Travel-free Summer Vacations with Kids 2021

You’re not going to like what I am suggesting ...

As we go to press with this blog, it is June 2021 and the threats from COVID-19 have diminished with widespread vaccination against the virus. During the past 18 months of lockdowns, the virus has cheated our kids of their normal summer vacation plans – not seeing their friends, no parties, no travel – and with easing restrictions, is 2021 the year to go all out and make up for lost time?

With fingers crossed that some new outbreak, a new strain of the virus, or who knows what will not happen, it is likely that travel within the US will be fairly free of restraint. International travel is more problematic as other countries continue to require quarantine in many cases and the likelihood of further outbreaks seems more likely.

Most articles related to summer vacations revolve around places to visit. For example, Disneyland/Disneyworld are the most favored destinations. So get your PC working and check out how to get there, what transportation you’ll need when you are there, where to stay, where to eat, and what rides to book.

You will not be alone in enjoying these theme parks. They are going to be crowded. They could be more expensive as businesses strive to recover some of the revenues and profits they lost in the pandemic. And with families trying to make up for last year, bookings will be tight and many of the places you want to go may not be available. One tip though, if you want to go somewhere, book it now but only if you can cancel with a full refund closer to the time.

You’ll probably need to fly there and airlines are returning to the pre-COVID days of overbooking, less comfortable seats, less legroom and, it seems, an increasing number of crazy people who refuse to wear masks and adhere to other rules that the airlines are enforcing. We have traveled a reasonable amount in the last few months and while it appears to be fairly normal, there are still aspects of air travel which make it even more onerous than before the pandemic.

If air travel is difficult why not drive? You are now saying, “are you nuts to suggest a road trip for my kids?” Miles of flat, boring countryside and a cramped vehicle is not a lot of fun for children or even adults.

So what’s the answer? Perhaps just stay at home.

“Yikes!” You are saying, that’s where we have been for the last year. A staycation is the last thing we want. But if you weigh up the pros and cons of not going away and decide that travel is just going to be too much of a hassle this year, what can you do to make a “stay at home” vacation work.

The first, and most important thing is to embody in your stay-at-home many of the things you would have if you traveled. Don't just do the "same old" stuff that you have been doing. Make it way different!

The cost for your family to travel for vacation will include airfares, rental cars, hotels or villa rentals, meals out, etc. etc. etc. Work out what the budget would be for a trip to Disney and subtract, say, 25%. The remainder is what you should feel comfortable spending in your week's vacation at home. That can be a lot and it will allow you to do things that you would not normally do when staying at home. And you’ve saved 25%!

Here are some ideas:

· Find a kid-friendly fairly local hotel and book in there. Maybe not for the whole time but a few days. It will be an easy drive and allow you to get away from facing those chores at home.

· Have a picnic party for your kids and their friends. Hire someone to do the heavy lifting and have a parallel event for the parents.

· Eat out – make a list of your favorite restaurants for you and your young ones and make reservations. You would be doing this if you went to Disney, so why not do it at home?

· If some or all of your vacation is at home, spend the money and have a personal chef and a part-time cleaner and a part-time dishwasher, cleaner-upper. Sounds crazy and expensive, but it will be far less than you would spend on hotel rooms. And, Mom gets to enjoy the vacation.

· Have some great meals at home. If you ate out in a resort, you would spend a lot, so why not buy that lobster and the fillet and cook it at home. Perhaps even use a meal service like Blue Ribbon for the week. Your budget will also allow you to afford some great wines, if that’s your thing.

· Do not take calls from the office, take friends shopping and all the other things you normally do when you are at home. This is your vacation, if you were away, you would not do it. Don’t do it now. Tell everyone, you are on vacation.

· Do some other things at home that are not normal. Camp in the backyard. Build a magic pavilion in your little girl’s bedroom.

The key is to make it different than just staying at home and doing what you normally do. It may not be Disney but with a little imagination and being prepared to lash out with your budget, it can be a memorable alternative.

Just a thought!

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