Summer is here and that means a lot of families will be taking vacations. Many of the folks I’ve talked to, though, have said they’re likely doing close-to-home roadtrips or staycations this year due to the economy. I thought I would share with you all some ideas for vacationing close to home.
This week’s ideas will be as close to home as you can get – your own backyard! You could also have them in your family room if the weather doesn’t cooperate or if you don’t have a backyard (or if you’re not a fan of bugs!).
Today’s idea is for a Backyard Hawaiian Trip and Luau!
Enjoy the tropical Hawaiian vibe in your own backyard. Spend the morning inside getting everyone excited about the “trip” to Hawaii. Talk about what they might see and do in Hawaii. If you have the chance pick up some travel guides from the library (or Hawaiian travel brochures from a travel agency or request free ones online). Then let the kiddos pack their suitcases. Be sure to include sunscreen, a disposable camera, sun hat, bathing suit, PJs, and maybe a favorite toy.
While they are packing you (or spouse or other vacation companion) can sneak outside and get set up. You’ll want to have gathered all your supplies the day or so before. Set up a small kiddie pool in one corner of the yard (you can find fairly inexpensive ones at most big box stores). If you happen to have a sandbox, place the pool near it. You now have a beach! In an opposite corner of the yard set up your tents. Scatter some tiki torches and paper lanterns around the yard. Set up a picnic table or blanket for your Hawaiian feast later, then place a stack of leis just outside the door (grass skirts would also make a nice addition; you can order both from Oriental Trading).
Once the kids are done packing and have had lunch, it’s time for vacation! As each person steps into the backyard, place a lei over their head and say Aloha! Show them to the “hotel” and let them drop off their suitcases. If you are going to hit the “beach” right away, give them a few minutes to change into their swimsuits.
During the afternoon you can swim, play on the beach, learn how to do hula dances (this is where the grass skirts would come into play), and have art time where everyone can draw a picture of their trip. For snack time, serve tropical fruits like pineapple, coconut, mangoes, etc. or even beef jerky (from when sailors from the west brought salt beef). Serving suggestion: cut a pineapple in half and core out the fruit. Fill the pineapple “bowl” with your cut-up fruit and sprinkle shredded coconut on top.
When it comes time for dinner, first light the tiki torches! Consider serving a meal with foods you might find at a luau feast. Depending on the taste buds of your little travelers you might grill or bake pork chops, pork loin, or ribs; serve salmon, mahi mahi, or other fish; roast a chicken or make beef teriyaki. For sides you could serve rice, sweet potatoes, salad with poppy seed dressing garnished with Mandarin orange, or steamed veggies. Dessert might include pineapple, DIY sundaes with shredded coconut as a topping, chocolate “lava” cakes, or whatever your family enjoys.
After dinner break out the portable DVD player (or laptop, TV & DVD player, or projector) and watch Lilo & Stitch or any other movie or show set in Hawaii that your family enjoys (reruns of Magnum PI, anyone?). Fruit smoothies would be a nice movie-watching treat (even more special if you serve them in coconuts!).
After the movie it’s probably time for bed. If you’re camping out in the backyard a few books read by flashlight is a fun way to wind down for sleep. The next morning, granola bars are a quick and easy breakfast before packing up suitcases for the “flight” home.
Be sure to take lots of pictures – and let the kiddos take lots of their own, too. Once you’ve had a chance to develop them or print them out from your video card, you can spend the weekend putting together a scrapbook of your family’s trip.
Want to make your trip even more special? Print out some boarding passes for their “flight”. You can use my templates or make some of your own (click the image for a printable version).