Travel can prove to be a challenging issue for some families. Whether it’s low-funds, babies, kids, fear of flying things, health issues, or beyond… a staycation can actually help solve a few of those issues.
When spring break was creeping up, and we got hit by snow for the bajillionth time in Grand Rapids this year, I started to attempt to figure out finances for SOME level of an escape. On top of the financial aspect — because of my current state of health, I couldn’t travel far, as I’ve correlating sitting for longer than an hour to be painful during… and after. Walking was ok.
An upside to the hubs traveling so much? We had 2 free hotel nights coming our way. I looked within a 45-mile radius of what was available — many of the hotels where we could use the points were “airport” hotels. Meaning… surrounded by chain restaurants, so we’d be going to a hotel and would likely stay in the hotel. Something I don’t mind. But, I hate chains (locally-owned biz’s rule!) I know the hubs hates hanging out in hotel rooms, and he’d just end up working through our “vacation”. My kids get anxious staying in one place too.
The only option for us? A hotel in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids.
When I started to comprehend what that meant — basically staying 15 minutes away from home — practically started and ended the very short list of cons.
On the pro-end of things…
We could walk everywhere.
We knew what was awesome, and what was a mediocre money-suck.
We had access to sitters our kids knew and adored.
We didn’t have to pay to park.
We could meet up with friends.
We still had a hotel with a pool and hot tub to escape to.
Sure, it wasn’t a sunny, beach escape like pretty much everyone else in all the land seemed to be doing… but… that wasn’t even a remote option for us, so we made the best of our situation. Our kids aren’t into the water-park thing — they are happy with a pool… anywhere.
We enjoyed 48hrs in the hotel, by calling to ask when we could check in. Another perk when you’re staying in town! Call early to see when you can check it. If they say NOW at 10:30am — GO! 🙂 We were there before noon on check-in day. We dumped our things on our room, jumped on the bed, and made our way to Founders with the kids… on FOOT! Something we never have the luxury of doing… unless we have to park that far away.
The walk seemed long on the way there… I began to question my decision when the kids were beginning to whine… until we arrived, snagged a table, 2 packs of KBS, and a couple of pints from the firkin of a cinnamon, vanilla bean, maple syrup dirty bastard. Holy fuckballs that was delicious!! Downside — since we walked, we forgot the
sanity activity bag, so we broke our “no phones at the table” rule that the adults always break and let the kids play before they ruined our first few hours of “vacation” with “I’M BORED!!!” Twenty-zillion times.
I get enough of that at home. We’re on vacation — where rules are meant to be broken. And the words “I’m bored” are not allowed, under any circumstance, dammit!!! While never said aloud — the following statement is on a constant understood loop in our vacation-y heads “What’ll it take to get you to shut up the whines and be happy? Root beer? Snacks? Candy? New toys? iPhones?!”
You might think that familiar surroundings would automatically = boredom. Not true. The kids don’t remember a time when we lived close enough to walk around “the towers” (their adorable name for downtown).
We soaked in what we could for our limited staycation. The weather was perfect walking weather — 60s! My fav! A walk to a beloved breakfast place we NEVER get to splurge on instead of eating a boring hotel breakfast was a treat. Then we walked off the breakfast after. It was nice to not feel confined to a schedule, and to feel… at home. Even if we were on vacation.
As we got ready for our sitter to arrive on our 2nd night, so she could take the kids swimming while we enjoyed the benefits of NOT driving or cabbing it to/from downtown bars… our kids told us they missed their own beds. Why in baby jesus’ name didn’t they tell us that an hour before?!? We could’ve sent them home with the sitter! And enjoyed a completely kid-free night!! Do you know how long it’s been?!? But… we stuck with the plan. *sigh* Even if we had to deal with bedtime in a tiny hotel room when we came back (sobering realization — thank goodness for a brisk walk after our 2nd day in a row at founders).
While the hubs and I could’ve really used 48hrs away from our children, that wasn’t in the cards — so we made the best of it.
Was it the best vacation ever?
Of course not. But, I would do it again in a heartbeat. Exploring a part of my city I don’t get to spend as much time in as I’d like did get our wheels turning about moving closer to downtown again… gotta love the spring-let’s-move fever.
If you’re looking for an escape, but you can’t afford to go far, look into your local options, especially if you don’t have the luxury of living in the heart of your bustling downtown. Being able to walk everywhere is such a gift.