With summer right around the corner, this can mean only one thing: Time to plan your next vacation!
Unfortunately, vacations cost money and Americans often spend more than they have. In fact, surveys show that nearly three-quarters of Americans have, at some point, gone into debt financing their annual vacation – by spending more than $1,100 on airfare, motels and admission fees.
Maybe it’s time to consider a ‘staycation’ in your own backyard. This way you can still take time off work, have fun and save money. Take a look at six of our top staycation ideas.
1. Go camping in the backyard
Turn that backyard barbecue you were planning into a camping trip under the stars!
Start the afternoon (or evening) by grilling up some grub either on your grill or in a firepit placed on the lawn. Then, borrow or buy a tent and set it up. As the sun sets, sit around the campfire, swap some scary stories, and roast some marshmallows. You can even turn this backyard adventure into an educational experience.
“Take time to identify the insects and plants in the backyard. Late at night, use a telescope to look at the stars to learn more about constellations,” says travel blogger Jenny Smith.
The best part? You can have as many backyard cookout/camping trips as you like during the summer.
2. Rediscover your town
When was the last time you checked out some of the local attractions right in your own town?
Spend your summer staycation doing something different in your downtown, like visiting museums, art galleries or the zoo. You can also check out live concerts, plays in the park, cultural festivals and farmers markets. The possibilities are endless.
Chances are, by becoming a tourist in your own town, you’ll reconnect with an activity you’ve lost touch with, or even discover something new you love.
3. Take a day trip somewhere local
Taking a short drive out of town also counts as a staycation.
Do you live in a coastal state, near a beach? Or somewhere close to a national or state park, hiking trail, historic place or major city? If you live near wine country, what about a tasting tour of some wineries? Living within driving distance of one of these activities — and not having to break your budget on airfare and hotel costs — makes them all the more special.
With that, when taking a weekend getaway, remember that the point of a staycation is to keep costs to a minimum. Apart from budgeting for gas and food, try to save money on admission by looking for discounts and using Groupon deals.
4. Host a movie day/night
With Netflix binge-watching the new norm, more people prefer to stay in and watch movies at home instead of spending money on inflated ticket and concession prices at the movie theater.
So, why not take advantage of this trend and make it part of your staycation?
The first step is setting up your movie theater. Invite some friends over, or your children’s friends, set up bean bags, lawn chairs, and blankets for seating (even exercise balls or milk crates if there’s overflow), and reserve one or two blankets to cover the windows and block out the sun (if it’s a daytime matinee).
The only money you’ll need to spend is on snacks. Make some popcorn, put out some chips and salsa, veggie platters, and some sweets. You’re all set for your home-grown movie night (or afternoon)!
5. Have a spa day
Your fantasy vacation might involve a glamorous getaway to a spa resort, but don’t worry, you can bring the spa experience right to your home – for an affordable price.
“If you want to enjoy exotic spa services without traveling away from home, then you can contact aestheticians who offer services at private residences,” says Smith.
“Contact your friends to have a spa party at home that includes facials, manicures and massages. Your spa party can last all day with your guests having fun pedicures or other beauty care services in your home rather than at a spa.”
6. Try something new
A staycation is the perfect opportunity to try something new.
Take a BYOB painting or pottery class. Try a cooking course. Join a conversational group to learn a new language. Or take lessons to learn a new entirely new skill, like guitar or archery.
You can also get together with friends for a softball game, or take on a do-it-yourself project. And don’t forget about volunteering. This can offer up a meaningful experience during your staycation.
Saving money with a staycation
A staycation might as well be called a savecation. While an exotic summer vacation may not be in your budget this year, a staycation allows you to have fun while saving money.
To help you get going, start by creating a vacation savings account. Or, use a banking app set up with an automatic savings account to build your balance as you go. This way, as you’re kicking back on your staycation, your money is on the move up.