Tag

family travel

Browsing

By Tash Haynes

Tash Haynes runs a mamahood, travel and entrepreneurship blog called wisdomandcourage.com as well as her own photography business.

2020 has thrown a lot of curveballs, but the one that has had the biggest impact on me has been not being able to get out and travel. The thing my family misses most since our “new normal” has begun, is our ability to go, explore and see the world. Travel is a huge part of our value system as a family. It’s what educates us and keeps us connected to purpose and our small role in this big big world. It’s also what teaches us most about the people and places we hear about and encounter from day to day.

We have so seen so much purpose in travel that we are known to generally hop on a plane every 4-6 weeks and have made it a habit to go international once a year. As you can imagine, being in the house for the last 9 months had us itching to get out.

With the onset of Covid-19 around the world, our travel options have become limited and any time we decide to step out, there’s a bit of calculated risk involved. The concept of “staycation” has started to buzz around and we are hearing it come up more and more these days, as families look for alternatives to country-hopping and air travel. If done right, a staycation can be really fun and the perfect temporary solution to the travel bug.

Because I am seven-months pregnant and considered high-risk (depending on who you talk to), cross-country or international adventures aren’t the most ideal, but one thing I had initially failed to consider was a staycation. Staycations are incredible and can be ideal for times like these because they allow you to get away and experience a vacation without traveling too far, while also keeping you safe. Another advantage is that they boost the local economy, helping businesses and industries, that depend on tourism and have taken a huge hit, to thrive.

What is a Staycation?

Family enjoying the boat vacation
Copyright: Tash Haynes / @itstashhaynes

A staycation is very simply a vacation at home, within a country, province, state or city. It usually involves a quick drive – 30 minutes to a few hours – and very rarely involves a plane unless you live in a place that is large enough that it requires air travel to get around. It’s a vacation spent at home, visiting local attractions and restaurants, participating in leisure activities that can be completed within a day or a couple, depending on the magnitude.  

It is common that when you are from a place, you tend to take it for granted. There are restaurants you haven’t tried, cities you have neglected and roads you haven’t traveled. A staycation allows you to get out and explore and experience different places and activities that we might tend to overlook as travel options when we are choosing to leave for vacation vs. staying. 

You Know You’re Ready For A Staycation if…

  1. You know you need a staycation if you are tired of staying at home and are ready to get out and explore. 
  2. You’re burnt out and everything is triggering you.
  3. You are ready for a change of pace and need an escape from your real life. 
  4. You want to go on vacation but don’t want to blow your budget. 
  5. You need to fully unwind, disconnect and relax. 
  6. A worldwide pandemic restricts you from going anywhere else. 😉

Deciding on Staycation

Family with kids discussing on a boat
Copyright: Tash Haynes / @itstashhaynes

When deciding on a staycation, it might be tough to know where to begin but I tend to like to start with a few simple questions:

Duration

How long do you want to be away? What are the number of days you can reasonably be away from your home in your hometown? Do you just need one night away or several days to refresh? Once you decide on the duration, it’s time to decide on the purpose for the staycation.

Purpose

Is the staycation for relaxation? Do you just want a change of scenery? Or do you need to work on a special time-intensive project? You just want to dream big dreams? Or do you simply want to make new memories with someone special or your family? 

Budget

Now that we have zero’d in on how much time we can commit and set our intentions for our trip, the next MOST important question is budget. How much can we realistically invest in this staycation or how much do we want to spend? Is this a one-off or is this a replacement for a vacation that was going to be had away from home? Thinking about the budget will help you determine just how long you can be gone and what you can do while you are away. 

Distance

Now that we know what we can reasonably invest, the next thing to consider is proximity from home. How far are you willing to travel? Are you willing to drive the distance or will you fly, train or rent an RV/vehicle to get there. Staycations can happen in the heart of your city, right outside or a few hours away – it’s all up to you!  It’s best to choose whatever causes the least amount of stress but helps to bring you closer to your ultimate staycation goal. 

Staycation Accomplices 

Finally, the last thing to consider is who will be going on this dream-worthy staycation. Is it a solo jaunt? Will you be bringing your spouse for a little kid-free fun or will it be a family trip. Deciding who will travel with you, will help determine food choices/locations, activities and lodging. 

