We all work hard-hence, we want to play hard. My vacation dreams take me to the rocky coast of Ireland, the white sand beaches of the Polynesian Islands or the mighty peaks of an Alaskan mountain range. Then reality slaps me right up side the head. The same thing has probably happened to you.
The first problem is money, or lack of to frolic your week away in Barbados. Sometimes the problem is time. Not enough time off from work or school, or like with my family, our vacation times never lined up. My kids have spent holidays and vacations with my parents or my sister because I couldn’t get one lousy day off while they were on break. For our anniversary one year, my husband and I weren’t even in the same state-he traveled a lot then. A real bummer. But, one snowy February weekend when my kids had and 4 day weekend I took 2 extra days off and booked us a nice hotel in Seattle. It had an indoor pool, cool touch games built into the coffee tables. The boys had room service and we were 1 block away from a giant arcade. They got extra desserts and in room movies. It was only two days and it was about 30 degrees and snowed, but they had a great time.
So, how can you make the best of your “staycation”? Planning and optimism. And some key elements.
Have your house in order: First of all, you can’t relax if your house is a mess, so have everything clean. Next, pick a theme and decorate. Don’t spend a lot. Go to the dollar store, pick up colorful vases, fun flowers, gold serving plates. String a lei, get some tiki torches and beach chairs for the backyard. If you want to spend a little more you could even buy framed pictures of mountains or beaches or wineries, whatever you are in the mood for. A cheaper alternative it to take an old calendar and put them is some frames. It’s a good way to temporarily decorate a space to match your mood. To avoid to many dishes, have paper and plastic for the duration. I like the beach, so I make a centerpiece out of seashells in a glass bowl and find recipes on line for tropical drinks. Which leads me to my next tip.
Have a menu: The best thing about vacation is NOT cooking! So, get some quick and easy recipes for your theme. I can make frozen coconut pie in 5 minutes, freeze it and done! Anything you can make ahead and will keep, do that. Fresh made breads and fresh squeezed juices are great, but try new things. I had Baked Alaska on my first cruise and I loved it! Not the easiest to make so I always practice the recipe first; They don’t always turn out. Splurge on your favorite treats from your local bakery-you know they’re good and no hassle for you.
Here are few of my favorite links for tropical drinks and quick desserts.
Make it fun: Let your kids make your whole living room a fort and let them sleep there-or set up tents in the back yard. I love this one! Roast marshmallows, name the constellations; no t.v., no phones or i-pads. Makes for great family time. Or throw a big party! A backyard BBQ is always a hit-make it fit with your theme. Have everyone learn a hula, or bring wines from Tuscany or chocolates from Denmark. Have a trivia contest about your region-door prizes for winners.
Go on excursions: Search your local area for free festivals or events or museums. If you can swing it spring for a professional sporting event or a theme park. Great Wolf Lodge is a perfect example. There is one past Olympia, so close; very expensive-bring your own food or drive a short distance into town to eat out. I can not stress this enough! The indoor park it totally worth the price of the room; it is so much for families and I felt like a kid again. The Pacific Science Center is also great. So is the International Fountain-that is free and there is a free playground right by the Mo Pop Museum. What is it you like to do? Start with that then figure out what you want to spend money on and what you can do for free. Check local papers and online sites for free festivals and things in your area.
Do treat yourself: Get dressed up and go out for a fancy meal. Order dessert and an appetizer! Go to movie and buy popcorn and a drink, go to a wine tasting event or a play! Maybe get a massage. Check on Groupon for these things. We got a great deal on a wine and chocolate pairing event. Stay in your pajamas at least one of the days! No phone, no computer, just chill out with your companion or family all day! No responsibilities.
Plan your next vacation: This year is my 25th wedding anniversary, we will be able to go Red Robin this year. I know, it’s tragic. But, there is always next year! I have a load of travel magazines and have list of my top 3 spots to visit. So, I have a destination board so I can visualize it. So break out your calendar and keep some things in mind. 1) The time of year. Europe is great, but not in the summer. Hawaii is awesome and outrageously expensive in the winter months. So keep the climate and expense in mind. If you can book in off season, do it. 2) What do you love most about these places? Prioritize what you want to see most when you visit somewhere. Is it the food, the culture, the sights? 3)Know your budget. Have a plan for how much it will cost and set goals for how you will save that money. Less coffee? Less shoe shopping? Maybe less dry cleaning? Keep a ledger of how much you save each month. 4)Keep your eye out for price drops and last minute deals. This can be time consuming but worth it. Some places will let you sign up for price alerts.
Sleep! You know you need more of it. Stay in pj’s , watch movies, clean up your email. Nap, often. It is good for you and you know you want to.
A staycation can be a good thing. No packing, no costly airline tickets, no worrying about trip insurance or lost documents. It can be relaxing and exciting! It’s a great time to pamper your pets! One time we drove our dog around to different parks for 6 hours. So, time away can be whatever you make it, you just have to make it what you want.