A recipe for a playcation

Still stuck at home with the kids, desperate for a change of scene? Uh-huh, us too. I’ve got two small children and we crave adventure! Just a weekend camping would do. So with all summer holiday plans likely dashed, we got creative.

We’ve been to Japan for a weekend, Canada for a day and we’re currently planning a trip to Sweden.

Here’s my recipe for taking your family wherever you like in the world, from the safety of your own home.



• A spoonful of imagination and sense of adventure
• Food inspired by your country of choice
• Activities inspired by your country of choice
• A handmade travel itinerary - optional but fun (and, dare we say it, educational!)
• A day or a weekend to immerse yourself in the food, activities and culture of your holiday from home


In advance

1. Choose a country. Using a map, digital or otherwise (hello secret geography lesson) decide where you’d like to go. You may end up with a long list, which is good because you have many weeks of summer holidays stretching ahead of you.

2. Make your holiday plans. Talk to friends and relatives who’ve been to, or live in, your holiday destination, or ask your internet search engine of choice (we recommend ecosia) and do a bit of pre-holiday research.
a. What is the national dish or dishes?
b. What are the tourist hot spots?
c. What museums and famous landmarks can you visit virtually?
d. Is there a national sport, traditional past-time or other key cultural activity?

3. Decide what you’ll make and eat (and for that true holiday feeling, splash out on a ready meal or two)

4. Choose some arts and crafts for kids (use pinterest for everyone’s craft ideas ever)

5. If they’re that way inclined, get the kids to make a travel itinerary for your trip and pick a weekend. The build up to it and planning is fun.

6. ‘Book’ your holiday home. Whilst you don’t need to spend any money on a holiday rental (wahoo!) you can tell the family that you’ve managed to find a place that is almost exactly the same as your place. If they’re in the right mood/age/disposition they will totally go with it.

7. Create a music playlist and earmark some books and movies from that country.

A recipe for a playcation

The night before

1. Prepare your home. Set the scene when the kids are in bed or ‘in transit’ (pretend your bed is a train/car/boat/plane and give them an audio book and a snack)
a. Make whatever small changes you can that give your place a different feel.
b. Rearrange furniture, houseplants, pictures.
c. Find a throw, sheet or large scarf that you’ve not seen or used in ages and cover the sofa with it.

2. Leave out a little collection of things that the ‘Airbnb hosts’ have left.
a. Take the eco approach and repurpose things you already own that may have been forgotten about; A random keyring that’s been kicking around your kitchen drawer for years, a ‘french’ apple, a book (that you already own) that’s related to your holiday destination, etc.

On the day

Immerse yourself! Shake off your inhibitions and let your imagination take over.

Encourage your family to explore your holiday rental. We made a little video diary tour of ours. “Look! The kids who live here even have the same books as us!”

When we ‘went’ to Japan we found our Airbnb place even had the same bikes as us, so we went on a bike ride. It’s amazing how much south London looks like Tokyo if you just go with it.

Then spend the day or the weekend enjoying your mini break:
• Watch movies inspired by your destination
• Let the kids help you prep holiday food
• Learn some traditional dances, crafts or sport
(And share your photos at #myabelandcole)

Whatever country you go to, we’ve probably got some rather delicious food to help set the scene, so take a look.


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