Planning A Staycation That Feels Like a Vacation

Waterfront with skyline
Copyright: Tash Haynes / @itstashhaynes

Reflect on Past Vacations

When planning a staycation that feels like a vacation it is important to think through vacations of the past and pull out the special moments that made that vacation fun. Was it the food? The attractions? The lodging?  Once you figure out what those things are it is important to infuse those details into your staycation. For example: my family loves lots of water time on vacation and really unique dining experiences. So whenever I choose a vacation idea, I make sure that it is water-centered: pool, ocean, water attraction and has a restaurant that is award-winning or serves up a family-friendly unique fare. I know that a lot of our special memories are around water and gathering around a table so by including those two elements, I can guarantee off the bat that everyone will be happy and that it will feel special and exciting for them. 

Consider Your Lodging Preference  

Do you like to dine in or out? Do you want your space to feel like a home away from home or can your family handle being in one room? Do you like being outdoors and sleeping under a tent? Staycations are amazing when considering lodging accommodations because in most cases every type of housing preference can be found and if you are “vacationing” close to home, you might have more of a relationship with those available options. 

Set Intentions

Set intentions and goals for your trip: how do you want to feel when you get there? How do you want to feel when you return? If the goal is relaxation, how do you get there? If it’s to get work done – how are you going to stay inspired? If it’s making memories, how do you and your family do that best? Set your ideas in motion and create the itinerary to reflect your goals. 

Get The Kids Involved

Want to make your staycation memorable and special for your little ones? Get them involved! Whether it’s allowing them to pick out the restaurant one night, or having them come up with entertainment ideas. Give your children age-appropriate special roles in the process or let them make/guide decisions and watch their faces light up with excitement. This will also help them to remember specific details of the trip if they have a special role to play in it. 

Benefits of Staycation

A mom and her child enjoying a boat ride
Copyright: Tash Haynes / @itstashhaynes

There are many benefits to a staycation and here are a few of mine. When you stay local, you get to invest in and support the local economy. Sowing into small shops and regional offers means supporting the local economy, which ultimately means supporting businesses and services that support you and that is of critical importance at this time. You get to see, eat and explore places that maybe you have thought about but never gotten around to. It’s a fun and exciting way to finally jump all in and check off your list. 

In addition to the above reasons, you get the opportunity to build relationships with local vendors, restaurant owners, hotels and outdoor environments and become familiar with parts of your city/nearby locations that you may not have known about. You’ll find out that there is something for everyone. Every budget works for staycations, making travel options available to the masses. 

To check out an example of my own staycation, visit my blog here and check out this post about my staycation in Seattle

I hope this post is a resource that helps you get up, get out and take advantage of the amazing places around you and to explore in spite of what might seem like a limited ability to travel. Still, there’s so much to see, take in and experience!


About the Author

Tash Haynes AKA @itstashhaynes runs a blog called courageandwisdom.com. In her articles, she doesn’t only focus on mommyhood and traveling with her family, but also talks about entrepreneurship. Aside from her passion for writing, she is also a photographer and runs her photography business together with her husband.

Tash believes deeply in the idea of community and is an advocate for empowering others by sharing our stories so that we all grow and find commonality. 


Stay inspired…

It can be a real struggle choosing a destination which actually works for you but really clicks with your kids too.

There’s nothing that quite compares to dishing out a ton of money, using up all your days off at work and discovering such a depth of organizational talent that you briefly consider applying to a travel agency (its not all bad) – not to mention traveling thousands of miles trapped in a cramped metal container which is essentially working against nature itself (come on, don’t pretend you get planes).

By the way: If you do have a pesky (and very real) fear of flying, discover these 5 effective ways to cope with your phobia for your next trip.  

…All that only to make the horrifying and ultimately disappointing discovery that your kids might well have shown a similar level of enthusiasm during your weekly trip to Target – provided ice cream was involved of course. And that day out would have been significantly cheaper.

But there is no need for this – seriously, none! It’s not, either the kids have a good time or we do. A bizarre everything or nothing ultimatum apparently taken straight from a 60s James Bond movie title. Or it shouldn’t be.

Choosing a vacation destination that does the job for both of you is easy. Or it is now at any rate. We’ve researched the seven most kid friendly vacation spots around the world. The kid friend-liest spots you might say. Not to fear though, these destinations will be nice and friendly to the parents too.  

