Family staycation: Why out of season is the new in seasonFebruary 28, 2017
In a fit of midweek 'aaaargh!' I hopped on to the internet and found us a place to escape to- Falmouth, MA.
We've been to Falmouth a few times before and have a special little affection for it as it shares a name with the British town where Charlie and I met at university.
We had a completely wonderful time, even with the military operation that was packing for the trip and the world of stuff we took with us. It's made us feel totally ready to head away on more mini breaks (and almost ready for the bigger trips we have planned this year) so I thought I'd share what we learned as new parents for other families looking to get a bit of R&R!
Out of season is the new in season-
You first though for a February getaway might not be a New England beach town.. rather a Florida beach town with some winter sun, but hear me out.
Staying at resorts out of their usual season has it major perks:
- It's not as busy- this means you'll have your choice of travel and accommodation dates, you won't struggle to get into restaurants, and you won't spend half your vacation time in traffic jams
- It's cheaper- MAJOR perk! You can stay in the better hotel, in the bigger room, and splurge on the upgrades that'll make your stay extra special because you're not paying the high season premium
- Avoid the crowds- a certain amount of hustle and bustle can be fun, but if you're navigating a double wide strolled through narrow doorways and lugging a diaper bag the size of suitcase crowd can be a bit of a headache. Visiting out of season you might not get to don your swimsuit for a beach day but wrapping up for a bright blustery walk on a beach all to yourself isn't too shabby.
- Low season doesn't mean a low chance of good weather- if you pick your dates right and cross your fingers you can enjoy glorious days of beautiful weather without the high price. We're having a 'summer' holiday later in the year in June, the week before high season starts and are paying a lot less then if we were staying in the peak of summer. If you're staying when the weather is unpredictable and it ends up not being exactly what you'd hoped have an alternative plan: Watch a movie nice and cozy in your huge hotel bed, choose a hotel with an indoor pool (which'll be more affordable out of season!) or hanging out someone fun locally.
Vacation might bring to mind hopping on a plane and jetting off somewhere a few hours away, but with littles in your party an hours drive might be the most your nerves can take in travel terms.
So often we overlook the wonderful places that are close to where we live in favour of far off locations, but does it matter if you're going 45 minutes down the road or flying 5 hours? As long as it's somewhere you'll enjoy being at the end of the journey it doesn't matter if it's in the same zip code or another country.
Familiarity is also a bonus if you've only got a short time to take your trip. By staying somewhere whose local haunts you're familiar with you'll know exactly where to head when you arrive in town to make the most of your time. It'll also mean you have a mental directory of what to do if the weather turns or children's attention spans are a little shorter than hoped for!
Discovering somewhere new is a lot of fun. But not if you don't have time to enjoy the perfect restaurant with stroller accommodating tables and a menu with kid friendly options thats just the right walking distance from your accommodation if you've spent the whole of your short trip searching for it!
..and by that I mean take advantage of all the conveniences you can. If, like us, life has been working you pretty hard and you're after a bit of a break, really give yourself a break.
I make all the babies' food myself from scratch, but the idea of transporting a weekend's worth of frozen home made puree cubes seemed like a lot of work, so we brought ready made pouches and everyone survived. My mum guilt didn't swallow me whole and the kids kinda liked the novelty of having food squirted at them from small bags- wins all round.
If you're a cloth diapering mama, maybe consider disposables for the weekend; if your kids are always in the most adorable matching outfits maybe let yourself off the hook and be ok with throwing a sweater over their pyjamas to take 'em out to dinner (it's SO much easier for when you get home and have to do 'the transfer'); screen time limits are great but if the weather doesn't know you only want the kids in front of the TV for half an hour a day and decides to throw down- movie night in bed isn't the end of the world.
Vacations are about treating yourself. As a parent I think treats come in both the form of a nice cold beer but also an easier life and happy kiddos!
A different kind of trip-
The mini-breaks you may have taken pre-babies may have been filled with unplanned days of exploration, stumbled upon local gems, and squeezing on to a seat at the bar of the hottest new spot in town, but that's probably not what this trip is going to look like.
I'll admit that when we were choosing our restaurant for our one night away, I really wanted to head to the local independent foodie favorite. But after a quick call to check about stroller access and subtly glean whether or not their eyes would roll at the sight of not one but two small babies on a busy Saturday night's service, it was clear it wasn't going to work!
We instead went to a chain restaurant in the nearby larger town who were incredibly friendly on the phone when I asked about bringing our huge stroller, and were so welcoming and helpful with all our kid related requests when we went to eat.
No, it wasn't going to yield my most liked instagram post of perfect culinary dreamer's flatlay, but it was a great meal that I got to enjoy with my whole family without worrying about the side eye I was getting from fellow diners (or staff).
We took that same approach to all aspects of our trip: breakfast in the restaurant at the hotel instead of the quaint but super packed local diner; a short walk to the beach and back instead of spending too much time in the beautiful but blustery sea air; heading to bed by 8pm with a movie on low and take out tiramisu instead of a late night and cranky kiddos the next day.
It wasn't the same kind of trip Charlie and I would have gone on in years passed... it was so much better.