If you have never been a tourist in your town, I highly recommend taking a staycation. This list will help you make sure that staycation is a successful less stressful vacation for your entire family (because let’s face it, you can never achieve stress-free).
3. Benefits Of A Staycation
Before I get to the tips for an outstanding staycation experience, as well as listing 20 different things to do during your vacation, I first want to explain why you should take one instead of heading far from home.
1. It Keeps The Cost Of Vacation Way Down
Our family enjoyed a 6-day staycation one year. By staying near home, we were able to eliminate the expense of accommodations and hiring a pet sitter for our dog. We were also able to cut down on the cost of travel and eating out. These things make staycations attractive to thrifty families like ours.
2. It Helps You Get To Know The Benefits Your Area Has To Offer
I don’t think, however, that a small travel budget should be the only reason for taking a staycation. I believe that exploring the area you live in can help you appreciate it more, especially when you find hidden gems you never knew it had, like waterfalls and great locally-owned restaurants.
3. It Can Be Less Stressful Than Traveling Further Away
It can also be more relaxing, especially for families of small children. Taking day trips allows you to end each night at home by regular bedtime hours so children can sleep in their beds at routine times.
Although some meals might be enjoyed out, most will be served at home and will be foods your little ones are used to. Plus, you have more chances of bumping into families with young children that might live in your neighborhood and become long-term friends.
How To Prepare For A Staycation So You Don’t Waste It On Chores
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1. Decide How Much You Want To Spend
Decide precisely how much your family can afford or wants to spend on your staycation.
2. Find Out What There Is To Do In Your Area And Then Hold A Family Meeting
Visit your local visitor center together to get an idea of just what is in your area to see and do. If you live in the States, check out the website onlyinyourstate.com for hidden gems to visit that you may never have heard of. If you live near a bigger center, try tripadvisor.com and enter “thing to do in…” or “places to eat in…” for ideas. Don’t forget to ask your Facebook friends for ideas, along with co-workers, and your in-real-life friends.
After you have gathered up information on what there is to see in your area and knowing your budget restraints, find out what family members want to do and where they want to go. If you have teenagers, you could give them a budget and a maximum distance from home limit and then let them plan a day for the entire family to enjoy.
3. Come Up With A Day By Day Plan Of Events
Now that you have a list of what the family wants to do, it is time to come up with a day by day plan of what you are going to do. Don’t plan your days down to the minute, but do have a plan. For instance, during our last staycation, our family wanted time to chill out at home each day, so we planned just one out of the house activity each day. That way, most days, the kids could sleep in, and we were home early enough for them to watch a bit of TV before bed.
4. Plan Simple Meals
After your events are planned, it is time to plan your meals. Keep these meals simple as the last thing the cook in the family wants to do during staycation is spend hours slaving in the kitchen while everyone else is chilling out.
Stick to simple meals and quick meals that don’t create a massive pile of dirty dishes to clean once you are done eating. Consider paper plates to make clean up easier for the week.
Buy cereal, fruit, and yogurt cups for serve-yourself breakfasts—purchase sandwich fixings for lunches on the go or at home.
If you need to make a grocery run mid-week for a few essentials, take advantage of your local Walmart’s curbside service if it offers it. It will save you time and hassle. If you haven’t used Walmart’s curbside service, use my referral link and save $10 off your first order of $50 or more.
During our staycation, we ate out one meal per day, which took a lot of the meal preparation pressure off; however, if eating out did not fit our budget, I would have frozen more meals ahead to allow for more time off.
If you are planning on eating out, check out this list of 50+ Restaurants apps that can save you money on take-out food. Also, check out this post for ways thrifty people eat out for less.
5. Share The Work Load
Since you are home, housework is going to continue as normal. I let some of it slide for a week, but other chores that could not wait a week I delegated so that the workload was shared evenly. Make up your list of tasks that need to be done daily a few days before your staycation and delegate them out in a way that makes the best sense for the ages and stages of your family.
Just like you might want to consider using paper plates for meals during your staycation think of other ways to make chores easier for the week. Perhaps you might wash and dry clothes, but leave them in a laundry basket for people to grab as needed for the week. Or instead of mixing up your homemade cleaners and cleaning with rags, you can splurge on ready-made cleaning wipes and leave them out on the bathroom and kitchen counter for quick clean-ups.
6. Relax The Rules And Include A Few More Treats
Remember, this is a vacation! Chances are if you had gone to a hotel room for the week, the kids would have had fewer rules than they did at home. They also probably would have eaten a bit more junk food and enjoyed a few more activities.
