Many families invest a great deal of time and money planning their vacation, only to come home with memories dominated by dirty hotels and lost luggage. On the other hand, your hometown has restaurants, museums, and activities you never have time to explore on the weekends when life gets in the way. With the same amount of planning and half the budget, your family can enjoy a staycation at home.
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Cheap Lodging Ideas
If you coordinate your staycation with another family, you can switch dwellings for a twist on the cheap vacation rental. This is ideal if you live in a large city that features different attractions on the far side of town. Switch homes with friends in a distant suburb, and you’ll be close to dining and entertainment options you usually wouldn’t get to enjoy.
Camping used to be one of the most economical ways to take a family vacation, but high fuel prices have changed that. Your family doesn’t need to travel hundreds of miles to experience a camping adventure. The campground at the outskirts of town may feature a lake and scenery that rivals a campsite hundreds of miles away. Camping in your backyard is a great way to introduce your youngest children to sleeping outdoors with the child’s bed nearby if the experience proves too overwhelming.
Don’t return to the same stale mall or shopping plaza you’re familiar with during your staycation. Discover a new favorite shop in your town by doing a quick google search for your favorite sport or hobby. Pick a local business instead of a chain, and support small businesses in your community.
You can combine shopping with entertainment by taking your family to an auction. Check the want ads in your local newspaper for a listing of auction houses and upcoming sales. Once your family makes sense of the auctioneer’s chant, you may find yourself bidding on anything from vintage toys to artwork or furniture.
Antique shopping is another option. Find local antique malls within driving distance of your home. You explore a new part of your area and maybe score some awesome deals.
Dining out is a central part of taking a vacation, and when you vacation at home, you can devote a more significant part of your budget to visiting restaurants that you don’t usually go to. Have a simple breakfast at home, so you can splurge on your favorite sandwich shop or ice cream parlor at lunch.
At dinner, look for restaurants that combine dining and entertainment. Some restaurant concepts combine dinner with music, theater, or animated figures that make you feel you’ve traveled to another time and place.
Free or Cheap Entertainment
Major holidays are the best time to plan a staycation. Not only does your family avoid paying premium holiday lodging rates, but most communities plan festivals and events to coincide with holidays. Check your newspaper to find free outdoor concerts, county fairs, or art exhibits happening around town.
Be sure to include an outdoor component to your staycation, no matter the weather. Consider public pools and local nature trails in the summer. In the winter, visit an outdoor ice skating rink, or go to the zoo to watch the animals get frisky in cooler temperatures.
When you save money on accommodations by using your home as lodging, you have extra money to take day trips on your staycation. Treat these short trips as last minute travel opportunities, as you can quickly shift your plans if illness or some other unforeseen problem interferes. Contact your local travel and tourism division for some day trip ideas, and ask for a visitor’s guide or trip planner.
When you plan a staycation for your family, you can dedicate a more significant part of your travel budget to shopping, dining out, entertainment, and day trips. Realize the savings that come from being a tourist in your hometown, and create a wealth of staycation memories with your family this year.