Gimme a Break! The Art of the Daycation


Everyone loves a good vacation. You plan the trip months in advance by selecting the perfect accommodations, shopping around for the best price on a flight, purchasing a Frommer’s guide at your local bookstore, making reservations for Zagat rated culinary experiences and otherwise daydreaming about all the fun you will have on your journey.

My handsome husband and I LOVE to plan vacations. These days, however, we get about 2 hours into planning such an excursion and we come to a dead halt when reality strikes:  for our family of five, we have to purchase 3 airline tickets, we have to hold two babies (one of which seems to have hit her terrible twos several months early.  I’m looking at you, Sophie…) on our laps for the ENTIRE flight, we have to pay to check car seats, plus we will likely make everyone on the plane ornery when our children begin screaming like their lives depend on it somewhere over the Pacific.  In other words, we are going to have to work awfully hard to pull off a vacation with even a modicum of success. I get stressed out just thinking about it, and who needs that?!  Not this gal.

This is why my handsome husband and I have perfected what we have affectionately dubbed the “daycation”.  A daycation is taken in the family car.  The car is a magical place where juice boxes and sippy cups exist without being confiscated at a TSA checkpoint.  The car is a mystical place where emergency DVDs can be played on demand to buy Mom and Dad 90 minutes of relative quiet.  The car is a mechanical microcosm where your children can scream like the banshees that they are and NO ONE BUT YOU can hear them.  I mean, if a child squeals in the car, do they make a sound??

We returned from our most recent daycation yesterday.  The handsome husband and I had to head to Palm Springs to visit a client, so we took the kiddos and made a daycation of it.  After spending time with our clients, we headed to San Diego, stayed in LaJolla, and lived it up with no headaches whatsoever.

I shopped around on (I use this site religiously for great deals every time we travel) and found a 7 acre resort in LaJolla with a room for $120/night (regularly $250/night).  Score!  This was literally the only plan we put in place before our little road trip, knowing everything else would fall into place, and that we’d have fun planning it on the fly.  We arrived on Saturday afternoon, checked in, and headed into the village of LaJolla.  We put the tiny humans into their double stroller and just walked around; and while we didn’t have any grand plans, we had a fantastic time.  The highlight of our afternoon? Settling into a cozy little Italian place  for dinner with the kiddos.  They had a giant kid’s menu, a stellar wine by the glass selection for handsome husband and I (we got some beautifully dry Chianti to accompany our homemade gnocchi–be still my heart!!) , and several Italian grandmotherly types who couldn’t wait to dote on our wee ones. We left with full bellies and warm hearts. Perfect.

The next morning, after leisurely showers (aided by a dose of SpongeBob Squarepants on the hotel room tv), we headed back into town where we grabbed excellent strolling around coffees from The Coffee Cup and snagged a brunch table across the street at Whisknladle.   Sophie contentedly nibbled on a sandwich of local cheese and housemade bread while my handsome husband and I sipped Cucumber Honey Mimosas and enjoyed savory rosemary sourdough toast with the chef’s raspberry apple preserves, Chilequiles, and potato pancakes.  Heavenly.

We spent the rest of our day walking the beach boardwalk, chatting with other parents of small children (one two year old boy tried to show Sophie his dance moves–she wanted NOTHING to do with it) getting some sun, buying an Italian design book from a slightly crusty used bookstore, grabbing a smoothie, and basically being lazy, unfettered and alive.

No, this was not a month long jaunt to New Zealand, a tour of Europe or an epic ski trip to Vail.  And while we do plan on taking a “real” vacation this year, I think we’ll be taking many more of these daycations.  There’s a simplicity to them that can’t be matched–they always bring our family a little closer, and for that, I am eminently thankful.

My favorite part of these little trips?  The drive home.  There’s a point on the way back to Phoenix in which the kiddos give in to sleep and we have the car, the moon and the road to ourselves.  It is in these quiet moments, serenaded by the sweet sounds of our children’s breath, that my handsome husband and I do our best daydreaming. We talk about where we want to be in 3, 5, 10 years.  We rhapsodize about adventures we’ll have as a family and as eventual empty-nesters.  We crack jokes (fast and furious, like an episode of 30 Rock or something), we thank each other for being the perfect partners and parents, and we declare our undying love for one another.  If that’s not a vacation, a departure of sorts, I don’t know what is.

Do you Daycation?

We’re still new-ish to the West Coast–we’d love to know where you take your family for quick weekend trips!



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