Summer is synonymous with vacation, but more people are putting their travel plans on hold thanks to various restrictions and tight budgets.
A recent study from Longwoods International found that 82% of travelers polled have changed their travel plans for the next six months. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t get away. In fact, a staycation is an affordable alternative to your annual summer trip and a great way to create lasting memories with your family.
One of the key factors in executing a staycation that actually feels like a vacation is doing the activities you typically enjoy when you’re away. But when money is tight or you’re in debt, replicating these events and activities at home may not seem like an option.
The good news is you don’t have to spend a lot of money to create an unforgettable staycation. Here are several ways to plan a staycation on a budget.
Map Out Costs
When deciding which activities are most important to creating that vacation-like experience at home, it’s important to research the potential expenses for making these ideas come to life. It’s easy for small expenses to add up if you aren’t paying attention, especially when trying to make up for not taking your scheduled trip.
Begin by looking around your home for items you forgot you had that can be used during your staycation, and find out if your family and friends have any supplies you could borrow — like a trampoline or blow-up pool — before making any purchases. Once you figure out what you have and what you still need, you can shop strategically.
First, look at used options through local listings, such as Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist, then compare prices and look for coupons. Keep in mind, a little research and creativity can help you come up with lower-cost alternatives to more expensive ideas.
Consider Free Activities
You can do so many free activities right at home or in your hometown that don’t require you to spend any money at all to feel like you’re on vacation.
For instance, you can turn your bathroom into a luxurious spa simply by taking a bubble bath, lighting some candles, and streaming some soothing music, or dust-off your favorite board games to host a family game night.
If you want to get out of the house, go out to explore a new nature hike or bike path, or take a picnic in a local park.
Incorporating different themes throughout the week can keep your staycation exciting — and you don’t have to break the bank, either. The options are endless and you can be as elaborate or simple as your budget allows.
Keep things cheap by picking up decorations from a local dollar store and using supplies and items you already have at home from a previous birthday party or other celebration. Some ideas include creating a luau experience in your backyard by preparing a few traditional Hawaiian dishes, decking out your backyard with island-inspired decor, and streaming a Hula dance performance or virtual Hula lesson.
Another day could be all about movies — choose a few different films (new or old) to watch while enjoying popcorn and your favorite candy. Then, test each other’s showbiz knowledge with a round of movie trivia and pull questions online. The options are endless!
Learn Something New
The opportunities are endless for you and your family to learn something new while staycationing, all from the comfort of your living room for low or no cost.
For instance, you can stream documentaries on various topics through your local library’s digital platform for free, follow along to a dance or fitness class on YouTube at no cost, or take an art class at the Artyfactory, which offers free online art lessons with a focus on basic drawing for pencil, ink, and colored pencil.
Explore Local Sites
People get so wrapped up in traveling to new places and seeing new sites that they often overlook the amazing features their own cities and nearby towns have to offer. A staycation is a great time to explore local art, history, architecture, and more.
For ideas, check your local convention bureau for a list of free or low-cost experiences and be a tourist in your own city. A plethora of free apps also exist to help you find local activities near you.
Take a Virtual Tour
Many museums, art galleries, and cultural centers around the world are offering virtual tours and online exhibits, many of which are free, that you can visit right from your living room. Some options include the Vatican Museum in Rome, the National Gallery in London, and Musée d’Orsay in Paris.
To plan your virtual tours, check out Google Arts and Culture for a list of options, or search an organization’s website to view their virtual offerings. Take this one step further by planning a meal that features the local cuisine of the site you will be visiting.
Save on Local Dining
For many people, eating out and trying new restaurants and different types of cuisines is an important part of their vacation. After all, who really wants to put the hard work into cooking and cleaning when you’re trying to unwind?
However, eating out can get expensive fast. Cut your spending by searching daily deal sites like Groupon or LivingSocial for restaurant savings. You can even find discounted restaurant gift certificates at restaurant.com or purchase dining gift cards in bulk for around 20% off at warehouse clubs.
All these options offer a great way to eat out without blowing your staycation budget!
Create a Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts are a fun way to spend a day exploring your own neighborhood and town. Pull together a list of tasks that both parents and kids must complete and split up into teams to add an element of competition and excitement.
Missions should be fun and unexpected and can include a range of ideas from trying a new flavor of ice cream at a favorite candy shop to snapping a selfie by a historic landmark.
Get Your Craft On
Crafts are fun for all ages and there are so many ways to be creative using common household items you already have laying around your home to save money. Items may include everything from popsicle sticks to bubble wrap to paper towel rolls to empty boxes from online orders.
If you’re unsure how to turn these regular items into art, check out sites like Google Arts and Culture or Pinterest for ideas and inspiration. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to keep your family entertained, and you don’t have to travel far from home to see new sights.