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family vacations

Having a family with young babies and children is really expensive.  Suddenly we found the trips that we’d been taking within our budget just a few years ago, to England, to Costa Rica, New York and St. Maarten, were off the table for a little while thanks to our limited budget and the logistics of having two very young children. For many travel inclined folks with a real case of wanderlust this can be a total drag.

Rest and relaxation doesn’t have to happen at a destination far away. We all need to enjoy a little break from the daily grind a lot more often than the money we manage to put away for a retreat outside of our province, state or country allows for.

We All Need To Take A Break

“Mental health research shows, in taking any form of vacation—whether at home or abroad—it’s important to disconnect as fully as possible from the root causes of stress, which appear for many working people in digital form. Emails, text messages, social media and all manner of smart phone notifications can infringe on the very purpose of the physical escape.”

An affordable compromise for many families can be to leave their city, and drive just an hour or two outside of their usual stomping grounds.  Ellen Levitov, a licensed therapist says, “Even if you’re just staying close to home, it’s a good idea to announce to everyone that you’re going on vacation. Tell your employer, coworkers and friends that you’ll be unavailable, and if necessary set up an automatic email reply indicating the times you’ll be away.”

Familiar Sights From A New Perspective

One of the best things about hosting visitors from out of town is how you get to explore your own city just like a tourist would.  When we had kids we quickly discovered that we’d be exploring areas that were very familiar to us with little people who were perpetual tourists to the world.  That in and of itself was pretty exciting.

Today the prospect of a staycation, day trip, or short road trip is filled with the magic of a further destination, and our little five year old travel buddies are easily excited about  anything we expose them to.


Staycation Tips & Pros For Parents 

  • You can get a break, even if it’s a short one, particularly if you’re short on vacation time, that will re-energize you and help you unwind from the stress of every day.
  • All of your baby and kid supplies are right there with you, so there’s no packing beyond what you’ll need for a day trip.
  • Trying creating a bucket list with your kids or partner any time of year and make some of the local day trips fun items to cross off the list while you staycay!
  • You don’t need to spend time at the airport, at customs, or on an unending highway so you’ll have more time for lengthy naps and punctual bed times after a day of adventure.
  • You’ll save so much money by sleeping and cooking at home and taking local transit.
  • You can look for Groupons and online deals for family friendly activities all year round to help you plan ahead and spread out the expenses.
  • You are still taking the time to unplug and spend deliberate quality time with your loved ones, which is a huge win!
  • You are supporting the local economy.
  • Getting lost won’t be an issue since you’re close to home, which will limit stress often associated with travel.

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Affordable Staycation Alternatives 

  • Splurge on one or two nights at a nice place not too far away. Plan for middle of the week stays and watch for deals to save even more cash!
  • House swap with a friend or relative who lives a few hours away.  Each family can enjoy a tourist experience without the added cost of a hotel.
  • Camping is an affordable and fun way to enjoy the great outdoors. Check out your regional and national parks to find one with amenities and locations that meet your needs.
  • Camping too rough for you and your family? More and more parks are offering accommodations that fit into the spectrum of glamping; they’re still affordable, but have real beds, bathrooms and shared kitchens available for use.  Operations like Kampgrounds of America specialize in the fun family experience on a budget.


Exploring Canada 150

This summer is Canada’s 150th anniversary, and to celebrate my family and I are deliberately using our family vacation budget as an opportunity to explore more of our country.  I swear I don’t work for the country’s board of tourism, I’m just excited about what Canada has to offer especially now that I’m seeing it through the eyes of my children!

We’ve planned several road trips, camp outs and day trips to explore locally, provincially, and a good portion of the east coast.  Americans, take note, the exchange difference between the Canadian and American dollar will work in your favour and make your travel dollars go even further (just saying)!  The Government of Canada is also offering free access to various parks via the 2017 Parks Canada Discovery Pass.

No matter where you travel, remember exploration doesn’t need to be about expensive and monumental attractions. A lot of what you do can be cheap or even free, just use your imagination, talk to other families, and complete a little research online.

I’m proud to have worked on and to be using resources like Canada’s 150 Cool Playgrounds where you can search using a Canadian map for fun, free, options near your travels or outside your front door.  Check it out!
Have happy and safe travels with your family this summer, whether it’s two miles, hours, or days away from your front door!

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