So (and in no particular order), here they are:

    1. Reykjavik, Iceland
    1. Durham, England
    1. Munich, Germany
    1. Huntsville, USA
    1. Amsterdam, the Netherlands
    1. Glacier National Park in Montana, USA
  1. Dordogne, France

Wanna know why exactly these destinations are the world’s most kid friendly vacation spots? (That was rhetorical, please don’t say no 🙏) Keep scrolling to find out.

Kid Friendly Vacation Spots #1
Explore the natural beauty in Reykjavik, Iceland

Kid friendly vacation spots - Reykjavik, Iceland

If there’s anything worth knowing about Iceland, it’s got to be the fact that Icelanders believe in the existence of elves. Which essentially means that your younger kids or maybe the die-hard Harry Potter/Lord of the Rings fan among you will fit right in! (Kidding, this is just a stereotype. Probably.)

But some of Iceland’s traditions really do hark back to ye times of olde. One such handy example being the safety of kids (or everyone really – told you it was adult friendly). It’s a very common sight to see Icelanders leaving their babies in prams outside shops or in open gardens. Despite how it may seem to us, this really isn’t neglect; with such low crime rates, it’s just safe and normal to do this. Point one to Iceland.

These next pros are even better than Elves, however (never thought I’d say that). Think the Northern Lights, naturally occurring thermal hot springs, whale watching – basically everything cool that happens in nature. Take a day trip from Reykjavik to visit the geothermal Blue Lagoon Spa or stick around and explore this amazing capital city. I’d recommend a visit to the Saga museum – because who doesn’t love a bit of the Vikings? (meaning both the TV show and the horn-wearing warriors of course).

Kid Friendly Vacation Spots #2
Feel the charm of Victorian Britain in Durham, England

Kid friendly vacation spots - Durham, England

Durham, England, folks, not the US knock-off 😉.

I do hate to bang on about Harry Potter (that was a lie), but Durham Cathedral (the courtyard specifically) just so happens to double up as Hogwarts. Naturally, there was a good reason behind this decision and even non-wizarding fans will be hard-pressed to not love the beautiful and historic cathedral – and indeed town.

History lovers can go one step further. Head to Beamish, Britain’s largest open-air outdoor museum, which takes you back to an England in the middle of the Industrial Revolution. If you think your kids will enjoy seeing (and tasting) old-fashioned sweets (English word for candy, get with it) getting made, old-fashioned outfits being rocked and walking around building kitted out with all sorts of old-fashioned stuff (which they can touch and play with), then be sure to visit. You can even take a ride on the steam train… Make sure you check out the website beforehand to check out all the kid friendly(/specifically designed for kids) events.

And speaking of cool, hands-on vehicles, look up Durham’s Diggerland too… You might be able to guess what the kids get to ride on here.

Make sure the family tries a chip butty while you’re in the north of England. This chips (English word for fat fries) in a buttered bread role specialty/carb-overload may sound disgusting (which it is), but it holds a sort of thrill to tackle it.

Kid Friendly Vacation Spots #3
Enjoy a wunderbar trip to Munich, Germany

Munich as #3 of the top Kid friendly vacation spots
Source: shutterstock.com/ S-F

Oh, Ja. Lederhosen and beer abound. But although it’s a good one, that’s not the only reason to visit Munich. Shocking, I know. Do you have any science-loving, part-time Disney prince/princesses among your hoard? No? Well then pick a side.

First up is one of the biggest and oldest Science museums in the world, the Deutsches Museum, which is found in Munich. With floors of touchable science-y objects and gadgets, your kids (and you, trust me), could spend hours in here. The Kids’ Kingdom is a good place to start, with over a 1000 activities for kids spread over a whole floor. The top floor viewing deck of the museum also has a pretty good view of the stunning city itself, by the way.

Waiting to see how this is Disney relevant? Just an hour’s drive from Munich is the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s not so humble abode. Visit the spectacular Schloss Neuschwanstein, a spectacular castle built by mad King Ludwig II which perches at the top of a steep hill with the most amazing view over rural Bavaria. Just make sure to take the horse and carriage to the top – not just because horses are cool, also because walking up hills is exhausting. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

If you’ve still got time, take them to the Toy Museum, a museum full of toys from the ages. Obviously. Then a Biergarten? It’s okay, kids are welcome too.

