7 Tips for Successful Summer Staycations

#gno information!#gno featuredtravelroad trips & staycations

Since 2009, I’ve organized summer field trips. When I started, my daughters were just 4 and 2 years old, now they’re 8 and 6 and we’re still having fun.

Summer Splash Park

Summer Splash Park

Our summer field trips were born out of necessity. As a young mom, I learned that if I didn’t schedule activities, we’d spend endless days in pajamas. While most folks spend their summers at family reunions, and vacations out of town, I've found scheduled field trips, or staycations, for my off-season, traveling brood, ideal.


So much fun inside and outside San Francisco's Exploratorium

So much fun inside and outside San Francisco's Exploratorium


Below are 7 tips for successful summer staycations.

  1. Discover what’s available in your area. Decide how far you’re willing to drive in a day. Keep in mind the ages of your kids, and what they can handle. Research times, prices, and distances.
  2. Get your kids involved. If they’re old enough to express their preferences, it’s fun to plan with them. My girls love creating bucket lists of things they want to do for any school break.
  3. Select friends, and/or family near you, that both you and your kids enjoy. It can be tricky when a mom friend is a ton of fun, but her kid isn’t kind to yours. Sometimes it’s the other way around. I've learned that having a few friends along is much more fun than dealing with a large group of personalities.
  4. Book it, and lead. Decide if you’ll have activities once a week or more. Or if you want weekly or bi-weekly activities. If you’re the organizer of the group, send reminders, weather updates, and perhaps provide a snack, or activity for those participating. I like sharing something unexpected. If we have a day at a local splash park, I bring frozen otter pops to share; if it’s a day trip to the city, I pack WikiStix for the drive.
  5. Organize your gear. No matter where I go I have a few essentials, hand sanitizer, tissues, bandaids/Neosporin, water, sunscreen, and snacks. Each activity requires different supplies. Planning ahead is key.
  6. Capture the moments. I was raised preserving memories. Probably because I have a short one. I find I have to be present in the moments, to choose when to snap a photo, or a video. I love reliving them.
  7. End your field trip with a quiet moment. I try to have a second to hug my girls, to tell them how glad I am that they came with me, and how grateful they should be to their father who works hard, so that we can take field trips. The girls have learned to thank me for my time, as I've reminded them that not everyone’s mother plans these activities for their kids. I’m a big fan of teaching my kids to be grateful, and appreciating what we have.


Need ideas? Below are some field trips we’ve taken for our summer staycations.

  • Picnics at the park
  • Bike rides
  • Hikes 
Take a hike! We're looking for beavers in this pond.

Take a hike! We're looking for beavers in this pond.



Ride the Ducks in San Francisco and experience a tour of land and ocean.

Ride the Ducks in San Francisco and experience a tour of land and ocean.

What are your family's favorite staycation field trips?


Stephanie Huang Porter and her daughters. Photo credit by Justin Hackworth.

Photo credit: Justin Hackworth.

Stephanie Huang Porter is a Cupertino, Calif. native, living in the Sacramento region. She is a mother of two darling daughters, and wife to a fun, and funny guy. She blogs at Frankly My Dear, and writes for Today’s Mama. Stephanie is the social media manager for Sacramento Bloggers, she spoke at 2013‘s Listen To Your Mother Sacramento, and is a contributor to the book Lessons from My Parents. She loves traveling with her family, and enjoying all the delightful flavors of food available. Stephanie would like to dance in another flash mob, like she did at evo’12. If you can help her out with this, please let her know. 


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