6 Alternative Ideas to Vacation This Year

6 alternatives to vacation

Vacation is such a summer staple for many of us. But when life changes, vacation may feel like an unreasonable risk or expenditure. Here are 6 alternative ideas to vacation to ensure you still make plenty of memories with your family at home! 

vacation alternative ideas pinterest image with sandals

*This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through a link, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for supporting my blog!*


If you’re like us, vacation seems like a spring and summer staple. After the dreary winter, it just seems so nice to take some time off work, pack up our stuff and head somewhere fun to make memories with our family.

But, also, if you’re like us, vacation seems pretty much impossible this year. It’s hard to decide where it might be safe to go. And even if we found a place, there’s the drive to get there. Do we have to cross state lines? Are they safe? What if we have to stop at rest stops or gas stations?

And it’s hard to plan. If we choose to go somewhere in 3 weeks, we have no idea what it’s even going to look like there in 3 weeks. SO, we’ve pretty much decided we’re not going anywhere.

But with my husband working from home indefinitely – which means we’re all home together all the time – home feels crowded, and just taking some vacation days to stay home seems silly and boring. So I set out to come up with some ideas to make a break feel like a vacation, even if you’re not on vacation.

6 Alternative Ideas to Vacation This Year

toddler climbing playground ladder

Explore Your City

We are often so focused on going somewhere else, we forget all the magic our kids can find in our own town. Take a week and make it ‘staycation week:’

  • Get takeout or eat at restaurants you’ve never tried or not eaten at for a long time. 
  • Make a list of places you can explore. Look for nature centers, parks and playgrounds, mini golf, fun murals/statues/art, historical markers, zoos, etc. We’re planning to stick to outside activity because it’s easier to socially distance. But if you feel safe visiting indoor places, see what your city has to offer.
  • Make a memory book together each night of your ‘staycation.’ Ask your kids to tell their favorite part of each day, write it down, and print photos to add in. 

If you make exploring your city seem exciting, your kids will be excited. They’ll make great memories! 

We’re planning to do this with Camden this year, because this is a great alternative to vacation when kids are little. We’re going to explore all around our town and the surrounding areas. So far, I’m planning for us to visit a nature playscape, a couple of playgrounds we haven’t been to, a couple new restaurants, and we’ll grab dessert from a bakery and eat outside. We’re close to a completely outdoor animal adventure, and we love exploring the local botanical garden. 

backyard camping vacation alternative

Go Camping – at Home

If you live near a local campground, pack up your stuff and go camping! If you don’t, and you’re not looking to travel, set up a campsite in your backyard!

  • Set up a tent and have the kids pack their bags.
  • Plan to cook your meals over the fire or grill and put your drinks in a cooler. Make sure the kids stay outside (except for the restroom, obviously) so they really get the camping experience.
  • Don’t forget the marshmallows for s’mores! Grab graham crackers, chocolate graham crackers, Reese’s, white chocolate bars, chocolate bars, and flavored marshmallows to create your own fun s’mores bar!
  • Plan camping activities. We bring out our bags set, our Spikeball game, and horseshoes to keep our son (and us) entertained. You can find more of our favorite outdoor games here
  • Plan some nature activities, like a nature scavenger hunt or nature art, to get the kids interested in being outside and being in nature.


Make a Summer Bucket List

Sit down with your kids and ask them what they want to do this summer. Be realistic about expectations and what they’ll be able to do. Pull up ideas of summer bucket lists and summer crafts, activities and fun days on Pinterest or Google to help them brainstorm ideas. 

Make your list on a piece of posterboard and let them decorate it. Hang it on the wall and get busy! Every time you finish something on it, add some fun stickers or cross it off – whatever your kids want to do with it! 

And set a goal for finishing. Maybe, if you complete the entire list, the kids get to have an ice cream party or spend the weekend at grandma’s. Dream big – it’s an unusual summer! 


backyard carnival games

Create a Vacation Destination in the Backyard

There’s a good chance that your kids are missing the fun activities that come with vacation – the amusement parks, fairs, beach, movie theaters, etc. So recreate one (or more) of them in your backyard!

You could set up a carnival in your backyard. Pinterest has a ton of ideas for simple carnival style games that you can create with things you have around the house or can get them at the Dollar Store. Use scooters, bikes and ride on cars to create fun carnival rides. And cook up some corndogs and funnel cakes to get all the carnival/amusement park vibes!

Or set up a fancy outdoor movie theater in the backyard. Project a movie on an outdoor screen, sheet or side of a building. Use blankets, pillows, crates, play tents, etc to create a cozy outdoor space. Make some fancy popcorn mix and watch a new-to-you movie! The kids might even like it better than going to the theater!


Plan Next Year’s Vacation

Hopefully, things will look a lot different next year, and traveling won’t seem so iffy. As another alternative to going on vacation, set some of that money aside to add to next year’s vacation and let the kids brainstorm how to use it.

Plan a fun vacation for the next year. Choose a destination together and spend time researching what the destination has to offer. Make a list and vote on places to visit and activities to do. Make a vision board of your dream vacation for next year and let everyone get excited about it. It will be something to look forward to all year!


build a family project together swingset vacation alternative

Build Something as a Family

Not going on vacation should save your family some money. So you might feel like you’re in a position to be able to build and create a family project for the house or outdoors as an alternative vacation. Some ideas:

  • build a swing set/play set together
  • redo the patio and let the kids help choose the set up; create a fun kids’ corner with cozy kid furniture and toys.


Alternative Vacation – Who is More Disappointed?

While we’re all worried that our kids are missing out or disappointed about not being able to go on vacation, it’s probably less of an issue than we’re imagining. Kids are resilient and, really, they just want to have a good time. So if we have an alternative vacation plan of some sort – even if it’s just once a week pajama parties – kids will still have fun and make great memories.

There is a good chance that you are disappointed. I feel pretty disappointed that I can’t plan a vacation that l probably go nothing like I planned and from which I’d probably be more exhausted when I got home than when I left. It seems like we’re missing out on these huge memories. But, like I said before, that’s my expectation and not my kids’ reality. So I’m going to work hard to manage my own disappointment and take comfort in all the memories we can make right at home every single day this summer. 


Want more fun ideas for summer? Make sure to come join me on Instagram – I can’t wait to connect with you there, too!

You Might Also Like


  1. realmofvibes

    I hope to bring my daughter to the aquarium and zoo this summer. Thanks for the ideas!

    1. Mommahasyou

      I love the idea of a bucket list!

  2. Cam Deal

    I like the backyard camping adventure! I need a tent.

  3. Ashley T

    I’m Ashley – I’ve done so many of these tips and it’s honestly been so great! Thanks for sharing!

  4. raisingprincesswarriors

    My girls would love to go backyard camping! these are great ideas.

Leave a Reply

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons