During all the holiday hubbub that fills our calendars with multiple parties, dinners and gift exchanges, shuffling kids from place to place (to place!) can leave many families exhausted. You may suddenly find yourself spending more time in other people’s homes where breakables are just a chubby toddler hand away from disaster. Perhaps your moody teen is “so over” hearing how much they have grown by another great aunt they met once years ago. And let’s be honest, maybe you want a little break from the running around as well. While some families choose to break away by hopping on a plane, that’s not an option for many. Instead of a vacation, avoid breaking the bank and instead plan a staycation!
Find Your Destination
The first thing to do is figure out where you want to stay. If you have a credit card with a rewards program, you may be able to cash in some points for a night or two. If not, check online for any deals. I personally go to Priceline to see their Express Deals. These deals are sometimes much cheaper than the others as they don’t disclose exactly where you are booking until you make the reservation. However, they give you enough information regarding stars and amenities to give you an idea of what the offer entails. Additionally, you can always choose the name your own price option for even bigger savings. If a cabin sounds more up your alley, check out the state's tourism website for affordable state park cabins near the metro (they even give a 25 percent discount to military families).
Find amenities that work for your family. When reserving a hotel, we always choose a place with free breakfast. As a parent, it’s one less thing to plan and budget and the kids always think Hotel Breakfast is the Best Food in the History of Ever. I don’t argue this because they don’t argue about eating. Win-win. A pool is also on our list, and if it’s on yours, make sure it’s an indoor pool while planning a winter staycation. If you’re planning your staycation over the course of a few days, consider choosing a place with a small kitchenette. While a special dinner out on the town is a fun splurge, multiple meals for a large family add up fast.
Out and About
Think of your staycation just like a vacation. Make it a point to check out some things around town that you have yet to see. If you live in Norman, consider finding a hotel in Edmond and spend the afternoon in Hafer Park. Or if you live in another suburb or more rural part of the metro, a stay downtown is calling your name. This list of budget-friendly things to do in downtown Oklahoma City offers plenty of ideas for fun. Or use this family fun guide to find new adventures throughout the metro. You may even find a special deal to a local attraction on this coupon page.
Special Needs Tips and Tricks
Make a social story a few days before you leave to prepare your child for the routine change. Staycations are a great way to help a kiddo who isn’t quite comfortable with being in a new place. You may be in a hotel, but your house is close by should you need to get back sooner than planned. As a mom of a teen with special needs, I used to request rooms on the first floor so my sensory-seeking son could jump, roll and tumble without any worry of disturbing guests directly below us. If you have a runner and/or wanderer, consider letting the staff know at check-in so you have additional eyes working with you to provide a safe environment during your stay.
Miranda Steffen is part of a blended family with four sons ranging from preschooler to young adult. She enjoys exploring the OKC metro while creating adventures and memories with her crew. Miranda has a background in early education and a passion for autism and advocacy. She enjoys a good book, a great bargain, writing and hiking.