Family travel five: Virtual vacations at home

Tribune Content Agency

At home with the kids? If we can’t travel to a favorite hotel, resort, restaurant or ranch, we can always pretend. Here are five ways to create a virtual vacation in your own home.


1. Go Camping

Whether you set up a tent in the backyard or the bedroom, with a little imagination you can enjoy all the fun of a real camping trip without spending travel time! Create a campfire using flashlights under a towel or thin blanket. Listen to the sounds of your own backyard or create an alternate sound track featuring birds, waterfalls, streams or trees rustling via a music or meditation app. Tell stories around your campfire, sample s’mores, sing songs and plan for your next adventure.

Pro tip: REI offers advice for introducing kids to the outdoors through camping in your own yard and beyond.


2. Enjoy a Spa Day. (Or Week)

Channel the services of a famous resort spa and pamper yourselves at home.  Give family members the chance to reserve a manicure, masque, foot or head massage, a salt or sugar scrub, a relaxing soak or whichever services your creative minds concoct. Craft a soothing play list via your favorite music app, gather candles and supplies from your own beauty stash, your kitchen and you’re good to go!

Pro tips:


The Arawak Spa, at Belmond Cap Juluca on the Caribbean island of Anguilla, recommends a detoxifying soak to ease the tension of these stressful times.


Arawak Salt Soak



— 1/2 cup salts (Epsom, Pink Himalayan, Sea Salts)

— 1 cup baking soda (softens water)

— Essential oils if available in home (5-10 drops)

— Loose tea leaves


To make:

Combine ingredients in a mixing bowl. If possible, crush or grind the tea leaves to open up natural oils in the plant and allow it to mix well with the salts. Once combined, run a hot bath and add 3 tablespoons of the mixture to the water. Soak in the tub for 15 minutes.


Suggested blends:

Invigorating: peppermint or citrus oil /or tea leaves

Calming: Chamomile tea or oil, green tea loose leaves

Detoxifying: Rosemary Anise or Ginger /oil or tea leaves


The Lodge at Edgewood Tahoe suggests this post-winter scrub, which makes use of pine needles reported to be both antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory.


Alpine Mountain Scrub Recipe:

— 1 cup white sugar

— 1/2 cup coconut oil

— 1/4 cup olive oil

— 2 tablespoons freshly chopped pine needles (optional)

— 12 drops of essential oil (optional)


3. Play Restaurant

Take turns playing Executive Chef and encourage every member of the family to play a role. Plan for various theme nights that might include an island luau, a ranch cook-out, mountain meadow picnic fare, a safari sundowner or a Mexican fiesta. Encourage the kids to make their own menus, placemats and other décor. Choose music to suit the “destination.”


Pro tip: &BEYOND’s Wildchild Hub offers recipes, reading and activities to bring Africa home to your children.


4. Host a Happy Hour

Don’t let social distancing requirements keep you from staying in touch (virtually) with family and friends. Plan a “happy hour” video call and encourage the group to join you in a toast to future family travels.


Pro tip: Serve a kid-friendly mocktail like the one offered by restaurant  ZuZu in Scottsdale, Ariz.’s Hotel Valley Ho.


Tranquil Tonic


4 oz. blood orange juice

6 fresh raspberries

1/2 oz. simple syrup

3 oz. LaCroix grapefruit sparkling water



Combine the blood orange juice (regular orange juice also works well with this recipe if blood oranges are not available), simple syrup and raspberries in a shaker, then muddle. Strain and pour into a glass; top with LaCroix and garnish with an orange slice and a raspberry.


5. Your Fitness Center

Take turns leading a yoga or Pilates class. Choose from a wide variety of exercise classes available online.  Venture out for a fitness walk.  Consider taking the kids on a “bear hunt,” by walking through your neighborhood in search of teddy bears placed in the windows of neighboring homes. The idea of creating window-based scenes using teddy bears and rainbows is spreading around the world. If it hasn’t reached your area, perhaps you and your family can help expand the trend. #BearHunt.


Pro tip: Tara Cruz, senior spa director at Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown, recommends starting each day with simple stretches, breathing exercises and positive thoughts to stay healthy during challenging times.


(Lynn O’Rourke Hayes ( is an author, family travel expert and enthusiastic explorer. Gather more travel intel on Twitter @lohayes, Facebook, or via


©2020 Lynn O’Rourke Hayes

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