With many families still struggling to make ends meet, a staycation may have more appeal than ever. A staycation is a vacation you spend at home, or near your home, while creating the environment and excitement of a traditional vacation.
Staycations are great options when you're on a budget and have mobility issues, such as elderly family members or young children, notes Matt Wixon, author of The Great American Staycation: How to Make a Vacation at Home Fun for the Whole Family (and Your Wallet!). "When we'd get on planes with our young sons, we could feel the other passengers trying to telepathically direct us toward seats far from theirs," he says. "To keep things simpler, we've been taking vacations in our hometown and nearby for several years."
Staycations also boost local economies, he notes.
No Bags Required
If a staycation sounds appealing, Wixon suggests visiting your local library or searching the Internet to plan a few outings within 100-150 miles of your home.
To get your creative juices flowing, here are some popular ideas:
- Camp in your backyard or a local park. Consider inviting relatives or neighbors to make it more of an event.
- Take a behind-the-scenes tour at a local business like the post office, fire station, movie theater or bowling alley—most kids will enjoy seeing how their favorite pizza is made or how mail is sorted.
- Visit a museum, art gallery, or theme park. Some offer kids activities and sleepovers.
- Ride a train. Trips ranging from 30 minutes to a few hours make the trip part of the fun, especially trains that feature "train robberies" or other shows.
- Swim at a water park or public pool to get that relaxed "beach" feeling without traveling too far or having to stay overnight.
- Explore aquariums, zoos, or animal parks. Be sure to check for any special orientations, tours, or extras, suggests Wixon.
Ready, Set, Relax
Whatever options you choose, Consumer Reports offers two recommendations to make your staycation feel like a real vacation.
- Fight the urge to call the office, make yourself available to the boss, or check email and phone messages, activities that can turn your respite into an extension of work.
- Escape your daily routine and don’t try to include chores like cleaning out the garage or getting the car repaired.
The bottom line, says Wixon, is to keep your staycation simple, relaxing and fun. "I took my kids to a nearby indoor aquatic center so they could try out the slides, spray water on me and show me their swimming moves. Afterward, we stopped at a store to get some cookies. We sat down to eat them, and between bites of cookie, my son asked: 'Dad, don't you think this is the best special day ever?'
"That was a reminder of how great a staycation can be. It might not be the vacation of a lifetime, but it’s the right vacation for this time in my life," he adds.