Summer is usually time when families plan their annual vacations. When the kids are home from school, parents can take a week or two off from work and enjoy the summer weather as a family.
But vacations can be expensive. Not everyone is in a position financially to take a trip with the whole family, even if they can get the time off from work. In that case, a more wallet-friendly holiday plan is in order.
Plan a “staycation”, or vacation where you don’t actually leave home, to get rested and refreshed without breaking the bank.
Reasons to plan a staycation:
Recovering from financial setbacks: maybe you recently had some unexpected auto or home repairs that caused you to dip into your emergency fund. Or even worse, a medical crisis that cost you some income or made you spend a lot on health care. In this case, you still need the break that comes with a vacation, but can’t come up with the money without borrowing. A staycation could be the answer.
Saving up for a bigger trip: maybe you want to go somewhere really special (and expensive) next year or the year after. Make this year’s vacation a staycation so you can save up extra funds for that bigger trip next summer.
No need for pet-sitters or babysitters: if you’re going out of town and leaving behind a family pet, you’ll incur boarding expenses or need to get someone to come by every day to feed your pets, water your plants and make sure everything’s okay. If you have a young child who is too small to go on your trip, you’ll probably be constantly stressed out and checking in with the babysitter every five minutes. A staycation lets you stay with the ones in your life who can’t take care of themselves.
Mobility issues: if you did have some kind of medical situation, it might prevent you from being able to travel. If you or someone in the family is recuperating, a staycation will turn a time of convalescence into recreational time for the whole family.
Avoid the stress of vacation planning: getting ready for a trip involves a lot of work. You might spend months leading up to the vacation buying flights, booking hotel rooms, shopping for travel supplies, and planning itineraries. If you’re working that hard just to plan to take a break, you’ll spend the whole vacation recuperating from the stress of planning the trip itself. A staycation cuts out the hassle and lets you get straight to relaxing without the need to do so much advance planning.
Building a new way of life: the things you do on your staycation will be close to home, so they might not end up being things you only do when you’ve got extended time off. If you go hiking one day at a nearby national park and love it, you might make that a regular monthly activity that enriches your life. A staycation activity might just become a regular lifetime hobby instead of a one-time trip to an exotic destination.
Including more friends and family: you might not relish the idea of going on an extended trip with a large extended network of family and friends, but one big gathering during your staycation would be nice way to reconnect with everyone in person instead of just checking in on social media. Even the closest of families can get on each other’s nerves while staying in a cabin or resort together over the course of a week or more, but during a staycation, you can all get together and everyone can still go home to their own bed at the end of the day.
Other benefits: it’s not hard to come up with other reasons to take a staycation. While our primary reasons to recommend vacationing at home are financial, there are plenty of good reasons to vacation right from where you live:
- Sustainability: not flying on jets or driving across the country leaves a much smaller carbon footprint.
- Economics: you’ll be supporting your local economy with your carefully budgeted vacation spending.
- Local flavor: it’s important to take some time to learn about your local area, and see all of the things it has to offer.
- Safety: staying home is the safest way to travel! We’re not saying you should never go anywhere, but a staycation is always going to be safer than travelling.
- Time: you won’t have to sit around an airport or train station during a staycation. Vacationing from home means doing everything on your timetable, and no one else’s.
Ideas for Staycations
Once you’ve committed to staying at home during your next vacation, what’s the plan? There are lots of ways to fill up those days off during a staycation:
Go big with a family meal. Vacations usually involve going out to fancy (and pricy) dinners at fine restaurants. During your staycation, plan at least one extravagant meal at home. Get a new cookbook or watch some YouTube videos to come up with a meal idea you’ve never tried before. And use the time spent shopping for local ingredients to experience new things—find a local farmer’s market you’ve never tried before and buy all freshly-harvested vegetables.
Read! Take the whole family to the bookstore or library and have everyone get a book to read during their vacation. You don’t have to be sitting on a beach to enjoy a summer book, and it will help reinforce your kids’ schooling to get them to read during their months off.
Game night. Check out boardgamegeek.com or visit a FLGS (“Friendly Local Game Store”) near you and get a board game for the whole family. Talk to the staff at the store about what kind of game your family might enjoy. Remember the “F” stands for friendly, and they’ll be delighted to make recommendations.
Get active. If you have hiking destinations near you, take a day to enjoy the great outdoors. Or take your entire family for a sporting activity—anything from bowling to water polo is a good way to get everyone moving while staying on budget.
Take a class. Get the family together for a class that will involve a fun activity. An art class, like pottery or painting, will let everyone get creative and have something to show for their efforts. Or get everyone together for a photography class—you probably all have smartphones with cameras in your pocket, why not learn to take better pictures with them?
Take some tours. You may have many local businesses that offer tours—breweries, wineries, farms or factories often offer a tour of the facilities. Local historical sites and destinations will usually offer tours as well.
Get cultured. If you have local art galleries or theatres you’ve never visited, try to get some culture during your staycation. Seeing a play or musical together is a great shared live experience for the family. You could even visit a revival house movie theater if you’ve got one in your area—but make it special, not just another trip to the movies.
Fix up the house. Don’t let your vacation turn into work, but you may have a DIY project that can enhance your home and create a relaxing environment. Fixing up the back yard, deck or patio to create a place for BBQs or hanging out might be a fun activity—provided the project gets done in time to use this new space during the vacation. Or think about fixing up an interior room for recreation—converting the basement into a home theatre might give you a space you’ll be able to use as long as you live in the house.
Arts & Crafts. Gather the whole family and do some kind of crafting together. If you knit or make scrapbooks, get everyone involved and plan to finish a project together during your time off. Or learn a new craft together, as long as it’s one that is wallet-friendly.
Day trips. Do a search for “day trips from [your city]” and see what ideas come up that you might not have thought of. Find something you can drive to and still get back home from on the same day. No matter where you are, there are likely a dozen day trip destinations near you.
Staycations can be fun, relaxing and wallet-friendly. Take some time off without adding to your debt load or putting everyone in the family through a trying travel expedition.
If you’ve already gotten into debt through vacation or other spending, help is available. Get personalized debt coaching that is professional, confidential, and a tailored to your unique situation.