Consider letting the children stay up a little later and sleep in a bit more in the mornings. Stock a few of their favorite treats in the house, and yours too. Have a PJ day where changing out of their pajamas is optional.
If your children are tiny, take some time to talk to your spouse about what would be a treat for each of you. Perhaps you want an extended time in a hot bubble bath, or a quiet hour curled up in bed with a good book. Maybe your partner wants to watch an entire episode or two of their favorite “non-child friendly” show and you can take the kids out for a bit to make it happen.
When we had our staycation, we gave the children an extra hour of screen time a day. They also got to stay up late and sleep in. I bought one favorite junk food item for each person in the house–including my husband and me. My husband spent one day doing nothing but reading, and I got several long runs in that week and a kid-free coffee date with a friend.
7. Save Money Where You Can
We enjoyed a meal of hotdogs and pop from Sam’s Club for less than $10 one night. I bought a round of snacks from a grocery store instead of pulling through the drive-thru one afternoon.
8. Splurge On The Important Things
Save money where you can, but don’t let having to pay full price stop you from visiting a place that is a “really want to” for a child.
For instance, one of my children was begging to try out Skyzone, an indoor trampoline place. I knew that Living Social often offered deals for it and watched for months for one, but it never came up.
Instead of telling the child no, we were not going at full price, we saved in other areas using tips shared in the point above so we could splurge on Skyzone at full price.
9. Visit The Unique In Your Area
The real fun of a staycation is checking out the hidden gems in your area like the nearby ice-cream parlor my hubby and I took a drive out to and enjoyed a one of a kind banana split at.
10. Make Use Of The Driving Time
Unless you live in a big city where all the places you want to visit are just minutes from your door, chances are you are going to have travel time each day.
Use this time to start conversations like “What was your favorite thing we did today?” Or bring along a book that is full of questions to ask each other. Another fun way to pass the time is with a pack of road-trip themed scavenger hunt cards. Don’t forget about audiobooks and family-friendly podcasts, which can make time spent on the road fly by.
20 Fun And Simple Ideas For Your Family Staycation
1. Buy a 1,000 piece puzzle and leave it out all week so you can work on it a bit each day.
2. Go camping at a local state park or in your back yard. Most camping items can be borrowed if you don’t own them.
3. Hold a family game night. Perhaps even invest in a new board game–here is a favorite family game of ours.
4. Host a double feature movie night at home. Hit the dollar store first for movie sized candy boxes at just a $1 apiece.
5. Volunteer together at a local animal shelter, a running event, soup kitchen, thrift store, etc.
6. Go for a family hike. Use the app Alltrails to find the closest family-friendly hiking trail near you.
7. Go Geocaching. Download the Geocaching app to seek one out in your area and make sure to add to it.
8. Have a family crafting day (to avoid cluttering your home, try making crafts you can donate to a charity project).
9. Have a spa day at home–purchase what you need at the dollar store. Or splurge and get pedicures at the beauty school.
10. Look up local parks in your area and pick one that you haven’t visited to explore. Pack a picnic when you do.
11. Make a list of museums in your town and surrounding towns and visit a few during the duration of your staycation. If your budget is tight, stick to the free ones.
12. Watch a sunrise or a sunset. This can be done from your backyard or perhaps from a better viewpoint in your town.
13. Download a stargazing app and go stargazing one evening. This is a great activity to do when camping.
14. Make a list of locally-owned restaurants you have yet to visit and pick one to visit during your staycation.
15. Rent bikes, canoes, kayaks, paddle boards, or whatever is available near where you live as a family.
16. Spend an afternoon baking as a family.
17. Before your staycation begins, make a list of any local festivals going on either in your town or in neighboring cities and pick one to attend.
18. Invite your friends over for an ice-cream social. You provide the ice cream, and they provide the toppings.
19. Play video games together–mom and dad too! Find out why the kids like them so much. You can rent one from Redbox.
20. Check out Living Social for discounts on attractions near you and do one or two during your staycation.
Don’t forget to have one of these days too!
Have a lazy do-nothing day. No one has to get out of their jammies. Serve donuts for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, and cereal for dinner. Spend the day reading, snuggling, watching movies, and relaxing together.
Has your family taken a staycation? Any tips to share?
For a list of 52 different websites, apps, and stores our thrifty family uses to help us keep our expenses low, click here to visit our Thrifty Tools Resource Page.
More Tips For Inexpensive Yet Enjoyable Travel
- 33 Ways To Save Money On Travel Accommodations
- How To Find Stunning Places To Explore: Both Near And Far
- 10 Ways To Keep Children Busy When Camping In The Rain
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