Staycation: better than a vacation?

It wasn’t long ago that I scoffed at the idea of a staycation. I absolutely love traveling and could not imagine what someone might be getting out of a staycation beyond stagnation.

Then I went on a few vacations with my kids. Where they fun? Sure. Was it great to share new experiences with my wee ones? Absolutely. Was it an escape from the everyday? Hmm… sort of – we weren’t at home while we did the naps, diaper changes, and time outs. Was it relaxing? No. Not in the least!

While I still long for escaping to a new place to see new sights, taste new flavors, meet new people, and listen to the unfamiliar soundtrack of somewhere I have never been, I also sometimes really want to simply relax.

Last year, in June, we realized that we had waited too late to fit in an affordable getaway and it would be September or October until we could really consider going somewhere (our kids are still small, so it’s a great time for us to go on vacation). But we both were feeling a need for a break in a pretty intense way.

As we debated paying the higher price to go away mid-summer or taking a shorter vacation (a long weekend) to offset the higher charges, we could not help discussing how, logistically, it would work and how, realistically, we would not really encounter much, if any, relaxing with the trips we considered with the kids. At one point, we considered some of those resorts with childcare options (wow, they are expensive!) and we realized we would be paying for daycare back home (our dacycare does not reduce costs for vacation weeks) and also we’d be paying for childcare at our pricey resort (which we weren’t sure we would be too comfortable with anyway). Yikes!

That’s when the idea of the staycation started to sound really appealing. Our list of desires:

1. relaxation.

Yeah, that was pretty much it. The need for cultural stimulation and so on was pretty much gone. We were exhausted with our son, then 1.5 years old, who was not a very good sleeper (he did not sleep through the night until after his 2nd birthday and preferred several wakeful moments each night to restful sleep). We also live nowhere near family (mine is a good 450 mile ride north and my in-laws are overseas), so there are pretty much no opportunities to send the kiddos to have some grandparents time.

The staycation would allow us to take advantage of the time our kids were at daycare to do things we don’t get to do when we have our kids along for the ride (not to mention making use of the money we were already spending for their time at daycare). My husband wasn’t convinced of the idea, concerned it wouldn’t feel like a break, but he agreed to try it and booked a week off in late June.

We both thoroughly enjoyed the staycation. We did things like see a movie (matinee) and eat at restaurants where we would never take our kids. We went shopping at a leisurely pace (I tried stuff on in the fitting rooms!). We went to the community pool and lounged, reading magazines and floating decadently for long stretches of time. We went bowling. Each evening we got to hang out with our kids, which we enjoyed so much because we were incredibly more relaxed than we’d been in ages. It was fabulous!

And so, this year we will be repeating our staycation… starting tomorrow! I’m very excited. We are only doing a three-day staycation (due to schedules and so on). We haven’t pre-planned everything we hope to do in the three days, but a movie and some chilled-out pool time are on the list.

Have you tried a staycation? If you have kids, what do you do to find that elusive relaxation time? Have you managed to find the holy grail of parental vacations: relaxation with the kids (tell me how/where – please!)?

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