If lack of time and money are putting a cramp in your vacation plans, consider saving on both by taking a staycation and playing tourist in your hometown. You might think you know everything there is to know about your neck of the woods, but Texas Traveling Mom Jill gives us the scoop on her weekend spent exploring her hometown and shows us how we can find new roads where we least expect them.
As much as I love to travel with my kids, sometimes a family vacation isn’t practical. Sometimes, cost puts a damper on our wanderlust. Airfare for four people, gas, hotel stays, etc., add up and if you’re a family on a budget like us, odds are you can’t take a vacation any ole time you want to. Time isn’t always our friend when it comes to planning family travel and vacations. Getting time off work and trying to de-conflict our kids’ busy schedules are the main roadblocks (after money, of course!) to travel. Enter the staycation. Have you ever considered planning a trip where you don’t have to really go anywhere? I did spent a weekend exploring my hometown of San Antonio, Texas just like a tourist and I’m sharing my TMOM approved staycation tips with you!
1. Get a room
Stay in a hotel, even if it’s only a short distance from your home. If you’re a suburbanite, choose a hotel in your city’s downtown or metro area. We live far outside the city limits and a weekend in downtown San Antonio was a super treat.
We stayed at the lovely Hotel Valencia on San Antonio’s Riverwalk, which sure didn’t feel like we were only 20 (or so) miles from our house! If you live in the heart of the city, select a hotel or B&B on the outskirts of town. A vacation (or staycation!) should get you exposed to some different scenery and vibes, even if you’re not very far from home.
2. Pack like you’re really going somewhere
Pack your overnight or weekend bag like you’re not going to be able to run back to your house to retrieve a forgotten item. Because you’re not going to do that!
We fit everything we’d need for a weekend into the 2018 Chevrolet Traverse. The roomy traverse has third row seating that folds down and offers plenty of space for all of our stuff. In addition to being a sweet-looking, roomy family vehicle, the Traverse is rocking the latest in Chevrolet technology. The Chevrolet app (available for download in the iTunes store or the Google Play store) allows you to remotely unlock and start your vehicle from your phone which makes loading and unloading your vehicle go more smoothly.
3. Do the things that are “too touristy”
We all have those things in our city or town that are strictly for the tourists, right? When I mention I’m from the San Antonio area, most people say “Oh, I love the Riverwalk!” The Riverwalk is indeed an awesome place to check out, but we almost never go down there.
There are a ton of amazing restaurants, shops and photo opportunities along San Antonio’s beautiful Riverwalk. Yes, most of the time this area is filled with tourists or conventioneers, but that doesn’t make it any less fun. The fact that we don’t visit these “extra touristy” places in our hometown makes it all the more special when we do.
4. Immerse yourself in your city’s history
You probably take your history and culture for granted. I know we do. What do you think of when someone says “San Antonio”? Perhaps it’s “Remember the Alamo” and that’s true…the Alamo is definitely a city landmark. In fact, we are known as “The Alamo City.”
We decided to do a quick trip to Alamo plaza, thinking our kids would be bored and we’d move on to something else. Wrong! We spent almost three hours at the Alamo learning about our city’s history and talking to the living history docents. Tons of learning and fun was had by all. And, honestly? We could have stayed another hour and not have been bored.
5. Unplug and Deconflict
If you are staycationing or vacationing in your hometown, unplug and clear your calendar like you’re really on vacation. Because you really are!
Our boys had a soccer game on the Saturday morning of our Friday through Sunday trip. We discussed getting up early and fighting the traffic from downtown out to the far burbs and back so our kids could make their game and ultimately, we decided against it. Sleeping late and having lunch at one of the most historic restaurants on San Antonio’s Riverwalk won out. We didn’t totally unplug but we applied the “we’re out of town” to how we chose to respond to emails and texts and how we handled screen time for our kids. If we’re traveling, we typically let our friends, family, and coworkers know that we’re going to be a little off the grid.
Even though we didn’t really travel very far, we still maintained the integrity of our vacation by treating it like the vacation it was. It’s not that hard to do. Set boundaries and then have a blast.
6. Day trips as side trips
We combined our hometown staycation with a side trip to Fredericksburg, Texas. Fredericksburg is just a little over an hour away, so we swung over to see a few sites.
If you visit Fredericksburg in the spring or summer, you need to check out Wildseed farms. The spring wildflowers are stunning. There’s also shopping, dining and wine tasting. There is so much to see and do in Fredericksburg with kids or without kids. Do you have a “just outside the city limits” destination near your home town? Have you visited recently?
7. Take lots of pictures
Find the most “instagrammable” spots in your hometown and have fun taking pictures. After all, you’re doing research for future visitors, right? For more on taking the most perfect Instagram snaps, read this.
You don’t have to go far to have a great time. If time and budget are causing you to cross a family vacation off of your list then consider a staycation close to home.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE NEW CHEVROLET TRAVERSE
- The latest in smart technology: The 2018 Traverse (and Chevy’s entire line of SUVs) has the latest in smart technology. The Chevrolet My Link Display worked with my Apple Car Play (there’s an Android option as well) to make our vehicle a hotspot. We had access to our music and saved maps and the technology even allowed us to receive and respond to text messages safely…thanks, Siri! The myChevrolet Mobile App allows you to start your engine or unlock the doors with your smartphone. How cool is that?
- Back Seat: The Traverse has three rows of roomy seating. The third row folds down to allow you to load up more gear of treasures you find along your journey.
- Safety Package: The Chevrolet Traverse also has hidden compartments, a hands-free liftgate, and safety features galore, such as forward collision alert, lane keep assist, front pedestrian braking and more. My favorite safety feature is Rear Seat Reminder, which activates when a second-row door is opened and closed just before you drive. You’ll get a reminder to check the backseat at the end of the trip. It’s hot in Texas most of the year and leaving kids in a car for any length of time is dangerous. I love that Chevrolet has this feature for parents.
- Hidden Storage: The 2018 Traverse has a hidden storage compartment behind the eight-inch touch screen. With the touch of a button, the screen slides up and gives you space to securely store your valuables.
- Price: Standard vehicle price is $31,000 with options and available add-on’s taking the price up another $10,000.
- The 2018 Chevrolet Traverse is a great road trip vehicle. We drove this roomy mid-size SUV from San Antonio to Austin to Fredericksburg and then back through the beautiful Texas hill country to San Antonio. The Traverse is roomy (seats up to eight) and luxuriously comfortable.