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Does a 'Staycation' Actually Cost Less?

Do you end up spending more money and energy than planned to keep your children from getting bored?

I‘ve started to wonder if a “staycation” over Spring Break really saves that much money after all.

My family elected to do the “staycation” in lieu of a trip to Wisconsin or Michigan—or anywhere else for that matte—in order to save some cash. And, from day one, my husband and I found ourselves spending much of the money and energy we were trying to save to keep our children from staring at the TV all day or to rescue them from the depths of sheer boredom.

On day one, I did searches to find an inexpensive way to entertain our kids and found a few ideas. There several outdoor venues that had a free admission, or minimal charge but, considering it was only 30 degrees, those options were not yet very appealing.

After listening to cries of “I’m bored! What are we going to do?” for half the day, I finally took the kids to the library, which of course did not cost us a thing.

The problem? After about an hour, the kids had found all of the books they wanted to check out, and were ready to leave. So what next? We went out for ice cream, which ended up costing $15, and again, only ate up about a half an hour of the day.

Day two: I had work to catch up on, so my husband graciously took the kids to lunch and a movie for the afternoon.

Cost of lunch for three at McDonalds—$14.

Admission for three at the movies—$15, plus popcorn and drinks ($15). Total cost to get the kids out of my hair for a few hours—$44.

Day three: After holding the kids off for most of the morning so I could finish some more work, I took them to play indoor miniature golf at the Charlestowne Mall for the bargain price of $5 per golfer. That actually was a good deal and the kids had fun.

However, that again only lasted about an hour. What next? Ice cream … again.

Day four: My parents thankfully came to our house and entertained the kids for the day at no cost to me. (I didn’t bother ask them how much they spent.)

Now, we're on day five, and my daughter has a friend over for a play date. No cost to me today, but we still have four more days left.

So, would I have spent more money than I did this week if we had taken the kids away for a few days? Absolutely. But I’m starting to think the money would have been worth all of the work I’ve had to put into making sure my kids aren’t bored.

Now, if the weather this week had been more typical of spring weather in the Chicago area, it would have been a different story. We would have been out on hikes, picnics and park excursions. But, we all know we can’t depend on the weather.

So what do you think? Does a staycation really save your family all that much, including from boredom?

Devon Vida April 01, 2011 at 03:12 PM
I'm thinking that with the cost of gas or air travel that a staycation probably does cost less, but it's probably more stressful on parents to find activities that will keep the kids entertained all day. An out of town vacation always ends up costing us more than we had originally intended!
Charlotte Norgaard April 02, 2011 at 12:02 AM
Out of town vacations always cost us more than originally intended also. I guess I thought it was just funny that by the end of the week, I ended up spending more that I had intended also to keep the kids entertained. And when they were home, I felt guilty if they were bored because we didn't take them away. It just occurred to me that maybe taking them away would have been the easier thing to do in the log run.
Devon Vida April 04, 2011 at 02:17 PM
You're right! I went back and thought about all the money we spent last week and it was less than a vacation, but more stressful when it came to finding kid approved entertainment. Next year maybe we'll go the all-inclusive route; at least no one will be bored. The memories of a family spring break vacation are much more interesting than, "that week Mom took us to the indoor pool at Norris."

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