The Do’s and Don’ts of Plotting Your Moochcation

If you’ve been a regular reader of my blog for several years, you will be familiar with the term “moochcation.” If you haven’t been a regular reader, you can probably use context clues to infer the definition (Pardon me, former English teacher voice coming out), but if you flunked 9th grade Language Arts (Don’t worry, former Lake Mills students, I won’t name names), let me help you out.

A “moochcation” is a type of vacation one takes when money is tight, much like a “staycation.” However on a moochcation, instead of saving money by staying close to home, one saves money by mooching off friends and family. Hence, “moochcation.”

Now, since I’m pretty sure I coined the phrase “moochcation,” I also get to make up the rules for taking a moochcation. So here we go:


  1. Do choose a destination at least two hours from home. And if you can manage to cross the state line, even better. Anything over two hours is guaranteed to feel like “forEVER” to your kids, and making it into the next state will sound good when they have to write that “What I did this summer” essay that is meant to guilt parents into making sure they do at least one SUPER COOL thing with their kids over summer break.
    A couple weeks ago we drove to Rochester, Minnesota, about three hours away (AND we crossed the state line—bonus!). We stayed with Husband’s sister and her family for six days.
  2. Do take advantage of work or other travel commitments. Don’t rule out taking your family along just because it’s not a regular “tourist destination.” Sure, they’d love to go with you to your conference in Orlando, but you can find plenty of things to do in Osh Kosh, Wisconsin, too.
    We had to travel in Rochester with our son por a week’s worth of therapy at Mayo Clinic. Since Husband is home for the summer, I am currently of the unemployed persuasion and we couldn’t afford any other vacation to speak of, we decided to all trek up there and make the most of the week. Even though Boy #2 had to go to treatments twice a day, we tried to make the most of the rest of the time for him and the other two.
  3. Do pack some goodies. Whenever we’d go on vacation when I was growing up, we couldn’t wait to get on the road because that’s when we could open the Styrofoam cooler that my mom transformed into our “treasure chest,” full of all kinds of crap that was only in the budget on vacations: gummy bears, Chicken in a Bisket crackers, magazines, crossword puzzle books and other “extras” that were intended to help make the trip in the big brown conversion van more enjoyable.

    road trip snacks
    Our Treasure Chest
  1. Do make the most of where you are. Take advantage of being away from home to try local eateries or chains that haven’t taken root in your area. We tried 5 Guys Burgers one evening. Yumm-o!
  1. Do put aside your preconceptions. And your allergies. Keep an open mind, especially while you’re imposing on someone else’s home.
    Husband is allergic to cats, and generally can’t stand them … or so he says. Witness how he put aside disdain, popped some Claritin, and made friends with Midge. Hee hee.

    It appears that Husband and Midge have come to some kind of understanding…
  2. Do try something new.Especially if your hosts are insisting. Not only did I try Polish vodka, but I also agreed to sit through a horror movie after the kids went to bed one night. Granted, I made Husband go to the bathroom with me after “Insidious” was over, but still, I watched it, the whole thing.

    Notice how my mouth is barely even open…I’m such a drinker!


  1. Don’t friend someone on Facebook for the sole purpose of springing a moochcation on them. Yes, even if you heard they have an amazing condo on Daytona Beach. That definitely will grant you a “Dislike.”
  2. Don’t overwhelm your hosts. Plan to do some things with and without your hosts. Take their kids for the day. Pitch in with meals. Especially if they’re working while you’re staying there, pick up after yourselves and go the extra mile to show your appreciation.
    We picked up my niece and nephew from daycare a few times, and was that ever an adventure. I’m not sure how families with more than three kids do it. Trying to get five kids ages 4-13 to order ice cream at Flapdoodles? Getting out of there without wearing an armor of stickiness? Not an easy task.

    ice cream cone
    Yeah, check out that huge blob of ice cream tottering on the top of that skinny cone. You can probably imagine how this ended.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask for the “spa package.”My sister-in-law gave all of us pedicures. No, we didn’t ask for them, that’s just the kind of girl she is. I can’t say I would’ve touched all of our feet, but she jumped in like a trooper. That’s a full-service moochcation!

    Boy #1 was a wee bit ticklish during his pedicure…
  4. Don’t forget about parks and other free entertainment, especially if they aren’t places your kids have been to before.We had a picnic at Silver Lake Park in Rochester, and the kids had a great time playing on the huge playground. There was even a guy selling ice cream and giving away free balloon animals. The kids couldn’t get enough. Literally. We had to tell them to stop stalking the balloon man.

    balloon artist
    Step AWAY from the balloon man!


Nephew tried to take out the other kids on the playground with his bad-ass balloon.

5.  Don’t leave your children unattended in a room with a computer. Especially if they are searching for “cat  pictures.” Unless you would like to render your hosts’ computer useless except for dancing naked women that are burned into the screen. Just trust me on this one.

So there you have it, the Do’s and Don’ts of Plotting your very own Moochcation, based on years of experience.

What about you? Have you been on a moochcation lately? What advice can you give?




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