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The Art of the “Staycation”

by Tara Kuczykowski on May 21, 2009 · 15 comments

The following is a guest post from Cha-Ching on a Shoestring.

StaycationPhoto by ssdg4773

Our family loves vacation.  We spend months planning and preparing and looking forward to another crazy week with our extended family...all 19 of us.  The memories we make each year have become legendary.

That's why when a variety of circumstances (my husband's recent unemployment, my sister's family's recent move, and my very pregnant self) led us to attempt our very first "staycation" last summer, we were a little nervous.  How would staying home ever compare to our previous beach, amusement park, and camping trips?  Could we possibly find enough entertainment in our little town for a whole week?

In the end, we loved it.  It rates right up there with the most fun vacations we've ever had, and it definitely was the least expensive.  We even managed to add a few more memories to our list of vacation legends.

If you are feeling uncertain about taking another pricey vacation, you may want to consider a staycation for your family this summer.  Here are a few tips on how to make the most of your time with a little bit of creativity and even less money:

  • Make a plan in advance. It may be too easy to slip into your regular routine without setting up some kind of schedule for the week. Since we had multiple families involved, each family was assigned a day in which they were in charge of the activities. To make things even more fun, each family used to send an evite a few weeks in advance to invite the others to their day's festivities.
  • Use this as an excuse to try out something new. Who would have thought that one of our favorite activities would be an art museum? We asked around about what activities other people have enjoyed within driving distance of our home and ended up trying out a new zoo, an Imax theater, and rafting down a local river. If you live in a more rural area, consider taking a couple of day trips to the closest city. If you live near a large city, you may want to take advantage of all-in-one event passes like
  • Do what you can to make your home feel like a destination spot. We were lucky enough to have a family friend offer their huge bouncy-house water slide for us to borrow for the week, which the kids LOVED (as well as the occasional uncle). Have a cook-out, don leis and grass skirts, and enjoy a Hawaiian Luau. Borrow bikes, video games, wading pools, tents-whatever it takes to make your home feel a little less like home.
  • Don't be afraid to REST! Often vacations can be exhausting because you feel the need to fit in enough activities to make your trip worth your while. Enjoy the fact that you don't need to feel this pressure. Set up designated rest times when kids can watch a movie or play games and the adults can put up their feet.
  • Remember that sometimes it's the simple things that matter. Staying at home gave us time to enjoy walks to the park, playing card games, and a late night meteor shower-activities that sometimes get neglected in our hectic everyday lives. In the end, isn't vacation really meant to be all about simply being together anyway?

Deal Seeking Mom here: Have you perfected the art of the staycation? Do you have any additional tips for fun and frugal summer activities?

Kaley blogs with her husband Wes at Cha-Ching on a Shoestring, chronicling their journey of learning to live large on a limited budget and helping others do the same.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 [email protected] May 21, 2009 at 8:20 am

Great post! I've been considering this for the summer. Thanks for sharing!

[email protected]´s last blog post..Spaghetti Sauce from Scratch


2 Jennifer May 21, 2009 at 9:19 am

This was great info! It seems that we always fit so much in that we need a vacation from our vacation. Love the tips!


3 Rachel May 21, 2009 at 10:06 am

Great post! My sister, her SIL and I are all planning a 'summercamp' for our total of 7 kids this summer. We have found a lot of great inexpensive things to do in our area and three afternoons a week will be in my aunt's pool. Also our local library has a great summer program we are taking full advantage of.
We are coming out much better than paying a minimum of $100 a week for summer day camp per kid and we get to join in on the fun.


4 Denise May 21, 2009 at 10:13 am

Thanks for the reminder.


5 Julia @ The Frugal Find May 21, 2009 at 11:08 am

What a great idea, we weren't going to be able to take a "Vac"ation but we sure could take a "Stay"cation! Thanks for the inspiration!


6 Christy May 21, 2009 at 12:59 pm

I did a staycation last year for my daughter's birthdays (which are two days apart). We hit the local Children's museum, spent time at the park and at the river, had dinner outside, and since we live in a desert area we can't have campfires so we roasted marshmallows over a BBQ grill. We set up a tent in the back yard and rented a redbox and had a movie in the tent and camped out!! It was a GREAT time but I think the thing that made it the greatest, one thing this post didn't mention, is that we shut off everything else. We did all our errands before hand and unplugged the phones and computers. It is the one thing that will make or break a staycation, you may be staying at home but don't do anything at home. Another friend of mine even packed suitcases for her staycation, which really made it feel more like a vacation for her family.


7 Christy May 21, 2009 at 1:01 pm

P.S. to my last comment.

I said don't do anything at home, but meant to say, don't do your normal routine, change your schedule and act like you are somewhere else.


8 Tiffany May 21, 2009 at 1:47 pm

Great post! I have been planing our first staycation! May31st! ;)

Tiffany´s last blog post..Free Garnier Nutritioniste Ultra-Lift Pro


9 Madame Deals May 21, 2009 at 2:05 pm

We love to set up a tent and camp inside... We go on walk around the neighborhood and take pictures then we make a book about our trip...

Madame Deals´s last blog post..Give it AWAY! What are your kids sleeping on?


10 Wani May 21, 2009 at 3:29 pm

I love citypass! We used it in San Francisco a few years ago and it was well worth the cost! There are a few more cities I'd like to go to and use citypass then too!

Wani´s last blog post..Loser Progress Report


11 Stefani May 21, 2009 at 5:06 pm

Thanks for the great tips. My family is needing some fun, but don't have the extra money for a vacation right now.

Stefani´s last blog post..I Hate My Eyebrows!


12 Sweet Serendipity May 21, 2009 at 7:25 pm

There is a lot of useful info here. Great post. Thanks for sharing. Love the name Cha Ching on a Shoestring too.

Sweet Serendipity´s last blog post..Thousand Words Thursday


13 Cha-Ching on a Shoestring May 22, 2009 at 7:07 am

Thanks for the great tips, everyone!


14 Tiffani May 22, 2009 at 1:13 pm

This is a great idea. We weren't going to be able to go anywhere this year. But now I can just take a couple of days off and plan stuff around the city. There is plenty to do here. Thank you for this idea.


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