Using a Vacation Home for a Vacation

vacation_homeA new word added to our recession vocabulary is “staycation” which translates to “taking a vacation at home.” The word may be new but the concept isn’t. Vacation home owners have been taking staycations for years. Isn’t that the purposes of owning a second home? There is nothing disappointing or less fun about a vacation home staycation if done right.

This is our seventh summer owning our second home on Lake Barkley. During the summer, we are up here most weekends and at least one full week – a “vacation” week for me. For the past six summers, our vacation week has been when we invite extended family to the lake. We have been gratified by the response. Although the attendance varies, we have had as many as 23 family members join us for the week. This weekend marks the beginning of this summer’s “Family at the Lake VI.” We are here all week. Different family members will be arriving at different times, culminating with the full group being here for the long Independence Day weekend.

I think there are some things that baby boomer owners can do to improve the “vacation” experience at their vacation home.

1. ┬áComplete all Maintenance Items Ahead of Time. One of the aspects of conventional travel vacations that people look forward to is escaping the drudgery of home maintenance tasks. Vacation home owners don’t have that luxury. However, you can improve your vacation mindset by planning and working ahead so that during your designated vacation week, you are not doing yard work or other routine tasks. It’s your home but for that week, you try to pretend you are a visitor with no maintenance responsibilities.

2. Add Something Special to Your Home. Most vacation home owners are regularly thinking of things to add to their home that will improve the experience of using it. It could be a new piece of furniture. If your home is on a lake, it could be a new water toy. Your vacation at home will be extra special if you add that new item specifically for your vacation week. In other words, there is something new for you to enjoy. This summer, that new item for us is a deluxe grill which I brought up yesterday. It’s a huge upgrade from what we were using. It will get a lot of use.

3. Do Something Special During the Vacation Week. To make your week feel like a vacation, it helps to have an activity planned that you do not normally do when staying at your vacation home. The list of possibilities is long. For me, one of those activities is golf. I typically play golf once each year, during our Family at the Lake weeks. We have a great time even though most of us are terrible golfers. One year we took a group to a nearby water park which we had never done before. This year I hope to visit parts of the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area that I have not seen before.

4. Invite others to Join In. When your kids are grown and out of the house, taking week-long vacations with them like the old days is difficult. Spending a week at the lake with just your spouse is wonderful no matter when that happens. But to make it extra-special for a vacation, I highly recommend inviting extended family or friends to “vacation” with you. Spending time with special people at a special place adds uniqueness to the experience.

5. Record Your Vacation Memories. Most vacationers enjoy keeping a record of their experiences, e.g. photos, video and perhaps even a journal. I have tried very hard to do that for our Family at the Lake vacations. I take a lot of photos and some video. After the week ends, I compile them into a digital photo-story with music. More recently, I have created and published a special website that is focused exclusively on activities here at our lake house, and shared the site link with family members who have been here. The website acts as a visual and written history of our vacations here, just as if we had gone somewhere else. There are photos and videos from each vacation week, along with written commentary.

If you own or are planning to buy a vacation home, I hope you can take advantage of the “staycation” concept. Maybe these ideas will help.


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