The average cost of a summer vacation for Americans is almost $2,000. That’s more than the average mortgage payment, by several hundreds, and more than the average rent by even more. By choosing free or low-cost, local activities and locations instead, you can experience many of the same benefits of a vacation at a fraction of the cost.
When a vacation just isn’t in the budget, a staycation at home can help us find a little relaxation. This is a great way to recharge your batteries without breaking the bank. And if you’re already using the 50/20/30 budgeting method, you can pull some funds from the wants line and use it for everything you need.
Unlike a true vacation, staycations don’t have to be expensive, outrageous, or over-the-top. It may sound less glamorous, but when you do it right, a staycation can give you a boost and hold you over until your next vacation.
The meaning of staycation is different for everyone. What they all have in common is that they involve being a tourist in your own town, visiting a nearby town or state, or taking time off at home. Staycations involve all the rest of a more formal vacation, without the hassle of long-term parking, airport security, and associated costs.
There is no end to the list of staycation ideas. So often, we focus on cross-country or international travel and forget that there’s a whole world right outside of our front doors. Many of us have seen so little of our own hometowns and surrounding ones.
There are state parks, campgrounds, hiking and biking trails, historical societies, libraries, museums, beaches, and lakes to visit in each state. And there are national parks across thirty states. While not all of these options are free, some of them are, and others are low-cost.
You can save money on these types of activities by going to museums on free days or taking advantage of age-based or AAA discounts, bringing your own food to the beach instead of paying for overpriced concessions, and going to national parks on free or discount days.
While staying in your hometown will help you make the most of your staycation budget, you may be looking to travel a bit farther. If you’re not hopping on a plane, it’s easier to keep costs down. And a staycation within driving distance can help you find the best of both worlds.
As an example, here are a few staycation favorites in Delaware:
There are hotels and AirBnBs all along the coastline, but a cheaper option would be to take a day trip or two or spend a weekend at a local campsite.
Are you a midwesterner? Check out these staycation favorites in Wisconsin.
Since it’s bordered by Lakes Michigan and Superior, there are lots of unique and beautiful landscapes to explore and outdoor excursions, plus plenty of options for camping, staying in cabins or finding budget-friendly rentals.
And what about staycation favorites in California for those on the west coast?
California is one of the largest states in the country. Depending on where you’re coming from, there are countless opportunities there. Choose a beach and boardwalk to explore, visit one of the nine national parks (the most in any state), or one of the 280 state parks.
There are also 13,000 campsites available, so you’ll have plenty of places to stay if you spend a budget-friendly weekend.
If you’re sold on the idea of a staycation, it’s time to start planning. Start by creating a list with two columns. In one column, list out things you have always wanted to do within 100 miles (or set your distance to whatever works for you) of your home. In the other column, list ideas of things to do at home that would be relaxing, or things you never get time to do like an at-home spa day, or reading a book, or going on a 10-mile discovery walk of your neighborhood.
And, since you want to stick to your personal budget, prioritize the items that you can do based on what you feel you can safely spend without jeopardizing your budgeting needs. Now you are ready to sit down with your partner or family to plan out the perfect staycation. And if you need ideas for things to do, simply do an online search for staycation ideas near me, or even free things to do near me. You may be pleasantly surprised by the search results you receive.