Staycations: How to plan a fun, budget-friendly vacation

By: Craig and Mark Kielburger

Author: Canadian Living


Staycations: How to plan a fun, budget-friendly vacation

By: Craig and Mark Kielburger
Marc and I find ourselves in airports a lot these days and have witnessed how hard it can be to make family travel fun: tired parents wrangling over-excited kids, expensive luggage missing en route, the agony of a lost boarding pass. Onboard, the overhead compartment is never big enough, there's no leg room, and those complimentary earphones never seem to work just right.

Whew. We're exhausted even thinking about it. Over and over, we hear people say "I need a vacation from my vacation!"

Our friend Sylvia and her nine-year-old son Louie shared the perfect solution to this problem: The staycation.

What is a staycation?
A staycation is a vacation from work but spent in your city, enjoying all the things you are usually too busy to appreciate. Admittedly, we were skeptical when we first heard the term: "So we're in Toronto, but not working? Sorry, can you explain that again?"

The more Sylvia and Louie described their staycation, the more Marc and I began to scheme an escape from the office to explore our often-overlooked city. For them, a vacation is only a transit token away.

Getting around
From the age of two Louie has always been fascinated with trains, so they spend their vacations riding around the transit system in Toronto. It's cheap and fun, and seeing the transit system through Louie's eyes was life-changing for adults – the magic Louie sees in those subway tunnels is unlike anything we have experienced on our morning commute.

Louie's eyes light up telling us about the time the subway driver asked if he wanted to ride in the cab, getting a front-row seat and a view almost no one sees. Watching Louie memorize the track system is like being invited to a grand adventure. We know if we've been overlooking the wonder that can be found our transit system, there was so much more to discover in our hometown.

Page 1 of 2 -- Whether you're in Montreal or Moose Jaw, find exciting ways to make your staycation memorable on page 2
Discovering Canada
Our country is one of the most beautiful in the world, and our cities some of the most dynamic. Every town and city in Canada has something to discover – no matter if you live in Montreal, Marystown, Moncton, Medicine Hat, Miramichi, or Moose Jaw...and don’t even get us started on the "N's"!

There are sights to see in communities from coast to coast to coast: Vancouver has been voted the most liveable city in the world for the past five years. Hartland, N.B. has the world's longest covered bridge. Not to mention the "big nickel" in Sudbury, Ont., the world's largest dinosaur in Drumheller, Alta. and the world's tallest totem pole, carved from a single tree in Victoria, B.C. Canada is home to 15 UNESCO World Heritage sites – why not visit the one closest to you?

An eco-friendly vacation option
Staycations have other benefits as well. In our increasingly environmentally friendly society, people are more aware of how their choices affect each other and the environment. Air travel emits as much as 700 million tonnes of carbon each year, and that rate of emission is growing at a rate of 5 per cent each year. Cruise ships generate as much as three times that of a plane trip. Staycations avoid these pollutants while opening our eyes to new neighbourhoods, restaurants and museums in our own town or city.

The next time you have a week's worth of vacation time in your schedule, consider rounding up the troops and planning a week of local exploration. Staycations can be cheap and fun, and they bring back the magic of seeing a city for the first time, or introduce you to that magic through the eyes of your child.

Tips for a fun staycation

1. Remember – you're on vacation! Turn off your cell phone, put away your work laptop and turn on your Out of Office auto-reply. Tell everyone at work that you are unavailable, just as if you were leaving town.

2. Be a tourist. Visit your town's tourist office for maps, guides and tons of ideas to make your staycation entertaining and enlightening.

3. Stuck for an idea? Seek out the advice of friends and family. Find the person who has lived in your town for the longest and ask them for suggestions – we bet they will share fascinating ideas.

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Staycations: How to plan a fun, budget-friendly vacation