Teenage friends making sÕmores with toasted marshmallows

A Fabulous Vacation on a Budget is a Staycation!

You might want to take a Staycation this summer—perhaps to save money, you have not accumulated enough vacation days, or simply need to stay close to home.

Teenage friends making sÕmores with toasted marshmallows

A cash shortage need not eliminate the idea of a family vacation. Clever and creative parents can turn several days off work into an amazing vacation experience without leaving home. Call it a stay-at-home adventurea Staycation!

A Staycation differs from a vacation

A vacation means having to come up with the funds to cover the cost of gasoline, airfare, or other transportation. It means paying for overnight accommodations. Eliminating the two most expensive parts of a typical vacation makes a Staycation inviting.

Make a plan

Create a schedule and itinerary that includes activities and meals. Make a big colorful chart and allow the kids to participate in the planning. Excitement is contagious, so determine youll set the tone.


Let everyone know the dates youll be on vacation. In the same way, you would not be available if you were flying to another country, they need to know you will not be available during your vacation.


This is a big challenge for parents especially. Everyone has to surrender their cellphones and computers to a central holding area for the duration. Sure it will be an adjustment, but possibly the best move of all. Let the mail collect to be opened when you return to normal home life. Letting your kids know they have your undivided attentionat least when you are not taking some well-deserved napsis your gift to them and to yourselves, too. A true vacation happens when you vacate” life’s normal routines and stresses.

Think like a tourist

Do an online search using the name of your town plus the word tourist.Youll be amazed at what you discover. Were talking hiking trails, bike paths, community events, museums, and playgrounds that you may not even know to exist. Look for special deals, coupons, and other goodies local merchants offer.

For example, where I live in Colorado, the site MileHighOnTheCheap.com is a treasure trove of local activities that are all cheap, many freean amazing resource. While on Staycation, visit the museums, local attractions, or historic districts that are the best parts of your hometown.

Change all the rules

This is the super fun part. Break all the rules during your stay-at-home staycationwithin reason. Sleep in late, stay up really late, watch videos, play games, go on bike rides, and explore places youve never been. A few days of junk food will not likely create serious problems. 

Camp out

Even when you can’t get away for a wilderness camping trip, nothing stopping you from enjoying the great outdoors without leaving home. Kids love camping, so haul out the tent and camping gear (borrow or rent) and set up in the backyard.

With proper care and being mindful of local rules and guidelines, create a fire pit so you can sit around the campfire late into the night. Brush up on the old campfire songs.

Determine that youll cook, eat, and sleep outdoors during your camping staycation. Make s’mores (use the microwave if your area prohibits campfires), and tell some spooky stories with a flashlight. Who needs a campground?

Take a hike

You dont have to live up in the mountains to go for a hikeeven a park will do. Take a look at the website AllTrails.com. Input the name of your town and hit enter. Who knew there were so many trails ripe for hikingright there in your backyard!


Be sure to take lots of pictures and let the kids help create a scrapbook of memories. And dont be surprised when they call it the best vacation ever!




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3 replies
  1. Joan says:

    Thank you for this, Mary!
    Even though we can afford to take a vacation, we hate the crazy high prices of everything and have decided to take a staycation at the end of the month.
    We moved to a new area last August and have not properly explored everything it has to offer.
    We found a great campground within a 30 minute drive of home with a day use area including a huge beach, hiking and biking trails, a nature center and picnic area.
    You can also go to the site Factory Tours USA, click on your state and get an interesting list of factories open to the public. There are tours for makers of just about anything you can think of: candy, glass, cheese, cars, guitars, whistles, pottery, travel trailers, olive oil, jelly beans, Kitchen Aid Mixers, kazoos, furniture and even modular homes.

  2. Cate says:

    Here’s another resource: many libraries now have passes to local museums, galleries, adventures (airboat ride here), etc. Just reserve the pass(es), pick up & have some fun.


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