To save a little money on your vacation this summer, consider spending some of your time off on a staycation, a vacation that you take right in your own home town.
It can be just a few days long to a week or longer, it’s up to you.
The trick to making any Staycation exciting is to have each day be different from the day before, and most importantly, having all days be different from what you usually do.
Here are ways to have lots of fun and save without traveling miles from home.
Plan an outing a day. Scheduling a day trip can give everyone something to really look forward to. Visit an amusement park, the water park, the beach or another venue you typically don’t have the time to enjoy.
Take day trips to nearby cities or vacation spots, and do all the touristy things that everyone else is doing there.
Get unplugged. Turn off the phone and the emails, disconnect from the office, don’t run errands, be as unavailable as you would be if you were thousands of miles away in a jungle.
Enjoy good food. Eat at least one meal a day in a restaurant, preferably one you haven’t tried before.
For the rest of the meals, take it nice and easy: gather menus from local takeouts, so you’ll have them handy for ordering in.
Stock the fridge with precooked meals or easy to assemble ingredients, or even cook ahead so you can just pop meals into the oven or onto the grill right from the freezer.
Don’t forget the paper plates and plastic glasses and utensils for easy cleanup. A staycation should be a break for everyone and an easy way to save money.
Take time for luxury. Enjoy a spa day – get pampered and massaged and thoroughly spoiled.
Even a day at the beauty salon, getting hair, nails and feet done will be relaxing if you have nowhere else you have to be.
Be spontaneous – visit a toy store or a hobby shop and pick out something that would be fun to do together.
Go fly a kite, build a model airplane, buy a butterfly net and run through the fields.
Working a jigsaw puzzle can be an enjoyable interlude that you never seem to have time for in your daily life.
Do everyday things you don’t usually do. When was the last time your family went to the movies? You are on vacation, so treat yourself and don’t forget the popcorn.
Even an evening at the bowling alley can be fun for the whole family. And if lying on a beach reading a book is your idea of fun, find a nearby body of water such as a lake and gather up your books and a picnic lunch from an exotic deli for a relaxing day.
Go sightseeing. Google “Things to do in [insert your home town here]” and you might be surprised at what pops up that’s right in your own back yard.
Take a ride to the Visitor Center (I’ll bet you’ve never been) and gather some brochures about fun things to do around town. Ask the person behind the desk what local activities and sights she recommends.
Shake things up. There may be an amusement park or a water slide nearby, or how about skydiving at a nearby airport?
It’s probably no more expensive than staying in a hotel would have been if you were traveling, so if you haven’t done it because of the expense, this is the time. Paintball or Laser Tag, anyone?
What about a hot air balloon ride or a horseback ride? Most communities have opportunities for these activities and many, many more.
Visit nature. If you like to camp, there’s plenty of opportunity all around you.
If you don’t like to camp but your family does, compromise on setting up a tent in the backyard, or getting together with friends for a joint campout with them in their backyard.
Take lots of pictures on your vacation, and be sure to smile a lot. Sing silly songs the whole family can enjoy. Even a trip to an ice cream shop will contribute to a vacation to remember.
And finally, when you “return” from your Staycation, don’t let the warm glow fade.
You’ve learned a lot about your community and activities your family enjoys, so make notes about what you’d like to do again and activities you didn’t have time for this time around, and schedule them on weekends throughout the year.
Make this the Staycation that never ends.