Staycation Starbuck Style

This last week we had planned to take our annual camping trip, but we ended up with a very wet forecast. We decided to postpone our camping trip and instead have a staycation at home. A few months ago in the Family Fun magazine I had seen some ideas for family vacations on a budget. The idea behind  a staycation is to “stay” close to home and take advantage of the fun things right in our own little neck of the woods-museums, libraries, small day trips, things along those lines.  With a little creative brain power the Starbuck staycation was born. I must say, if I would have thought that the kids would have praised it so high I would have done it years ago.  There really is nothing like hearing your kids say, “This is so fun, how did you guys get so cool!”  to bolster our precious parent egos now and then.

We sent the kids an itinerary in the mail from Starbuck Travel that had pretend plane tickets for each person for every part of the trip as well as instructions on what to wear and bring with them. They were to meet Thursday morning in the Starbuck Travel Lobby to start their trip. We chose a theme for this staycation of “Around the World in 80 hours”.

On Thursday morning everyone met with their suitcases in hand. We had a little craft time and made passports for each person to have to keep track of the countries they visited. Each plane ride we would staple the ticket to that page, and they would get a date stamp and some sort of sticker that represented that country. There was also a space to write a bit of journaling after visiting each country. We let the kids dress up for their passport pictures,and that had so much fun. Aaron and I took our pictures too, but decided those would be better kept in the digital camera computer vault. There’s a reason you show your passport to strangers that you’ll most likely never see again.  Just imagine French berets, floppy sun hats, funny face glasses, the works.


Brianna       AustinBrookeErikaAbbyScott


Mexico was the first country we visited. We had the dining room made up like the airplane for the staycation, with peanuts and drinks readily accessible, and we watched clips of movies on the plane rides. Mexico’s movie was Bob the Builder in Spanish.  After a short plane ride, we took the kids to their hotel room (their room, just transformed a bit). Room 1234 was decked out with fluffy towels, trial size accessories, and even a little chocolate mint on their pillows. We went out to eat at Taco Bell for lunch, ate churros, and played indoor soccer. When we got back from playing soccer, the kids ordered room service from their hotel room from the cell phone. They got to eat nachos in their room and watch a movie on the portable DVD player in there-both of which they are never allowed  to do, so they thought that was so cool. Daddy and Scott enjoyed the best part of visiting Mexico, taking a siesta on the couch.


That night we took a flight to Hawaii.  We ate at a Hawaiian Luau having Hawaiian haystacks, pineapple, smoothies, and we even got a coconut to try. We had a limbo contest, and enjoyed festive Hawaiian music in the background. When I went to buy the coconut, the cashier asked if I had bought a lime to go with it. A little confused I said no I hadn’t. He then proceeded to sing to me this whole song “The Lime in the coconut”. It became our theme song for the whole vacation after that. It didn’t matter what country we were in, someone would inevitably start singing it and then we would all sing it and the laughter would begin. The answer to any problem became, “Just put a lime in the coconut!”

Each morning  the kids got to fill out breakfast request papers in their room. They circled the items they wanted-main entree, drink, and fruit, and then took them to the hotel staff to fill. This morning they each got their own mini box of cereal with a little toy in it. This was a big hit with them. 25 cent toys go a long way when they are paired with a mini box of cereal and ordered via room service.

Hawaii on planeHawaii luau


The trip to Antarctica was a short trip to pick up a special package. In their hotel room we had a new snow cone maker. The idea was to enjoy a nice cool treat before heading off to the hot lands of Africa, but it ended up being broken, so we just had to imagine that part. You get what you pay for-lesson learned.


Our African adventure for the day was a trip to the Pine Mountain Animal Safari Park. In the last few years of living here we had yet to go visit it, and this turned out to be the perfect occasion. It was so much fun. They had a smaller walk through part to see some of the caged animals, and then a drive through part to see the bigger animals.

