Staycation Nation: Spend Less for a Great Vacation at Home!

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As images of your friends living it up down in Cabo start to take over your Facebook feed, you might think about taking a nice, long, no-expenses-spared vacation for Spring Break. After all, you work hard for the money (so hard for the money). If anything, you’re the one who deserves to really cut loose.
But then you think about the “no expenses spared” part of that vacation plan and you remember: oh yeah, you literally do not have any money to spare. Looks like Cabo will have to wait. This year, you’re going to be taking a “staycation” instead.
Luckily, there are still tons of ways to make that spring break staycation just as fun and relaxing as any trip—and for only a fraction of the cost.  The key to any great staycation is to be creative, so here are some ideas to get you started.

1. Create your own driving tour in 3 steps

Consumer and savings expert Josh Elledge (@joshelledge), founder of SavingsAngel.com (@savingsangel), has a three-step process he recommends:

“First,” says Elledge, “create a ‘day-driving circle’ around your hometown of about 1.5 to 2 hours of drive time. Where can you go and come back in the same day? Within that drive time, find areas of interest, activities, sight-seeing, historical places, festivals happening… whatever catches your interest.”

“Second, comb the internet for deals—like Groupon or the ones that often partner with local radio stations and see what you can save on activities and food. These sites often also help you learn about activities or points of interest you didn’t even know about. Don’t forget your own hometown!

Third, figure out a daily itinerary that minimizes driving and has both variety and downtime. Spring Break should be both fun and refreshing—so don’t feel you need to fill every minute.”

Lastly, Elledge suggest that you “use Swagbucks to earn points towards free gift cards while you’re already doing research for your vacation. Purchase free and discounted gift cards from them for places you know you’ll stop while out and about.”

2. Unplug from the world

The pace of information in 2017—whether it comes from the national news or from your friends’ facebook updates—is completely exhausting. As a part of your staycation, try turning your phone off, or at least leaving it in another room so you’re not constantly fiddling with it. Close your laptop, put away the tablet (though if you’re using it to read a book, that’s fine) and try to just be present. You’ll be surprised how relaxing some true, screen-free downtime can be.

3. Clear out your Netflix queue

Then again, there are certain kinds of screen time that are 100% staycation approved. If you have Netflix, Amazon Prime, another streaming service, or even just a really full DVR, you can take your time off and finally binge watch that show all your friends are talking about.

4. Check for discounts—especially through memberships

In their blog post Cheap Travel: Enjoy A Staycation and Save Big Money, frugal living bloggers The Thrifty Couple (@thriftycouple) suggest using local memberships to get discounts in your area:

“Be sure to check any memberships you have to local attractions for any additional venues,” they write. “We have memberships to a local children’s museum that we visit regularly, but our membership card gives us free or discounted admission to many other attractions in the area that we do not visit normally and are perfect for discounts on the staycation! Check the websites of the attractions and get on the email lists for potential discounts.  And of course utilize your Entertainment Book or other local coupon resources.”

5. Enjoy the great outdoors

Taking a hike or a nature walk in your local area will pretty much cost you nothing but the gas it takes you to get there and the money for some healthy snacks. Check for what kind of hiking opportunities or state parks are available nearby. Be sure to check that you can do the whole thing in one day though. If you are thinking about a camping trip, however, why don’t you…

6. Go camping in the backyard

It’s all the fun of camping with all the convenience of literally having your house, like, 25 feet away. Set up some tents and a fire pit in your backyard and enjoy a night roasting hot dogs and s’mores then sleeping under the stars. It might not beat camping at a real campsite, but it does beat having to use the toilet facilities at a real campsite—so it all evens out.

7. Find free or discounted attractions in your area

Here’s some more great advice from the Thrifty Couple’s post. They write that you should “visit the free attractions like the public buildings we mentioned above or parks you haven’t been to before. Visit your state’s sites and visitor centers for attractions as well as a list of FREE attractions across the country to help you plan your staycation! One day, we went to the visitor’s center in our area and received a free walking-tour map that we were able to do and enjoy!”

8. Go to the movies

If you’re looking to get out of the house as a part of your staycation, why not go to the local multiplex and see a bunch of movies? Just keep these three things in mind… 1. See matinees, they’re cheaper. 2. Sneaking in your own treats and drinks will drastically reduce your expenses. 3. We’re not telling you to theater hop but…

Still not sure what a staycation might look like in practice? No worries! there’s another blog post from the Thrifty Couple that you should check out. It’s called Our Staycation 2012: Farm Animals, Wild Animals and Swedish Food and Play. It gives you a great peek into how a family can have a fun, awesome vacation in the local area all while spending close to nil.

If you have some great staycation ideas of your own, let us know on Twitter and Facebook!

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Contributors

Josh Elledge, is the Founder and Chief Executive Angel of SavingsAngel.com®, which bolsters the buying power of the average U.S. family by combining technology, coupons and smart thinking for extreme savings on household consumables and everyday items.  Josh launched SavingsAngel, Inc. from his Holland, Michigan, home in 2007. Through his work with SavingsAngel.com, Josh has emerged as one of the nation’s leading experts on consumer savings. He has shared his successful couponing and savings expertise with millions of families, both online, in person. All told, Josh has appeared on TV or radio more than 1,500 times.

The Thrifty Couple, Alex & Cassie Michael, are on the cutting edge of creative and intentional living. They are all about saving money and helping others stretch their budget in every area of life! The Thrifty Couple Website offers a refreshing website among financial bloggers that gives a fresh perspective for both male and female readers. After realizing they were over $1OOK in consumer debt, Alex and Cassie paid it off in just over 7.5 years. Their passion is encouraging other families that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that it is possible to live without debt while meeting your financial goals.

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