The Best Staycation Ever: Military Family Edition


This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Chevrolet via MSB New Media. The opinions and text are all mine.

Last year John inadvertently had a staycation because of his whacked work schedule. We had a few days to spare but not enough time to get anywhere (and to be honest, not enough money to get us there anyway).

And you know what? We had an awesome time! Military families have a lot of advantages and resources at their fingertips that civilian families might not have access to. Here’s are a few ways to make your staycation one for the scrapbook:

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Ditch the gadgets

Schedule an out-of-office auto-responder on your email. Make a collective decision to get rid of all of the phones, tablets, and computers. Will it be hard? Maybe. But it will be absolutely worth it to enjoy life a bit and not be stuck to a screen. (And it’s good for your kids to get some real-time interaction that’s not mediated through a device or in addition to a device.) Go play in the pool!

Get those discounts

There are so many discounts for military families floating around. Search for your area and use my list of 48 travel and vacation discounts to see what you can do in your town for less. (But seriously, why pay full price when you can pay less?)

Use MWR

MWR (and other services) on base are often underutilized. From bowling lanes to golf courses to movie theaters to swimming pools (shall I go on?), the MWR has a ton of activities and resources available on base for a fraction of the cost off base. And I didn’t even mention the rentals. Depending on your installation, you might be able to rent awesome things like bounce houses, sumo suits, and rock climbing walls for a very, very low daily cost. I mean, your family could be that family– the one that sets up a bounce house for a day. (Envy of the neighborhood, right there!) And it will most likely cost less than half of what a one-night stay in a hotel costs. Besides carnival-type entertainment rentals, they also have camping equipment, boats of different sizes, kayaks, canoes, and sports equipment you can rent for a very low cost.

Use your resources

Live in an apartment complex with a pool? Have a beautiful town playground? What about the park right next door to the elementary school? Use the fun stuff you already know about to create recreation opportunities that seem out of the ordinary.

Explore your area

Just a few weeks ago, John and I decided to take a long walk around our town. We had no plans, no goals, we just wanted to go for a walk. We spent time in an 18th Century garden, we discovered a Confederate cemetery, and we walked into a huge artists’ studio that we didn’t even know existed. We found so many cool things in just a short amount of time! Take advantage of your time and explore some of the things your town has to offer– a bakery you’ve never gotten doughnuts from, a park you’ve never walked through. There are gems in every town, sometimes you just need to find them.

Set up rules of engagement

Before your staycation, have a family meeting. Sit down with everyone present and create a list of rules together for your time together. Think about the way you want everyone to respect the time you have together. What kinds of activities are okay? What kinds of activities aren’t? This is a great time to talk about together time and what that means for your family as well as expectations for the staycation.

Get away

When John and I did our staycation last year, we went to a small town about an hour away… and I took my laptop and worked through some of it. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I didn’t feel like I had gotten a break and I burnt out about two months later. Moral of the story? You need a break. I need a break. Everyone needs a break from the daily grind–especially if you work particularly grueling hours or deal with a lot of stress. Even if you’re not going far (or anywhere at all), make sure that you can feel like you’re on a cruise.

Make a bucket list

Time can evaporate quickly– and when you’re at home, you can get sidetracked by all of the little things that you suddenly have time for. Make a bucket list of the things your family wants to do on vacation. Make sure everyone gets a say and that everyone gets something on that bucket list. Then do those things.

Splurge

Staycations are usually about saving money. Even if you are saving money, find one cool thing that your family can safely splurge on. Maybe you want to take an art class together. Maybe it’s tickets to see a new movie or dinner at a restaurant you’ve never tried before. Maybe it’s the rental cash for that bouncy house. (Dude, if we had a yard, I would be tempted to rent one! So cool!) But splurge. This is the only summer you get this year, treat yourself and make some memories.

Do the housework early

Your staycation time is sacred. Don’t look at it as a time to do work– house or otherwise. After all, if you went on a cruise or a trip far away, you wouldn’t be able to go out and fill gopher holes in the yard or do massive amounts of laundry. Protect your vacation time, even if you are staying at home. Do the laundry, grocery shopping, gopher-hole-filling (I’m sure someone, somewhere has that on their to-do list), and all of those other chores before your staycation begins. Then you can focus on being a family and enjoying each other’s company. (And make that stipulation for everyone in the family!)

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4 Responses

  1. I love the idea of taking a walk in places nearby where you don’t usually go, or don’t often go on foot. Just finding a little shop or cafe you’ve never visited or even noticed while driving by can make you feel like you’re on vacation.

    1. Yes! John and I had the most wonderful time wandering around our town without any idea of what we were going to do. We found so many hidden gems!

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