Courtney Warren is a Texas-based interior designer whose work has been featured in Real Simple, Better Homes & Gardens, Good Housekeeping, Apartment Therapy, and Today.com. She is a frequent consultant on Fox 4 TV’s Good Day program in Dallas, was ranked in the top 3 percent of interior designers in the US by Houzz.com, and starred in the Dallas episode of TLC’sFour Houses. She delights in helping overwhelmed clients create beautiful spaces—and will never turn down a warm chocolate chip cookie or Diet Dr Pepper.
Ah, summer! Travel seems like it could be iffy right now, so it could be a perfect summer for a staycation and some simple ideas for family fun!
What’s usually on your family summer calendar? Some travel? Exotic vacation destinations? For Texans, it often means trying to head somewhere COOLER! This year, maybe not.
What is a staycation? Staycation is a term that popped up in English about 15 years ago, and the idea became really popular as gas prices soared and distant vacations seemed out of reach. For a number of reasons, this seems to be a good summer to consider staycations and easy family fun.
“Courtney!” you say. “If you only knew how much we HAVE been staying at home already!”
I know, I know. But we’re talking now about something other than the kids on the video console and you at your work desk, fielding emails. Instead of everyone doing a solo venture, summer’s a great time to see what kind of fun we can have together at (or near) home.
So, if you are already working from home, to prep for staycation, you’ll want to commit to taking a vacation day or days and putting out an “away” message. “Sorry, clients and coworkers, I’m unavailable until ____.”
And no cheating by using time off work to do errands or projects around the house. A vacation is for intentional fun and relaxation!
Staycations can be much cheaper than vacations, for obvious reasons: if you don’t travel at all or you stay pretty close to home, you have few or no travel expenses.
And if you create fun in your own home, you won’t have a hotel bill. In addition, you may not be dining out every meal, or paying for expensive attractions. Come to think of it, there’s a lot to recommend staycation-ing! Bonus: in these times of economic uncertainty, planning some family fun that’s not expensive can be a real stress reliever for parents.
What are good places to visit as a family? If you do actually get away (but not so far as to require airline tickets), you might opt for a day trip that includes a hotel or Airbnb stay. (I understand cleaning protocols at rental properties have been enhanced these days, and can include extra time between guests.)
While we’re on that topic, let me show you a couple downtown Dallas Airbnb rentals I had fun working on for a Texas staycation.
A studio this size would be just right for a couple that wanted to do some walking around downtown, enjoying outdoor areas as well as walking and bike trails.
Need a staycation idea for a couple? I’m thinking stretching out on the sofa for a light novel–no ponderous reads on staycation. A nap may be in order. Maybe a little dancing to your favorite playlist. Then, sipping a beverage at night on the balcony while taking in the Dallas skyline.
Here’s a great staycation idea: stream a movie based in an exotic location and order in food based on the country you’re “visiting” for an immersion experience!
Here’s another property I did for the same client. This one is a good size for a family.
We set this table pretty glam, but think of it cleared off and the family gathered around it for your favorite board game! Of course you could do this at home, too–just not with that view.
2. Easy fun: break out all the family’s snack favorites and start a card tournament at the bar while munching away!
3. Another family staycation idea– Plan your own tasting menu!
Mini plates of one tasty little something after another. Like a fancy restaurant on mini plates. Vote on your favorite.
4. I wonder if you can fly kites from balconies? Oops, you didn’t hear me say that.
5. Does your family have a favorite series of movies? What about a Toy Story or Harry Potter marathon day? Stay in your pj’s, order eats online, and set up a dine-in movie theater.
6. Mom, if you’re not that into the movies chosen, you might have a golden opportunity for a girls’ spa day while the guys are fixated on Spiderman or Sonic the Hedgehodge. A foot mask, maybe? A leisurely manicure?
7. This idea requires an outing–pack everyone along to the nearest grocery. Pick whatever the kids want for one meal. Honeybuns, Spaghettio’s and potato chips? That’s perfectly fine–it’s just one meal, after all.
8. Whether it’s splash in the pool all day or make a slippy slide with plastic sheeting and a water hose, we can all use our imaginations to generate intentional summer memories. Take photos of all your activities and make an online scrapbook together.
9. Order some materials online for crafts. Have you heard about these Zena colored pencils– they are a HUGE deal right now? I think they are from Europe and apparently they are amazing. (I am into coloring anytime!) This is also a good time to start cranking up your Cricut machine that is gathering dust in the other room? I have seen people make really cool stuff with those babies.
10. Set up a family reading club, even it has to be downloadable books, and award prizes for pages, chapters, or books completed.
11. Be a waiter and serve the kids like in a restaurant. (Oh, you already do that? HAHAHA!)
One more option…
Let’s say you decide to skip the hotel or Airbnb stay and do some of my suggested activities from home. However, you wanted one great outing to top your staycation. Have you heard of bikepacking?
The newest hybrid of biking and backpacking is bikepacking–loading up your bikes with enough provisions for a day of riding. Depending on ages and abilities, you can even develop your outing into an overnight adventure on the trail. Check out bikepacking.com for routes and other info.
I don’t think my trusty cruiser bike would pass muster as a trail bike. But it’s good for a few blocks around the neighborhood. Grab your helmets and everybody can ride along. That kind of homespun fun is just the kind of personal and imaginative summer kids appreciate. Staycation is–just time with you, and your undivided attention for a while.
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