose a weekend or days when you’re all free and rotate kids between houses so you each get a break.
While it may not be touring Paris or tooling through a national monument (unless you live near one, of course), staycations can be even more relaxing since you aren’t dealing with the hectic airport runs, other travelers, packing up luggage for everyone in the family, or checking in and out of hotels. The key is to set things up so you’re actually in vacation mode.
So put your feet up, queue your Netflix binge, grab your favorite beverage, and let the staycation begin!