Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Merits of a Staycation

One of the best things we've done in a long while is a "staycation". We didn't have time to hop a plane to some exotic locale but our city provided adventure at every turn.

With March Break just around the corner, this is a perfect time to plan your family's own "staycation". Here are some ideas of how to have a vacation in your own city. 

1. Play tourist

Research a landmark in your city that tourists tend to visit and go explore. We often overlook attractions that are in our own backyard because we see them every day but it can be really fun to see it from your child's perspective. Check out my family's trip to the CN Tower this past Family Day weekend!

2. Get Moving

Hop on a city tour bus to learn the history and interesting facts about city buildings. You will likely find yourself in new parts of the city so go off and explore. If your city doesn't have a tour bus get a family pass for your local city bus and hop on and off at leisure. Kids seem to love trains (perhaps because they can walk around on them???) so that is another option. Bike riding is free and takes you onto trails and paths that we miss when we're driving from A to B. Pack a picnic and make a day of it. No matter what mode of transportation you take, you will always find interesting places that your kids will want to explore.

3. Visit a New Country

I know, I know, I said it was a 'staycation' but if you live in a big city like I do there are lots of little ethnic boroughs to explore. Spend the day in Little India, Chinatown, Greektown or another ethnic neighbourhood. Try new foods, learn a few words, look at the different architecture, see if there is a community play or event going on. Even if you live in a smaller town you can usually find an ethnic restaurant. Research some local customs before you go out to eat and share your information over your meal. You really can experience a great deal of culture without leaving your own backyard.

4. Help Others

There is always a need for volunteers in the community. Take time to help out at a food bank, a local pet shelter, or spend an hour or two cleaning up your local park. If you can, organize a few families for a neighborhood cleanup and finish up with a casual pot-luck meal. It may not sound like a 'vacation' but the lessons learned and the pride in helping others will be a long lasting memory for everyone.

5. Get Outside

It doesn't matter what the weather is like, there is always something fun to do outside and if your family is anything like mine, there is nothing like a little fresh air to improve everyone's moods and change up the energy. Dust off the skates, sleds, and skiis. Build a snow fort. Have a snowball fight. Put on some rainboots and splash in the puddles. Fly a kite. Go on a nature walk. Pitch the tent in the backyard and sleep under the stars. Create your own outdoor outdoor movie theatre with a sheet, a projector and a laptop. Initiate a street hockey or soccer game. Whatever you choose, just do it together.

While it may not seem as exciting from the outset, a 'staycation" can prove just as rewarding and a lot less stressful. A "staycation" means no bags to pack, airports to sit in, luggage to lose. The fun and adventure you can have locally is endless. I can't wait to hear about your "staycation" adventures!

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