It’s a Staycation for us this year!

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The home-based vacation — aka “staycation” — can be a great alternative to an expensive trip, assuming you plan it well and really treat it as a true vacation. This is our year for it with impending braces for our oldest, gas prices increasing and air travel costs rising. The falling dollar makes even cross-border travel less appealing.

The big savings from a Staycation are transportation costs and lodging, but there are others.

Even if you want to eat out every day, you can limit that to one meal and still save lots on the food budget. We like to eat out for brunch, it is often great value at many good restaurants and you usually eat so much that it carries you through to dinner.

The real obstacle is psychological. We have been conditioned to think a vacation means travel and expensive vacations help us keep up with the neighbors. Don’t get caught up in that and finish this summer without a pile of vacation debt, you’ll have peace of mind and a head start on great trip — next year.

The following staycation strategies can help make your Staycation a truly  relaxing break rather than a wasted week.

Here’s How:

Prepare before you start. First, treat the Staycation as a real vacation, not just a poor alternative. Do all the chores ahead of time so you don’t feel compelled to do them during your holiday. Pay the bills, mow the lawn and do the other chores you’d finish before leaving on a trip. Get everyone to pitch in. In fact, when on your Staycation, all but the most essential chores should be avoided. One of the biggest threats to your leisure time is chores around the house.  …”Absolutely DO NOT – this is a vacation!

Divide up the essential daily chores during your Staycation. There may be practical reasons that Mom or Dad is the chief cook and bottle washer, but they need a break too.  Mix up the meal chores so that everyone gets a break from their daily duties.  Assign everyone a night for cooking, with an assistant, where they are responsible for the selection of the meal and the preparation.  Clean-up should rotate with the cooks.  Pre-plan a few of these meals, so that you are not running out mid-week for groceries and don’t forget to include a few nights off of cooking for the resident chef.

Turn Off The Phone And The Computer. One mistake that many people make is to respond to phone and email which can suck the whole morning or even the whole day of your time while your family waits for you to be available.  Once you set this precedent, work expects it of you (since you are in town) and will continue to ask you for every little thing that pops up. To truly enjoy your time off, stop being ‘on call,’.  Check your messages each night if you want to….but remember this is your time off and you need to treat it preciously.

Try something new. Play ‘hometown tourist,’ and enjoy the fun things that your city (or surrounding areas) have to offer. Some towns and cities have programs such as Tourist in your own Town, which offer discounts to residents for local attractions and restaurants.  Check with the local tourism bureau and the chamber of commerce to plan your staycation.

Don’t overplan your staycation. As you plan to indulge in hometown fun, remember to schedule in some ‘down time’ to read, relax, sleep in, and do all the things people really like to do on traditional vacations. The idea is to feel like you’ve really gotten a break, so be sure you get one.

Don’t Be Afraid To Splurge. Because you’re saving money by staying close to home, you can (and should) eat meals out and splurge in other areas, just like you would on a traditional vacation. Set a realistic budget (less than you would spend on traveling but more than you normally do at home) that you can have fun with and feel like you have enjoyed the time off and created special family memories. It will make all the difference between feeling like you had a holiday or just a week hanging around the house.

Here are a few Staycation Ideas That Won’t Break The Bank

With The Kids:

Go on a family cycling adventure. You don’t have to be an avid (or experienced) biker to have a blast. For a safer adventure traverse local bike trails instead of hitting the streets.

Have a picnic. Pack a basket and head to your local park for a fun, easy outdoor meal. Go fly a kite. Pack a kite or two with your picnic supplies and head to your favorite park for some family fun.

Spend time at the local pool or rivers, lakes or at the ocean, if you are lucky enough to live on the coast. We can ride our bikes to the town pool when it opens at noon, spend an hour or two before it gets crowded, then go back in the evening when the mob scene is winding down. In fact, we found the pool is pretty nice during August, with so many people away.

Free Park activities. Our little town has lots of free tennis courts and bike and hiking trails. There are lovely parks nearby for kayaking, canoeing, sailing and fishing.

Plant a family garden. Go Green. Share your passion for gardening with your kids and teach them responsibility and patience.

Have a field day. Rediscover freeze tag, red rover, and other games you used to play as a kid.

Plan a TV night. Whether you’re a sucker for sitcoms or made-for-TV movies, a small screen event is the perfect occasion for a rainy day activity.

Help your kids join a summer book club. Cultivate your child’s creativity and love of reading with a trip to the local library where you can register for summer reading club in many areas and the kids can wid prizes and participate in fun days as they fill out their reading logs.

Throw a Hawaiian luau or a Mexican patio party. Transport your kids and their friends to the Hawaiian Islands or Mexico with a tropical celebration, complete with invitation, decoration, and food.

For Adults:

Plan a Night Out: Girls Night Out, Boys Night Out or Date Night. Any of these can be thrown into the Staycation mix.  Assemble a few friends or other couples for some well-deserved adult time.  Get a babysitter for the kids or leave them with family; a few dvds, some popcorn and drinks and everyone is happy.

Turn your home into a spa. You don’t need to go to a pricey spa to rejuvenate your body and spirit. Create your own spa at home instead — you’ll feel refreshed and save money.

Have A Toga Party. A throw-back to College days and warm summer weather make this party great summer fun for Moms and dads. Dress up, invite lots of friends with food to share, decorate with lots of mini-Christmas lights and enjoy the festivities.


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