How to Plan a Staycation

Sunnyside Beach

Wouldn’t it be great to escape the chaos and day-to-day responsibilities of our everyday lives for a week of fun and relaxation somewhere far away?  But what if it’s not in the budget?  Airfare, hotel rooms, rental car, dining out, and other travel expenses can make getting away very expensive.  And even if money isn’t a factor, sometimes health issues or work obligations prevent us from going away anytime we feel like it. It’s March break here and I am feeling we could use some down time.

But that doesn’t mean when the kids are home from school for summer vacation that you can’t still have a great time! Why not plan to take a vacation right in your own backyard?  A true Staycation is more than just time off at home, it’s an intentional time of fun and relaxation for your family.  It may take a little effort to do it right, but ultimately, it can be just as fun as going out of town.

  1. Set ground rules. The point of a Staycation is to make it feel as much like a real vacation as possible, without leaving home. To make sure the whole family is on the same page, it’s good to set some ground rules that everyone can agree on.  These could include some or all of the following:
  • No email
  • No computer or video games
  • No work
  • No fighting
  • Family time only—no independent activities
  • No cooking, cleaning or doing laundry
  1. Spruce up your bedroom. Make sure you have cozy soft sheets and that they are freshly washed. Add some scented fabric softener to the laundry so they smell great.  Unplug the alarm clock and hide it in the closet.  Put fresh flowers on your nightstand along with a book you’ve been looking forward to reading.  Fill a basket with your favorite snacks and some bottled water to keep in your room.  Place scented candles around to encourage relaxation.
  2. Be a tourist. Do you live in or near a city like we do where there are lots of tourist attractions?  If you do, you’ve likely never been a tourist in your own home town.  This is the time to explore where you live.  Visit local museums or monuments, try out a couple of the “hot spots” for dinner, go to the zoo, attend a sporting event or get theater or concert tickets. Here in Toronto, there are lots to do, and lots of them are free.
  3. Spend time in the great outdoors. Go on a nature walk at a nearby national park. With Rouge Park being a National Park and with all national parks being free for the 150th anniversary of Canada this one is budget friendly as well.  Do you live within a couple hours’ drive from a beach?  Take a day trip. If you’re not close to a beach or hiking area, go to a local park for a game of Frisbee, a long walk or some fishing.  Go camping or watch movies in the backyard. Here in Toronto, you might want to head over to the Toronto Islands which are just a short ride away.
  4. Enjoy a family night in. Play a board game together.  Have a movie night complete with popcorn and hot fudge sundaes.  Work on a puzzle or invent a new game.  Build a fire to roast marshmallows and tell scary stories.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money, or even travel out of town to enjoy a fun and relaxing family vacation.  I hope these ideas have inspired a few ideas of your own! We are looking forward to our next staycation right here at home.

A Stay at the Eaton Chelsea

This past weekend for Family Day we took a very nice stay-cation right here in Toronto. We headed to the Eaton Chelsea Hotel right in the heart of Toronto. If you are visiting Toronto or even having a stay-cation like we were it puts you right where the action is. It is a huge hotel (several different elevators for different floors, 1500 rooms and 5 basements)  that is currently undergoing a huge renovation project. I can’t wait to see what the new suite rooms will look like.

dc the robot eaton chelsea

Since it was Family Day weekend and the pool in the Family Fun Zone had just reopened as we arrived the lobby was a very busy place with several families checking in for the weekend. To greet us there was DC the robot who made sure he mentioned the adult only pool on the 27th floor for me and told my teen where the teen lounge was. Rachel suggested they have a teen check in as they do have one for the little kids. In fact, I think for the under 12 crowd the hotel has everything you might need from stroller rentals to highchairs and cribs.

double room Eaton Chelsea

When we got to our room (2 double beds), it was nice to see the little extra touches. The fridge I had requested for the room was already in the room and since it was Valentine’s Weekend there was also a single rose in the bathroom. Little things do matter.

For the first night we decided to order in pizza, there was a pizza menu on the desk so we ordered pizza and sodas to our room and watched a movie we rented on the in house movie channel. There was lots to select from and so many were family friendly.  While watching the movie I even got caught up on some email on the free wifi that is available in every room in the hotel.

family fun zone eaton chelsea

On Saturday we explored the Family Fun Zone. We stopped by the Kids Centre to take a peek in and for the younger crowd there was a jammed packed day planned that included crafts and even movies and popcorn in the afternoon and evening. Did you know they have special programming around the school holidays? You might want to see what they have planned for March Break or the summer. My teen decided to check out the the Club33 teen lounge and grabbed a game for the Xbox systems that they have in the lounge. As well there are several arcade games, air hockey and even a pool table, so remember if you have a teen, send them down with some change. All are pay to play.

family pool Eaton Chelsea

One of the best features of the hotel, is it houses Toronto’s only indoor waterslide at its family pool. My teen even went down the slide a few times. I went upstairs to the adult pool and lounged by the pool and read and dreamed I was in a far away place.

By the time we got around to dinner we were hungry so we headed down to the Monarch Pub. My teen teen loved the grilled cheese sandwich that had 6 cheeses and dill pickle cooked inside along side a ceasar salad. I had the delicious butter chicken and we shared a molten chocolate dessert as it was Valentine’s Day after all.

pirate breakfast Eaton Chelsea

Saturday evening meant more time at the pool and time to relax, wishing for the day not to end. Sunday was our final day at the hotel and it started with a bang with a Pirate breakfast in the Market Garden. The restaurant not only houses Starbucks coffee, but healthy grab and go options as well as stations where you can watch your meal be cooked right in front of you. We ate both our breakfasts here. I had french toast one day and an omelette the next. My teen had pancakes and bacon then an omelette the second. The pirates at breakfast brought an excitement to the meal and they even renamed my daughter Ruthless Rachel. I did notice the price on the kids meals and they were very reasonable.

The weekend ended too soon and based on what we saw, we enjoyed this budget friendly family hotel. If you are looking for a family friendly place to stay while in Toronto I think you will enjoy all it has to offer. You may even want to sign up for their 1865 privilege club which is free to join and gives you extra perks including late check out options. They also have their own app you can download. If you want more information on the hotel you can always find them online or on Twitter at @EatonChelseaTO

* I did get invited to stay at the hotel for a free night stay, but did pay for the rest of my stay. I did also get 3 free meals. My opinons  as always are still my own.