Spring Break Staycation Ideas
Spring Break Staycation Ideas
By: Yolanda Conrad & Our MNSPCS Concierge Team
With the rising costs of… well, EVERYTHING, a lavish spring break trip might not be feasible this year. But that doesn’t mean the week has to be dull and boring. Consider having a staycation – a vacation at home or near the general vicinity of your duty station. This option can be less expensive and a wonderful opportunity to bond and discover hidden gems in your own area.
Here are a few ideas from our concierge team to help make your spring break staycation exciting and memorable:
Visit local museums/theme parks & attractions
Check out some of the museums in your area (military, art and history, children’s museums, etc). Most offer free or reduced admission costs for service members and their families.
There are hundreds of military and war museums throughout the country and abroad. If one is near your duty station, spring break might be the perfect time to check out the exhibits. For a list of military museums by state, please visit: https://veteran-voices.com/educational-resources/military-museums/. And here’s a list of other military museums and cool sites to visit CONUS or OCONUS: https://militaryfamilies.com/military-travel/22-cool-sights-to-see-at-military-installations-around-the-globe/
If you live in the DC area, you can visit the Smithsonian Institution – the world’s largest museum/research complex. Most of the 21 museums have free admission but there are fees to see some special exhibitions.
If you’re stationed near a theme park (Six Flags, Legoland, Disneyland or Disney World, etc.), invest in a season pass to enjoy the fun during spring break week at a fraction of the cost. As military families, you can also enjoy free admission (once annually) through the Waves of Honor program. The program offers complimentary admission for veterans and military personnel (active duty, reservist or National Guard) and up to three dependents to either SeaWorld, Busch Gardens or Sesame Place.
Additionally, your installation Ticket & Travel office offers discounts to theme parks, attractions, and theatrical performances in and around your area. Please visit your local office for more information on those deals.
If you’re stationed overseas, please check with the MWR facilities for information on discounted rates for attractions there. If you’re in Japan, Tokyo Disneyland features the complete Disney experience in Japanese. If you’re stationed near Paris, France, you could visit Disneyland Paris where characters speak in both French and English.
How about incorporating a sporting event, concert or performing arts show into your staycation? It’s easy and affordable to do so through the Veteran Tickets Foundation. It offers free or discounted event tickets to active-duty service members and their families, honorably discharged veterans, and family members of troops killed in action. For tickets and a list of activities all over the country, visit Vet Tix at https://www.vettix.org/visitor/home.
Have a backyard camp-out
Weather permitting, pitch a tent in your backyard and pile in with blankets, sleeping bags, flashlights, books and snacks. Tell bedtime stories and enjoy the night air. Make s’mores (inside the house or at your firepit), tell bedtime stories, play card games, and enjoy the night air from the comforts of your yard. Download the free ad-supported app, Star Walk 2, to identify stars and constellations in real time. It’s available for both iOS and Android devices.
Visit this site for 25 Family-Friendly Backyard Camping Ideas to boost the fun factor.
Get cooking as a family
This can either be a catastrophe or a culinary delight depending on many factors. Patience and a good perspective will make this activity worthwhile. Once you decide the menu, assign everyone a specific task. Turn your kitchen into a classroom as you review math skills (with measurements and baking times) and reading skills (reciting each step of a recipe aloud).
Hannah Stephens, one of our Concierge Agents, knows how to minimize the stress of cooking with kiddos. She pre-measures all the ingredients needed for a meal ahead of time that way her helper chefs can’t add too much or too little to any mixture.
“If I pre-measure everything first – a ‘mise en place’ if you will – it takes extra time in the beginning and a few more dishes at the end, but it reduces my stress and allows me to have better control on what exactly is going on with so many little hands trying to help,” Stephens said.
To get you all started in the kitchen, here are 50 Kid-Friendly Meals (That Aren’t Chicken Nuggets).
Remember, the most important element of preparing a meal as a family is the togetherness. Cooking as a family provides an opportunity to bond and create new memories and, hopefully, something tasty to eat.
Plan a family adventure at a national or state park
U.S. national parks have so much to offer – from breathtaking views to hiking trails. You can have a picnic, toss a Frisbee, tour the park on bicycles or spend time fishing. There are plenty of ways to have a memorable family outing among nature.
Best of all, you can enjoy the parks with a free military annual pass. Through the America the Beautiful National Park Annual Pass Program, active-duty service members have free access to 2,000 federal recreation sites. If you aren’t stationed near a national park, try visiting a state park (many also offer free admission for military families).
Explore the library
The libraries on the installation (and those outside the gate) offer special weekly children’s programs and events. Please contact your local library for more information. With a library card, you can check out an array of materials to take home to enjoy.
You can also access library materials from the comforts of your home by visiting this DoD MWR Libraries link: https://www.dodmwrlibraries.org. To access this virtual library, you’ll need to log in and verify eligibility by entering your or your service member’s date of birth and DoD Identification Number (located on your military ID card). Once you’re authenticated, you’ll have access to eBooks, audiobooks, a children’s corner, magazines and have the capability to stream music and videos. You’ll have all the material you need to have story time or a dance party in your living room over spring break.
Volunteer at a local agency
Helping others is such a rewarding and exhilarating experience. Serving your local community as a family shows your children the importance of helping others. There are hundreds of places in your community where you can volunteer during spring break. Consider assisting at your local YMCA, a soup kitchen or through opportunities with a local church.
You could also partner with Volunteer of America, a nonprofit organization that serves veterans, at-risk youth, older adults, people with disabilities and so many others in need of assistance. Click Volunteer of America to find a place where you and your family can lend a hand.
There are even opportunities to volunteer on your installation. Check in at your local youth center, family readiness center or loan locker/lending closet. Here’s a link to other ways you can help out at your duty station: https://mybaseguide.com/military-volunteer/.
Have a theme for each day
Crystal Kenney, who’s also a member of our team, shared this innovative idea: When she takes her kids to grandmom’s house for a few days during spring break, grandmom has a “Camp Gramma” full of themed activities for each day of her grandchildren’s visit. For example, they make and eat sundaes for “Ice Cream Sundae Day” and show their creative side during an “Arts and Craft Day.”
You can make up your own family theme days. Have a “Yes, Day” where, like the 2021 movie, you say “yes” to all (or maybe just some) of your kids’ requests. Or consider having a “Cinema Day” filled with movies or visits to local theaters. The possibilities are endless – the memories are forever.
Whatever you decide to do this year, may your week be full of new adventures and plenty of unforgettable moments to cherish always.