Staycation – Loving the Best of Both Worlds

We all need a vacation.  But some years we just cannot afford that longed-for trip to the islands.  But don’t let money stop you from taking a break.  Instead, try a Staycation!

A Staycation is a vacation where you stay at home.  It is amazing how much money you can save, but still have a fun time.  With a little bit of planning and preparation, you can do as much without leaving the comfort of your home, yet still feel like you have had a break.

pink piggy bank wearing yellow rimmed sunglasses sitting on a pile of sand with the ocean in the background

Plan Ahead for the Best Staycation

Before you schedule those days off, do a little planning, so there are few, if any surprises.  This plan will help keep you on track, both time and money wise.

Create a Budget

Before you do anything else, determine just how much money you can spend.  Keep in mind you may have to buy tickets, meals, or even souvenirs wherever you choose to go.  Gas and other travel expenses need to be added, as well.

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Do Your Research

Now that you know exactly how much you can spend, consult with family members, or friends you plan to Stay-cation with.  Determine where and what each person would like to do.

Do online research of things to do in your area.  Check to see if admission is charged and make a note of it.  Look to see how far you need to travel.  See what restaurants and other activities are in the same area. 

Once you have a list, discuss it with your traveling companions.  Narrow the list down to at least one activity per person.  Then once again, figure the expenses of those things.

hand holding two white tickets

Purchase Ahead of Time

If admission is required, see if you can purchase tickets ahead of time.  This is a two-fold benefit.  First, you can better manage the financial end, by not putting out all your money at once.  And second, it may save you time waiting in line at the ticket booth.

Make a Schedule

Place a Stay-cation calendar in a conspicuous place, where everyone can see it.  On each day, note which activity will occur.  Make a check mark by those activities where tickets have been purchased, as well as a departure time.

This not only adds some anticipation to your Staycation, but also helps to keep you organized.

Vintage sign cut out like a pointing hand with the word Antiques painted in white

Things to do During a Staycation

Years ago, I heard something that made a lot of sense.  If you visit someplace for a week, you are more than likely to see over 90% of what that location has to offer.  If you stay for a month, you might see 50%.  But if you live there, the odds of you seeing even 20% are low.

Think about it.  Once you live in an area, you often have great plans to visit some of the local sites.  But jobs, time, and other distractions often get in the way.

A Stay-cation can up that percentage quite a bit.  And it can be a fun thing to play Tourist in your own hometown.  Many cities have fun activities that are suitable for kids and adults alike.

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Consider a day at a museum, an amusement park, or even an historical village.  The summer months often have any number of festivals, flea markets and farmers’ markets setting up.

Are there parks close by?  Pack a picnic lunch, a good book or a camera.  Take a walk.  Play Frisbee.  Get your family involved in a softball game, or even the old-fashioned games such as Freeze Tag or Red Rover.

See if there are Putt-Putt Golf courses, or even Go-Cart raceways.  Think about a scavenger or treasure hunt.  Or, if you like a ‘different’ version, go antiquing in search of that ‘perfect piece’.

pots of red, pink and yellow flowers on a bench, blue watering can, bright green rubber boots, and a hose rolled up and hung on a wooden fence

A Staycation at Home

You don’t have to leave home to enjoy a well-earned vacation.  If you plan ahead, you may even find your car never leaves the driveway!

Staying at home will give you an opportunity to complete a few items on your list of things to do.

If your bedroom needs to be painted and thoroughly cleaned, a Staycation would be the perfect time to do it.  Shop in advance for paint and other supplies, so they will be ready to go when your vacation begins.

Get your gardens and flowerbeds in shape or take the time to finally incorporate that herb bed you’ve been wanting.  Spend the day in the kitchen canning the fruits (and vegetables) of your spring gardening labor.

a red tent set up in a backyard with three young boys inside with flashlights and surrounded by stuffed animals

Other Things to Do at Home

If you love to camp out, pitch your tents in the back yard.  If zoning allows, arrange a fire pit so you can roast hot dogs.  Be sure to have a few ghost stories on hand as well.  No camping trip is complete without them!

If you are a beachy person, but just can’t go to the islands, create one in your back yard.  String a hammock up between two trees (or get a hammock stand). 

Purchase two plastic swimming pools, one smaller than the other.  Fill the larger one up with water.  Get a few bags of sandbox sand and fill the smaller one up.  If you need added ambience, get a few plastic beach toys to add to it.

This way, you can stick your feet in the sand, cool off in the water, then head back to the hammock for a nap, or a ‘date’ with a good book.  

pitcher of lemonade filled with lemon slices, a mason jar filled with lemonade with a slice of lemon and mint leaf on the rim

And don’t forget the cold drinks.  You don’t have to have an alcoholic drink, either.  Add a paper umbrella and a small fruit kabob to your Lemonade.  Tropics, here I come!

Another fun thing to do (but this one does cost a bit of money), is to set up an outdoor movie theater.  To do this, you will need a projector, a screen, a DVD player and the appropriate cords and extension cords.

At dusk, pop some popcorn.  Add a tray of cold drinks, candy and any other treat you would like to have. Settle in outside for a fun night at the movies.  (Don’t forget bug spray.  Or, place plenty of pots of Mosquito plants in your ‘theater’ area, to keep it comfortable.)

The best part is that this can be incorporated into weekend movies, and even used as an excuse for a neighborhood party throughout the year!

white straw hat with do not disturb embroidered on the brim in black

A Final Stay-cation Tip

Taking a vacation usually means getting away from more than just the office.  If you travel, it means you also get away from errands, chores, and other life-draining responsibilities.

Don’t let that stop you from taking a Staycation.  If necessary, put out a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign.  Turn off your phone.  Let folks know you will be on ‘vacation’ (but you don’t have to tell them you aren’t leaving, either!).

Figure out the best way to protect your time and spend it doing the things you love and want to do.  Believe me, those chores and responsibilities will still be there when you ‘return’.

sheet hung across two posts to use as a movie screen in a backyard; table filled with a tiered tray of cookies, jars filled with candies, and glasses of refreshment

Schedule a Staycation Today!

Just because you have scheduled vacation time at work, doesn’t mean you have to plan a big week, or spend a lot of money.  You can just as easily have a Staycation, save money, and still have a lot of fun.

Now it’s time to grab your pen, paper and laptop.  Get started planning the best Staycation you could probably ever have!

Looking for a few Other Things to Do?

Pull up a rocker, pour yourself a glass of ice-cold lemonade, check out these posts, and Relax & Enjoy!


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Julie Murphree is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and speaker on all things ‘Living a Simple Life on the Farm’. She is the author of \\\'The Farm Wife – Living a Simple Life on the Farm. She and her husband have 60 acres in NW Louisiana where they actively work on living as sustainable as possible.

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