istock_000002133759xsmallPacking up for a vacation with your family can be a daunting thing. Planning for all the possibilities can be stressful enough to require a follow up trip: What if someone gets sick? Where will we eat? How will we keep the kids entertained? What if we have to bail? What if we forget the baby’s favorite stuffed animal?

All of the above and more are why I would like to advocate taking local vacations this summer. Local vacations give us the opportunity to see our surrounding with new eyes. Tourist eyes. It’s all too easy to drive on past a fruit stand, ignore a fabulous flea market or forget about the big local hotel’s posh hotel’s Sunday Brunch. Those things are for tourists right?

Being a tourist in your own town is a liberating experience. It’s a great way to save money too. For every night you stay at home, every plane ticket and tank of gas you don’t spring for, you free up funds to do the sort of things that you’d never spring for on a daily basis. Without the stress of distant travel. For families with small kids, this can be a dream come true!

Some pointers for Daycation/Staycation planning:

  • Contact your local tourism boards and ask for information about local attractions and discounts
  • Consider local businesses as points of interest – farm and factory tours can be fun plus educational.
  • Try a new sport: fishing, dirt biking, surfing – odds are there are lessons for it in a town near you
  • Invest in a GPS unit and Check out Geocaching.org for treasure hunts in your area.
  • Mark local festivals and outdoor theater/movie events on your calendar.
  • Plan a camping trip in your own backyard
  • Order Takeout food to stock a picnic basket
  • Make appointments for relaxing services such as a manicure, pedicure or massage
  • Line up a sitter and indulge in some quality couples time, a movie marathon, or time to shop sans kids

Plan out your staycation like any other vacation. No cheating and popping into the office to do a little work. Create and itinerary and then stick to it, no matter how tempting it is to do some laundry, take a work call or use the extra time to clean out the garage. Tell friends and family you are on vacation. If you can stand it, forward your calls to voicemail and stop the mail. With a little bit of creativity, advance planning, and a commitment to making your time off a true break, your Staycation could be the most relaxing vacation your family takes all year.