This post may contain affiliate links. We may earn a commission or direct payment, at no cost to you, if you purchase or sign up for anything through those links. Read our disclosure for more information.
As the weather grows warmer and the trees bloom, people emerge from their winter hibernation. With that comes the desire for travel and exploration. But if you’re living on a budget, far away destinations and all-inclusive resorts might not be an option.
What if you could enjoy leisurely downtime without breaking the bank? Embarking on a great escape with a staycation can make it happen.
Planning a staycation is an excellent alternative if you’re looking for fun without blowing your budget.
Whether you’re paying down debt, saving for a house, or just living a frugal life, here are some tips and tricks on how to plan a staycation for a wonderful trip without leaving your city limits.
Make a Plan
Every good staycation starts with a basic itinerary. It doesn’t need to be a spreadsheet jam packed with activity after activity, but having a general idea of what you want to do can make budgeting and planning easy.
Planning every moment of the day isn’t necessary. But having a good idea of activities and costs can make sure you stick with your budget.
Just like when saving money on a traditional vacation, a staycation can get pricey if you’re not careful. You’ll do well to focus on no- or low-cost activities.
To start, sit down and figure out what you want to get out of your staycation.
Is the goal to unwind and relax, soak up some culture and knowledge at local institutes? Or get outside and try something adventurous?
Another aspect to consider is the length of your staycation. Is it a weekend, or are you stretching the fun over a full week?
Planning can make sure you have a great time without going overboard.
Embrace Your Inner Tourist
I often hear people say “I’ve never explored my city and I’ve lived here for years.”
Falling into the routine of work/home/social life is easy. But every town has great gems to explore. Embrace the tourist in you and don’t be afraid to pull out the camera, strap on the fanny pack, and visit cool sites that have always been within twenty miles of your home.
With so many free things to do in every city, you can enjoy playing tourist while keeping the costs cheap.
Try looking up community calendars, state tourism websites, or check with your local library to find fun, free events within your city or town.
Cities, even smaller ones, are full of fun things to do, whether you want to try a delicious restaurant, tour the local vineyard, see great theater, or raise your adrenaline.
Those things can be pricey, and it pays to check discount sites like Groupon, Living Social or Pulsd (in some cities).
And don’t forget about getting deals on gift cards for restaurants, shops, or entertainment!
Sites like CardPool can help you get a great bargain on buying gift cards, saving you even more money.
Hotel or Homestay
The glorious thing about a staycation is you can don’t need to spend any money at all. While some people stay in hotels or spas in town, staying at home can keep more cash in your pocket.
If the weather is nice and you have access to a tent, setting it up in the backyard is a great way to unwind and relax without leaving the creature comforts such as a modern bathroom.
Another option is to set up or create a tent in your living room. While this idea is great if you have kids, it can be a nice way to spend a romantic evening without breaking the bank.
Grab a bunch of pillows and blankets and curl with some board games and wine.
Make it a Theme Staycation
One way to make a staycation fun is to tie in a theme. If there is a cool Paris exhibit happening at the local museum, a French-themed staycation is fitting. Adding French food and French films can make it extra special.
Or an adventure theme could lead you to break out the dusty bike from your garage and hit the trails with a packed picnic.
Staycations are a nice budget-friendly alternative to pricey vacations while still getting time off to relax and enjoy life.
Sometimes, the fear of missing out can kick in when you see friends and family galavanting through Europe, catching some rays in SoCal or hiking magnificent mountains. But with the right planning, a staycation can be just as fun.
And they often are much better since you can skip the stress of travel, language barriers, or high costs.
So grab your camera, turn off your work email, and relax knowing you’ll stay close to home, experience something new, and stick with your financial goals.