We know it’s a trend when every women’s magazine has an article on it. The current fashion in taking holidays is therefore the ‘staycation’. I am not entirely sure what this means, and whether there’s even a consensus, but reading between the lines, it seems as though it can be one of two things. Firstly, it can mean staying in the UK rather than travelling overseas, in order to avoid unnecessary expense or travel hassle, or similar. It is not always an economical option, despite what you might expect, as often it can be just as expensive for a family to stay in an undistinguished B and B in a remote part of Dorset as travelling to somewhere more exotic, particularly if you are clued up enough to swap homes with someone overseas. The other meaning of the word is to stay at home and go on little trips, seeing and doing a lot of things that you might not have time to engage in normally. That is the approach this post is going to take. (After reading it, you might also want to look in the Polls category to vote on what your holiday plans might be this year. Look in the column on the right of the screen to find it).
Designing a successful staycation based at home probably takes as much work as planning and booking a foreign holiday, if not more. The key is to think constantly about what you can do that is actually different, in order to make it feel like a holiday, and offer some relaxation. Consider some of the following.
- Actually swap bedrooms. The children can move around into each others’ rooms, or even share rooms a la sleepover for a change, with sleeping bags if necessary . If you are lucky enough to have extra space, parents can even sleep in their own guest room, which might even have been prepared specially for the occasion hotel-style. This might involve a bit of decorating or tidying up, fresh flowers, supplies of glossy magazines and upmarket beauty products in sample sized bottles, and a drinks/snacks tray. Failing the presence of a guest room, try upgrading your normal bedroom in the same way.
- Change meal times and typical patterns, and consider having a late brunch every day, afternoon cream teas, and so on.
- Fill the freezer with ice lollies, preferably home made.
- Try themed meal nights chosen by family vote – Mexican, BBQ, Italian, etc. Or you could rent DVDs from your local library and have film nights with microwave popcorn, hot dogs, and that ideally rare but necessary treat, an occasional can of Coke.
- Make maximum use of your nearest leisure centre or gym/hotel with swimming pool and day guest facilities. They often go very quiet in August and it might be possible to buy a three day or weekly pass relatively cheaply and go there on a daily basis.
- Try a family treasure hunt with a pretty decent prize of some kind. Put clues all around the house and garden so that the children will have to make a bit of effort working out the answers.
- Take the children on mystery tours of the local area, imagining what you might show a visitor from overseas if they materialised on your doorstep. Children are capable of great feats of sightseeing endurance if they get a couple of quid to spend in the gift shop at the end and a scone in the cafe, and even though there can be moaning at the time, it’s amazing how much they take in. However they are cunning and won’t let you know this until years later.
- Consider travelling around all the relatives you like best on a kind of Grand Tour, to catch up and reinforce family ties. It doesn’t have to be Christmas to organise a get together.
- Invite other people (or their children) to stay at yours, if you like being a host.
Image: Graham Maddrell / FreeDigitalPhotos.ne