As soon as my husband booked off two weeks for vacation at the end of August, I started brainstorming and researching potential destinations for a family trip. “Let’s go to Quebec City… or maybe Montreal, since it’s a bit closer. What do you think of Boston? Hey, how about Chicago? I’ve never been there.” But then I realized that taking little kids on a long road trip to a hot, sticky, concrete jungle probably isn’t a good idea. It’s also expensive.
“Let’s go camping instead.” I quickly ran out of ideas, though. We live in a beautiful beach town, so there’s no novelty in that. Nor does it make sense to head toward cottage country in Muskoka or Algonquin because that’s where my family lives and we can go anytime. Quite frankly, the idea of hanging out in a provincial park campground with the boys for a week is not my idea of fun. They are at that awkward age where it’s a non-stop zoo, from the moment they wake us up (and the rest of the campground) until they fall asleep at 9:30 p.m. There’s no such thing as relaxed sitting around campfires or having leisurely dinners or reading our books. It’s just plain stressful, keeping them from falling into the fire and eating strange mushrooms and impaling each other with sticks. I get tired just thinking about it.
Our family vacation was making both my husband and me anxious even before we’d decided where to go, so we came up with an alternative solution. It’s the vacation’s less cool cousin – the staycation! As a self-professed travel addict, this was a hard pill to swallow because why on earth would I turn down an opportunity to go somewhere? I felt guilty, as if I were succumbing to laziness and convenience. Travel isn’t supposed to be easy; it’s an adventure, so what was wrong with me for not wanting to rough it with the kids? I had to do some serious thinking and finally I resolved that the issue is not about me lacking a spirit of adventure, but more about me having specific places I want to go over the next few years; and in order to make those bigger trips happen, I can pull back on the little trips for a while. After all, there’s no sense in going somewhere just because I feel we should be going somewhere.
The bonus is that we live in paradise, so there’s plenty to enjoy here. In order to make the most of our staycation, we’re trying to view our home through fresh eyes, with a spirit of adventure. Hence our spontaneous day trip down the Huron coast on Sunday. When Jason suggested we sleep out on the front porch with our air mattresses and sleeping bags, I said, “Yes!” instead of looking at him like he was a little kooky; and it turned out to be really fun, if a bit hard. We’ll go to the beach as often as possible, eat plenty of ice cream cones, and have some campfires in the backyard, all the while knowing that we can tuck our boys into their own beds at night. Then we’ll take a deep breath and relax, enjoying the kind of calm, pleasant vacation we wanted all along.