Kid Friendly Vacation Spots #4
Get your space on in Huntsville, USA

Huntsville as #4 of the top Kid friendly vacation spots
Source: shutterstock.com/ Rob Hainer

US Space and Rocket Center. Need we say more?

Well, alright then. This jazzy center is packing rockets, space shuttles, lots of awesome NASA memorabilia. It has a great shop too. But the absolute BEST thing? It has a space travel simulator! How cool is that! Floating around pretending to be Doctor Who. Or an astronaut I guess – whatever floats your rocket.

I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t be, but if you’re not a space fan, then you are hopefully a butterfly fan. Head to the Huntsville Botanical Garden to experience Purdy’s Butterfly House, where 1000s of butterflies, frogs and turtles fill the rooms.

Once you’re in the nature mood, head off to the Monte Sano State Park to take part in some nature trail walks or stay in one of its famous stone cabins.

Kid Friendly Vacation Spots #5
Take a Trip to Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Amsterdam as #5 of the top Kid friendly vacation spots

You know when teachers say something like, ‘forget everything you think you know’? Well, this is one of those times. Please, please forget any previous trips (don’t act innocent, you know what kind of trips I mean 😉) that you’ve taken in Amsterdam, pre-kids. It’s not like that.

Amsterdam has plenty to offer beyond a famous red light district and marijuana. And funnily enough, it really is one of the best kid friendly vacation spots in the world. Quite aside from its architectural charm, Amsterdam has an undeniable cultural scene. Take your kids to the Anne Frank Museum for a great educational visit, or alternatively to the Van Gogh Museum for a bit of art.

Anyone envisioning a more active trip (stop it!) for their family vacation, can travel to Amsterdam safe in the knowledge that gorgeous nature trails, bike routes and boat activities are there aplenty and for all levels of ability.

And best of all of this? The pancakes. Try ’em.

Kid Friendly Vacation Spots #6
Get active in the Glacier National Park, USA/Canada

Glacier National Park as #6 of the top Kid friendly vacation spots

This one can only be about an active family vacation. If you can’t stop your kids running around and playing outside every chance they get, then – well done, that’s an achievement. But seriously – then you should take them here.

You can travel here via Canada or the USA, or take a two-countries-in-one kind of approach if you’re feeling ambitious. The area is a natural wonder, even the little ones might be able to appreciate it with big eyes! Even if they’re unlikely to remark on the beauty of the mountains, they’re certainly not going to get bored of the water rafting, cycling, and hiking routes on offer here.

The trail to the Photogenic Hidden Lake has something tempting about it, doesn’t it? And I’m prepared to bet it’ll look good in the pictures. Who knows, maybe even good enough to stick on a personalized postcard and send to your mom and dad. While we’re on the subject, here’s how to make the postcard-perfect photo.

But take pictures while you can! The effects of global warming are already threatening these last rare examples of glaciers in America. If you want to learn about some easy environmentally friendly travel tips, click here.

Kid Friendly Vacation Spots #7
See ancient sights at Dordogne, France

Dordogne as #7 of the top Kid friendly vacation spots
Source: shutterstock.com/ csp

Seeing some of the oldest cave paintings in Europe is … kind of amazing. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon opinion so make sure you book tickets early for your preferred cave to avoid any disappointment.

If you like old things in general then you’re in luck. The Dordogne region in France is home to over 1000 medieval castles. To get the most out of the castles, choose one or two to thoroughly explore and then consider planning a road trip to see the impressive facades of the outsides. You can be confident that the kids will find this pretty magical – maybe you can buy them little royal outfits too? And a crown? Or am I getting carried away?

By the way: If you do decide to go for a road trip, here’s how to plan it easily in 9 steps so that it goes off with a bang: Plan my road trip.

You don’t need to be stuck somewhere before the Middle Ages for the whole visit, however. Dordogne has a few great adventure parks, each catering for varying ages. Lose yourself in local markets in some of the adorable villages along your way and try the local delicacies. After all, the French aren’t half bad at baking…

We’re actually pretty confident that these are some of the best and most kid friendly vacation destinations in the world. But if you happen to know of any other awesome family friendly destinations, write them in the comments and maybe we’ll add them here..!

Discover more: Traveling with your family can sometimes seem intimidating. Luckily there’s a family podcast out there that deals with issues and provided much-needed encouragement. Find out more here