Forget the luggage this March Break

[attach]1222[/attach]With a recession in swing and a pandemic on the loose, there are plenty of reasons that some families might choose to stay home this March Break rather than jetting off to a beach or spending gas on a lengthy trip and accommodations.

But there’s no reason that staying home can’t be fun. In fact, travel-free vacations have become so popular over the last few years that the term ‘staycation’ (stay-at-home vacation) has found its way into the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary.

There are plenty of ways that one can pull off a staycation: stay close to home and enjoy nearby activities or if you are creative, invent activities.

Step 1: Budget

The beauty of the staycation is that it can be tailored to any budget. Sit down and figure out how much you’re willing to spend.

Remember that by staying home, you’re already saving tons of cash on transportation, and accommodation. In addition, many activities need not be expensive.

“There are a lot of free events going on if you want to experience an urban destination without spending a lot,” says Emily Sheff of Toronto Tourism.

She points to destinations like the Natrel rink at the Harbourfront Centre. Open seven days a week, it’s the city’s largest outdoor rink.

Admission is free and there are rental discounts for kids, seniors and groups of 10 or more. For a spin on the activity, there are also special “DJ Skate Nights” on Saturday nights.

To save even further on things like parking and gas, families can also get around on the cheap by taking the TTC. A TTC Day Pass ($10) is good for unlimited travel for two adults and up to four children 19 and under.

Many activities around the city carry admission fees but offer good value, such as the Ontario Science Centre, the Royal Ontario Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario.

“Families should take advantage of the fact that we have the world’s third largest theatre district after London and New York,” Sheff says.

Those with a more robust budget might even consider spending a weekend at a downtown hotel or a bed and breakfast, some of which offer attractions like indoor water slides and kids’ check-in.

Step 2: Plan out your events

The whole idea is to get away from the everyday without getting far from home. Figure out how to do things differently. Many people can live in a city for years without ever exploring what it has to offer.

Avoid the pitfall of waiting till the family feels like an outing before mulling possible activities. Sit down together before the staycation and plot out options. Planning activities will create the anticipation one feels before a regular vacation. It’ll also help maximize time and avoid disappointment resulting from line-ups and sold-out events. Staying in and having a pajama pancake party is totally acceptable as well, as long as it’s in the game plan.

Step 3: Take pictures

Treat each day as you would a vacation far from home. Capturing the memories of the staycation will help set it apart from a regular day.

And unless you’re going to turn it into fun that the kids will buy in to, don’t use the time to re-tile the kitchen or clear out the garage.