By Eileen Wacker
Summer vacations are one of the highlights of our year but our budget is challenged. Nowadays more than ever we are hearing about“stay-cations”. Can mommy marketing and stealth planning ensure a successful family “stay-cation”?
Consider family dynamics as you embark on your planning. Teenagers are very skeptical about “stay-cations.” They would rather do nothing with their friends than go on a local family outing. Little kids often struggle without their usual routine. And in-between kids are not fun unless most of the time is spent doing what they like.
It’s all about the marketing! Start by saying – this year we are going to have a vacation adventure close to home. We can do all the things we can’t usually do and with our favorite family members. Here is how we are working it out with our four children aged eight to fourteen:
Family Sweepstakes – whoever finds the best coupon deal(s) wins a $20 Apple iTunes gift card. Coupons are everywhere. We use Groupon plus there are coupons for local hotspots in libraries, grocery stores, online and really everywhere if you are looking. Search out coupons for restaurants, hotels and special outings such as theme parks, ziplines, water parks etc. Have a few $20 gift cards on hand to give the kids if they find great deals.
Restaurant Roulette – each person selects a few places they really want to go, especially outdoor restaurants. Even if the places are not known by name, they can specify pizza, Chinese, Thai etc.. Put all the choices in a hat and take turns choosing.
Stay at least one night in a hotel with a pool – whether it is indoor or outdoor is less important. Little kids love to order room service and sit and watch a movie eating their food. Most family hotels have kids menus and kids clubs now. Stretch out the hotel experience. Arrive early and if you can’t check in, enjoy the amenities such as the pool or drop your bags and hit a restaurant. Use those kids clubs to steal some adult time away.
Taking the E-reader plunge and take turns with each person reading a special summer book. Embrace the new technology as your kids are actually fighting to read on vacation. How crazy is that! Let them bring their electronics. Today’s kids carry them morning to night – set reasonable limits but accept they are coming. Let your child teach you one new thing on your device. One of my kids installed the Emogi app so I can add colorful smiles and hearts to my texts and emails.
Create fun, learning jobs. Let your child be the navigator – use your phone and let him/her instruct you step by step.They learn geography and modern day map reading. Other jobs can include journal writer, photo taker and agenda master.
Be loose with cash if you can. Try to focus on all the things you can do – don’t emphasize all the limits. How you project it is how they will see it. Buy the large ice cream and eat it walking through a beautiful place such as a garden, park or lake. Try to say yes to the little things they ask for.
Bring your fun self. You are building lifetime memories so just smile and introduce you newest idea – “doubling down on delight.” Give everything a fresh and catchy theme and some might become family traditions.
See things through their eyes. All “stay-cations” should include eat, play, swim, laugh, outdoors and fun people. “Stay-cations” should not include yelling under any circumstances. Kids are tough and for the most part ungrateful but don’t give in and be the yelling parent on the vacation. These days will become their fondest memories. Be vigilant for the moment when you catch them laughing and smiling, capture it – this is what you will remember. And don’t forget the wine once they go to sleep.