Family vacations are fun, and the range of possibilities is enough to get even the most bored of teenagers interested.
Choose mountains or the beach, historic sites or modern entertainment venues like Disneyland or a regional state fair.
Or … stay home. Because – even though summer is traditionally travel season, and the tradition remains strong – the recently introduced idea of a “staycation” is running strong, particularly in the current climate of economic uncertainty, low-paying jobs, rising health care costs, and an increasingly dangerous world in which the least misstep on the part of parents can lead to injury or death for a family member.
Staycations are Safecations
As the online family resource Safer Child notes, keeping track of family members on an extended outing away from home requires a lot of effort. In addition to the distractions of unfamiliar terrain, unknown local or regional customs, and unexpected obstacles (both physical and logistical), there are the inevitable clashes of behavior that lead both children and teens to venture farther than is safe in an unknown area.
Recent news stories highlight just how difficult, and potentially tragic, this can be. No matter how attentive parents and caregivers are, and regardless of their experience, not even the most cautious individual can control or predict dangerous circumstances.
Staycations Are All About Family
The best part of staycations is that they allow families to spend time together and get closer, both physically and emotionally, without all the extraneous strain of time spent in a new and unfamiliar location.
Staycations don’t preclude a day at the beach, the zoo, the state fair, or even the mountains, depending on what is within an hour or two’s driving distance from home. What staycations do allow – thank heaven – is returning home to a familiar place, familiar beds, and familiar locations for food, toothbrushes, a heating pad, and ibuprofen.
These day trips mean parents and caregivers will still have to observe the ordinary precautions – keeping track of family members, avoiding potentially dangerous food and snacks, cautioning youngsters about interacting with strangers. But the “red alert” status can be dropped at the end of each day’s adventure.
Staycations are Affordable
The average family vacation for a family of four costs about $5,000. For the typical American family, that is 10 percent of the year’s budget for everything!
The cost of a staycation adds only the cost of a day-trip or two, and relies on the savings offered by being able to pack lunches, beverages, snacks, and other must-haves (including the bald teddy bear).
If your staycation also includes intensive family time – spent doing crafts, learning a hobby, or marathoning Netflix – the cost is still minimal.
Figure an additional $100 per day for either day trips or craft/hobby supplies, and your total budget for a really splendid two-week staycation is still less than a third the price of an “away” vacation.
This means that spouses won’t have to add extra hours to their shifts to pay for Christmas extravagances. The pearl ring or new iPhone currently on layaway can actually come home for the holidays.
Staycations Keep Families Together
According to a recent study from University of Washington sociologists, divorce “consistently” peaks during the summer and winter months that typically follow vacation cycles.
Associate sociology Prof. Julie Brines and doctoral candidate Brian Serafini, presenting their findings at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association in 2016, conclusively demonstrated that the months of August and March saw the highest rates of divorce. The two researchers also identified the chief causes: unmet expectations and financial pressures.
Couples and caregivers who choose vacation as a time to “mend” a relationship and preserve a family may be seriously disappointed by outcomes, and sociologists suggest staycations as a way to avoid the unnecessary stress on marriages that vacations can cause.