Staycations 101 - How to Save Money on a Vacation at Home

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Want to take a family vacation, but worried about the costs? A stay-at-home vacation ("Staycation") can be a fun and money-saving alternative to dealing with that thrilling extra security search at the airport, or packing everyone in the family roadster for a less-than-scenic drive to your destination. ("Are we there yet? Are we there yet?")

However, there is a difference between a staycation and just hanging around your house being bored. Planning is important. If you don't put any thought into it beforehand, after a day or two you may be looking for a vacation from the rest of your family. Consider some of the following things as you plan your staycation.

  • What Does Everyone Need From a Vacation? – The idea of the perfect vacation is probably different for everyone in your family. You may want to get out and explore area attractions, your spouse may want time simply to relax, and your kids may have completely different ideas. (The odds are good that they will, just by definition.) Don't just assume your idea or your spouse's idea is the best. Talk it out as a family, and make some blocks of time to accommodate everyone's wishes. You are likely to get the best results if you split the staycation between family time and "do your own thing" time.
  • Stick To a Budget – Once you have planned out your staycation, you know how much money you should expect to spend on it. Make your budget and stick to it, otherwise, you have blown one of the major staycation advantages. There are probably many free activities and attractions that are available in your area, and this is a perfect time to explore ones that you are usually too busy to attend.
  • Remember, It's Still a Vacation – The vacation component of a staycation is important. Resist the urge to catch up on job issues or the thousand or so chores that cross your mind. If these items are stressing you out, schedule a small (and we do mean small) portion of your vacation time to devote to this work, perhaps while others in the family explore an entertainment option that does not interest you.  You may also consider whether you are just generally overcommitted in life and should simplify things, but that is another topic.
  • Get Out of the House – A staycation does not mean you literally have to stay in the house. Get out in the fresh air and explore the options available to you. Hiking or biking, fishing, a picnic in the park, playing with the family dog... even a nap in the hammock is an improvement over being glued to the couch watching reality-show reruns. Note that in most cases, the above options are free.
  • Look For Discounts – Vacation season may be peak season for most nearby attractions and restaurants, but there may still be money savings discounts available. If you have a particular place in mind, ask them in advance if they have any specials planned for your staycation period.

If done properly, a staycation can be the perfect relaxing holiday option. Everyone in the family will be rested and ready to return to work, school, or whatever normal routine is appropriate. Meanwhile, you will have saved enough money to mix it up and take a destination vacation next year – unless, of course, you and your family decide you all enjoy staycationing and saving money even more.

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