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Vacation On A Budget: 6 Staycation Ideas To Help You Plan Cheap Vacations Near Home

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By Aimee

A lot of my friends are choosing to stay close to home for their vacations this summer — to save money and avoid hectic travel schedules, driving for long distances, and sitting in cramped airplane seats.

A staycation can be a more relaxing way to enjoy time away with family.

staycation at home

Following are some ways to plan an enjoyable and relaxing staycation that provides fun experiences for you and your family — without the stress of traveling to a far-away place.


True Story — My Staycation

Just last week, I planned a mid-week staycation that was very fun and refreshing!

We planned to stay close to home but still do some things — so it would feel like a true reprieve.

staycation zipline

  • We found an amusement park within 2 hours of home that didn’t charge admission (nor to park).
  • We researched online and found where to shop for discounted ride tickets and saved $10 by buying them at the store instead of onsite at the park.
  • I found a great mid-week rate and booked a hotel for 1 night. I saved money by booking a Wednesday night (as opposed to a weekend night).
  • I packed lunch, snacks, and drinks in a cooler, saving lots of money not eating full meals at the park.
  • We ordered a pizza and rented a movie on Netflix to round out a 2 day/2 night staycation.
  • I returned to work feeling refreshed and not overwhelmed — I was able to pick right up where I left off just 2 days before. If I can do it — you can too.

Okay, here are my 6 best staycation ideas to help you enjoy a fun vacation on a budget and make your family vacation time really count:


#1 – Plan Your Day

Even a staycation requires a bit of planning to ensure that you know where you are going, how to get there and what to expect when you arrive.

staycation planning

Take note of times of operation for attractions, entrance fees, parking availability and if there are some days when they are closed to the public. Avoid last minute expenses by planning what to bring.

Have a cooler for packing a lunch or snacks and any equipment for sports activities. Pack some travel games to entertain kids while in the car.


#2 – Change Your Schedule

A good way to ensure that you feel you are on vacation is to change your daily schedule.

You can also add some favorite movies to watch late into the night hours to make you feel your day is entirely different. You may prefer to play cards or board games into the night.


#3 – Schedule Some Relax Time

After enjoying your daytime activities, plan more relaxing activities for later in the day.

staycation rest

Catch up on your reading. Start a new hobby.

Avoid turning on the TV or computer. Try to add new experiences to your day to make it feel like a complete break from your normal routine.


#4 – Turn Off the Phones

I know I know — disconnecting from technology  seems very difficult, especially with kids!

However, turning off your electronics is recognized as an important way to de-stress your life and enjoy being present in the moment of your recreational activities.


#5 – Eat Out – Carry Out

Make your staycation a real vacation by avoiding the cooking and cleanup chores that are part of your everyday schedule.

staycation meals

Plan to eat out or bring home some carryout items at the end of the day. Eat off paper plates with plastic cutlery that you can throw out without worrying about washing dishes.


#6 – Research Your Local Options

You can enjoy a number of activities that are close to home or in nearby communities that offer fun and entertainment for family members of all ages:

  • Area Museums – Most cities or communities generally have museums that can be interesting and enjoyable for families.
  • Local State Parks – Most state parks offer hiking, biking, fishing, swimming, nature viewing, canoeing, kayaking and historical sites to entertain every member of the family.
  •  Amusement Parks or Water Parks – It’s likely there is an amusement park or water park within driving distance of your home, no matter where you live. Make a day of it and bring a picnic or plan to eat at the park’s concession stand.
  • Movie Theaters – Movie buffs can use staycation time to enjoy a marathon of catching up on new movies. Attending a matinee can also save you money.
  • Arcades – Big kids and little kids enjoy a stop at the video arcade, where they can try their skills at the latest games.
  • Swimming Pools – Your local public pool or YMCA may offer day rates that allow you to use the facility for an entire day of your staycation. Some communities also have private pools that may offer special rates for non-members during the summer months.
  • Sports Activities – If your city has a baseball team, going to a game can be a fun activity for the whole family.
  • Stargazing – If you have a planetarium in your community, you and your family can learn more about the stars in the summer skies.

If you implement these strategies you can make the most of your time off and return to your routine refreshed and renewed.


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