Submitted by Joyce Wilson, TeacherSpark.org
Planning a family vacation can feel daunting during "normal" times, so planning a safe family vacation during a pandemic may seem like an overwheming task for some working parents. The thing is, school breaks can seem overwhelming too if you're feeling stir-crazy, so here are some ideas that can help you plan with prudence and increase your odds of haveing a great time.
How Can You Travel Safely?
While COVID-19 cases waned early in the summer in the United States, they’re now back up now across the country. If you want to vacation safely, you’ll want to consider a few extra things when planning a trip.
One piece of good news is that it’s still possible to stay at a hotel, and hotels are vastly less risky if you’re vaccinated. Risks may vary by location, so be sure to check with hotels ahead of time to make sure they are taking reasonable precautions to protect you from the coronavirus; you may want to ask about their cleaning procedures and mask policies for their staff members.
Another thing to consider is your the vaccination status of fellow travelers. If you're traveling with a group, keep in mind that young children are not yet eligible to be vaccinated. The good news is that if they do get COVID-19, they are less likely to get sick than adults. The bad news is that when they do catch COVID-19, they're pretty good at infecting unvaccinated adults.
RV traveling can be fun for the whole family, while reducing interactions with non-family members. Between April and June of 2020, surveys say RV rentals went up tenfold as people searched for a way to vacation without exposing themselves to too much risk. If you’ve never driven an RV, it's easy to find safety tips online.
Vacationing at Home
Given that risks associated with travel are increased right now no matter how you go about it, one way to reduce risks is to vacation from home. Most people are pleasantly surprised when they take the time to deliberately explore things they take for granted most days.
A movie night at home with the family isn't a new idea, but there are lots of ways to turn a movie at home into a lifetime memory. Consider printing tickets and creating a snack counter. You could even include a budgeting lesson by pricing the snacks, giving each child a snack allowance, and then forcing them to make some tough choices. Or maybe they'll work together to purchase a variety of items to share.
Another idea would be to plan a camping trip in your own backyard. If you’re not used to camping, there are guides you can follow.
If you’re short on ideas for fun things you can do with your kids at home, the Internet offers plenty more ideas and some people have raved about "staycations" that have included putt-putt golf, star gazing, a trip to a local bead store, getting take-out from an unusual restaurant, taking bike rides, picnicing, hiking, painting, ... well you get the idea :) And many activities that you might assume can only be done by traveling, can also be done virtually, such as going on a live African safari.
How Can You Stay Comfortable With Your Kids At Home All Day?
While staying cooped up with your kids might seem inherently stressful, there are ways to make it work. Involving your kids in housework can keep the whole family busy while also making it easier to keep the house neat. If you can’t imagine how you can get your kids to join you on chores, slowly introduce them to cleaning in ways that won’t discourage them, and think about rewarding them with a treat after the project has been successfully completed.
The bottom line is that while the pandemic may prevent you from going on traditional trips to crowded places, it doesn’t mean you can’t vacation at all. With a little creativity, you can stay safe and still have a great time with your family.
Editors note: Our family staycationed one year after my husband had been laid off and we were living off a single income for the first time. We'd taken many nice trips in the past and had started a practice of ranking our vactions each time we returned home from one. Our kids, 12 and 7 at the time, rated the staycation as the second best trip they'd ever taken; they only ranked our trip to Hawaii as higher. I, on the other hand, was feeling sorry for myself and muttered, "The way things are going we'll probably spend a week playing board games in the basement for next year's vacation." Our seven year old son instantly replied, "That would be a blast!" In that moment I learned that our kids valued time with us having fun and they didn't care where it happened.