   Family picture blog

Brianna aligator

Erika Safari hat blogScott looking out window blog Austin looking out bus window blog

We walked through and saw the monkeys, black bears, alligators, peacocks, baby pigs, and ligers-half lion/half tiger. We were feeling a bit Napoleon Dynamite at that point. After that, we boarded a zebra striped bus to take the tour of the wild safari animals. We bought bags of food to feed them, and were prepared to be slobbered on. We were at the front of the bus, which turned out to be a great location. The driver would tell us all sorts of tricks to get the animals to eat out of our hands. The kids were in heaven. The got to feed giraffes, ostriches, huge bull type animals (I don’t remember their official  names), zebras, deer of all sorts, pigs, an elk, llamas, and a camel.

Giraffe blog Ostrich blog  Turtle blog

The driver told us to put the food on the edge of the window ledge and the ostriches would come and eat it off. They came and stuck their heads in the window looking for the food and then would quickly knock it off the window to eat. The were so tall! We were in the bus and in this picture they are right up to the window. I don’t know why, but I think I had imagined them smaller. Seeing one up close is so different than from far off.

Cow horns blogCow nose blog  Cow tongue eating blog

Cow tongue blog

Check out this tongue!! This was some sort of bull animal, and man could that thing slobber. We would put the food on the window for him and he would use his long curly tongue to scoop it in his mouth. The kids thought it was so funny because he  kept sticking his tongue up his nose. So gross! 

Elk mouth blog

The kids got to hand feed this elk. Abby was right there putting her hands in his mouth! I was so surprised that all of the kids were so eager to feed the animals. I thought for sure we might have one or two that would be too scared or think it was too gross. We also got to pet the elk’s antlers which were soft and furry, not rough like I thought they might be.

Rhino blog

 Zebra blog

This baby zebra was born just last week, and the driver said he had  taken his first steps the day before. We were able to wait for a while trying to get him to stand again and walk over by us. He finally did, and the kids were ooing and ahhing over him the whole time.

Austin holding Scott blog

And my little baby that we are always oohing and ahhing over too!


We rounded out the day with a trip to China that night. We ate Chinese take out sitting on pillows around the coffee table. We tried eating with chopsticks, and all eventually ended up using forks. We all had fun trying it out though. We had fortune cooking and pocky sticks while watching our traditional Friday night movie.


The great thing about staycations is that really there is no strict schedule. If you want to miss the plane and sleep in, then by all means do so. We had a late start Saturday morning, but after yummy muffins for breakfast we made our way to England. We explored the great literature of England by attending the summer reading kick off at the local library. They had popcorn and drinks, fun games for the kids, blowups to jump on, and we all left with an armful of books to start our summer off right.

We returned home to have our 4 o’clock tea. Brooke, Erika, and Abby served us at their tea party complete with little sandwiches, fruit and cheese on toothpicks, and tiny little cakes for desert. We all said darling and had to eat with our pinkies up. So much fun.


An afternoon in Greece, the birthplace of the Olympics, had us swimming in a not-quite-so-Olympic size pool. The weather was great, and the kids had fun with their friends who just happened to be touring Greece the same day as us.  I wished I had brought my camera to the pool, Scott was having so much fun just sitting in the water splashing. I have vowed to be better about always bringing my camera everywhere we go now.

Rhode Island, USA

In route back home we made a pit stop in Rhode Island for some great sea food. We had crab sandwiches and then caught the next flight home.

I was glad that we made the effort to do this. We all had such a fun time. At first Erika wasn’t getting the whole idea, and was saying, “You mean we aren’t really going on a plane? We are just going to be here? That’s not any fun.” By the end of our staycation though, everyone was a little sad to have to come home. No more room service, no more maid service, and I guess we’ll have to stop eating out for a little while, which I think we are all okay with too. Home Sweet Home.


The Soto Crew said...

this is going in my book of ideas!! That is awesome! I can't wait to do it.

Libby said...

We've been debating the staycation idea, but you've taken it to a whole new level. You are honestly amazing, Monae. I love this!

Shillig 1 said...

My goodness, this is a fantastic idea. I'm going to borrow it ok. You & Lisa always have GREAT ideas!

The Simon Family said...

So clever and what wonderful memories you're making for your family! Thanks for sharing Monae!!!

Lisa said...

I love all the details. How did you guys get so cool? What memories!!