Good morning and Happy Hump Day peoples! It’s been a while since you’ve seen me in around here but I assure you that all is fine and dandy. The weather has been beautiful so I’ve been doing life mostly outside for now but not to worry, mes amis, I shall be hunkering down in my house in the upcoming weeks and will most likely be putting out more blogs than vlogs for the summer.
We just wrapped up our family’s first “staycation,” but since I’m somewhat sick of hearing the term, I shall henceforth refer it to what my generation would describe as a “mini-vacation.”
So far, 2019 has been the pits for this Lewis family. We’ve rolled with a few pretty intense punches and life seemed more downs than ups. But all in all, I think we straightened our tiara and showed life who’s boss pretty well so I can genuinely say that I’m grateful for the downs because without them, we wouldn’t fully appreciate the ups. I’d been telling Joel that once we are able to slow down, when all the kids activities have finished for summer, my work hours decrease, and our volunteer responsibilities take a break, WE NEED A VACATION! Well, as the universe would have it, there still isn’t much mutual free time in our schedules so I declared that WILL have some sort of respite, even if it’s pitching a tent in my back yard and roughing it for a night. Just kidding, those who know me know that I am afraid of nature…bugs, reptiles of a certain rattling kind, reptiles of a NOT rattling kind, little piggies with really sharp teeth we like to call javelina, moths, humming birds (well, not humming birds since they are so pretty)…I TOTALLY would not sleep outside, even in a tent!
Soooo, mini-local-vacation it is! I happened to stumble a piece of mail that I usually just throw away immediately. It was a mailer from a casino that my husband likes to play at if he gets the opportunity and I saw a coupon for up to four free nights. I thought, “Hmmmmm, really? I’ll have to check in to this and see what the catch is.”
****Side note, I am not opposed to and even welcome the opportunity to look like an annoying idiot if it means that I gain knowledge that will help improve the life of myself or my family.***
So, I called and spoke to the reservationist, gathered a ton of details, and took a few days to ponder and tentatively plan. Let’s made a loooong story short: over a period of time, Joel had accumulated enough credits/points on his casino member card that we were offered the complimentary nights stay. We planned, we stayed, and we enjoyed every single minute of it! If you want to take a peek, here’s the video:
One thing that I’m learning as I become a “more seasoned” individual (and yet, still so young) is that the standards I once had for certain things no longer apply. Pre-four-children Tiffany would say that a vacation needed to be at least 5 days long and go beyond the Arizona state borders for sure, but I’d much prefer to cross the United States border. Well, here I am with very little travel under my belt in the last ten years since the cost of such travel and our budget disqualify our family from partaking of said standards. Darn, right?????? But a surprise overnight vacation my best friend gifted me for my birthday last year turned my head in another direction and now I’m completely sold out on local vacations! Since I’m a bit of a nerd, I thought I’d compile a list of my top three tips that have helped us in our pursuit of adding more respite care to our list of family priorities. Not necessarily ground breaking and Earth shattering but here they are:
1. Brainstorm places of interest and give them a call:
Admittedly, it’s not common to get a free night stay at a local casino resort but I’d be willing to bet that there are plenty of places around where you live that are just as beautiful and un-spelunked by yourself or your family. Doesn’t matter if it’s roughing it camping or living it up in a hotel, call the place you’re interested and ask about pricing, which times of the year are least expensive, and do they run specials for teachers, military, first responders, AAA, etc. Reservationists are usually more than happy to answer questions about things to do around the grounds or beyond. Right now I’m starting to plan our next mini-vacation and I decided to pick three places we’d like to stay and depending on the feedback I get from each venue, we’ll choose the one that works best for our family.
2. Meal plan wisely:
The really cool thing about staying local is that there is not much travel time. Our little vacay was literally twenty-ish minutes down the freeway. We didn’t have to worry about filling the gas tank or potty stops so we eliminated the need for a gas-station snack or drink.
Since this is geared more toward hotel/resort vacationing, I can say that we saved a nice chunk of change by eating right before we left. Seriously, I used to be in the habit of stopping by the drive through Starbucks on my way out of town but lo and behold, eating at home til our bellies were satiated worked even better! And if you’re like me and don’t want to have dishes when you get home, feel justified in using paper plates and cups you saved from a meal out. Really, it’s okay and totally compostable so you don’t have to worry about the environment that much.
The day before we left, I popped two bags of popcorn, one ranch and the other garlic parmesan, and portioned them out. Also picked up some mandarin cups, yogurt cups, pistachios, GF pretzels, bananas, and just some other little ditties for our snacks but we also used these as our side dishes for our dinner. Most places (ahem, not necessarily true for camping) have a restaurant within minutes so we got our main entree at a Subway ($5 foot-long sandwiches and a large salad) and picked sides from the food we bought.
*Side note, we did this for our Disneyland trip a couple years back and my goodness! We saved literally HUNDREDS on that trip!*
3. Squeeze every single drop of enjoyment out of your stay:
No, I don’t mean pay $5 for a puny bottle of Fuji water. I mean take time to RELAX and HAVE FUN!
We don’t get to the pool very often, so as soon as we got into our room, we rushed to get into our swim suits and headed directly down to the pool. We stayed there until it was dinner time and the kids were exhausted from having fun.
We love taking walks but it gets just too hot sometimes and really, there are only a certain number of times one can circle their neighborhood without getting bored from the same scenery so the kids and I went spelunking on each floor. Did each floor look the same, most of them did but that’s not really the point. Some of the floors had different carpeting while other’s had different art on the walls. Most of all, we really loved looking out the windows to see the view each one offered. The higher up we went, the more we loved looking.
And lastly, we don’t have cable at home, so while Joel went down to the casino to play cards for a bit, we pulled the curtains closed and snuggled while eating popcorn (yes, in the bed!) and watched Disney XD til the wee hours of 10 pm.
The next morning, we had plans to rise and shine early and eat our yogurt cups and bananas for breakfast before heading down for one last dip in the pool but sadly, we had to check out early as Joel hurt himself and needed medical care. But I don’t want to focus on that because we still had a FANTASTIC TIME!
All in all, GET CURIOUS!!!!! That’s probably the umbrella that all of these tips fall under. Are they pretty obvious? Yes! Are they somewhat simplified? Absolutely! But the point I want to make is that it’s okay to ask questions, to think outside the box, and to see the beauty in simplicity. I’m definitely not knocking destination vacations, theme parks, and grand vacations, I absolutely love them. We didn’t end up going to Disney at the holidays, which is seriously on my bucket list and reeeaaaaallllllly want to do but it’s okay to tone it down a little and just enjoy laid-back, unstructured play time as well.
And now for the cliche, the time we have here on Earth and even less time we have with our family/friends is soooo fleeting. Getting caught up in “vacation perfection,” as I just dubbed it, can steal joy from precious memory-making time and steal opportunity from getting to know yourselves and our loved ones in differing environments. DON’T WASTE THIS PRECIOUS TIME! Let down your guard, you won’t regret it…I PROMISE!!!
As always, stay safe and God bless!