Summer is the perfect time for a family vacation. The kids are out of school, vacation packages and flights are priced to sell, local weather is gorgeous enough that long road trips are a real possibility and many businesses - considerately and conveniently - are in their summer lull, allowing employees to take time away from the office guilt-free.
A lot of our friends have taken a week or two off this summer to go away on vacation - Orlando, Miami, the Hamptons, Prince Edward Island. Our family's heavy commitment to rep sports and the hectic practice, game and tournament schedules mean that going away during the summer is impossible, and our annual March Break trip to Walt Disney World stretches our budget to the maximum and doesn't leave any leftover dollars for further vacations during the year.
So instead of a summer vacation away, we do a summer staycation!
This year, we checked the soccer and baseball schedules and found a week with a bit of a break - though we normally have a practice or game (sometimes both - separate sports on separate fields at the same time) every night of the week, there are a couple of "off" nights built into the season to allow for rain-outs and make-up games. My husband booked the week off work and we made plans for our staycation.
Though we were tied to home for games most nights our days were free to adventure as we pleased.
We spent one whole day on the water up at my parents' place - beaching, boating, swimming and sunning. We spent another enjoying the outdoors in our own neighbourhood - a long bike ride through the ravine, a couple of hours' water play at the splash pad, a picnic at the park and a pick-up ball game with friends from around the neighbourhood. We visited the botanical garden - a favourite summer tradition - and had ice cream and a patio afternoon on Main Street.
A day out at the zoo - topped off by a trip to the waterpark - has always been one of our family's favourite field trips and our summer wouldn't be complete without it. We were able to make it just in time after soccer for one of our town's summer "Movies in the Park" nights, curled up on a big blanket with popcorn to watch a Disney classic on the big inflatable screen under the stars. And we took advantage of that "off" night to book a camping trip at a nearby provincial park - two whole days of swimming and sandcastles on the beach, campfires and roasting marshmallows, exploring the woods and sleeping in tents and just spending time together completely unplugged from the world.
It was wonderful. It was relaxing. We made memories and we had fun.
We couldn't afford the time or the money to take a summer vacation away - but I can't imagine a better way to spend a week off together than a cozy family staycation.