Entertainment, Health and Lifestyle

This Summer, Vacation at Home

A cash shortage need not eliminate the idea of a family vacation. Clever and creative parents can turn several days off work into an amazing vacation experience without leaving home. Call it a stay-at-home adventure — a staycation!

There are many reasons why you might want to take a staycation, including wanting to save money, not having enough vacation days or simply needing to stay close to home.

A staycation differs from a vacation. A vacation means having to come up with the funds to cover the cost of gasoline, airfare or other transportation. It means paying for overnight accommodations. Eliminating the two most expensive parts of a typical vacation makes a staycation even more inviting.


Create a schedule and itinerary for each day that includes activities and meals. Make a big, colorful chart and allow the kids to participate in the planning. Excitement is contagious, so determine how you’ll set the tone.


Let everyone know the dates you’ll be on vacation. In the same way you would not be available if you were flying to another country, they need to know you will not be available during your vacation.


This is the big challenge for parents especially. Everyone has to surrender their cellphones and computers to a central holding area for the duration. Sure, it will be an adjustment, but it’s possibly the best move of all. Let the mail collect until you return to normal home life. Letting your kids know they have your undivided attention — at least during the times you are not taking some well-deserved naps — is your gift to them and to yourselves, too. A true vacation happens when you “vacate” the normal routines and stresses of life.


Google the name of your town, plus the word “tourist.” You’ll be amazed what you discover. We’re talking hiking trails, bike paths, community events, and even museums and playgrounds that you may not even know exist. Look for special deals, coupons and other goodies local merchants are offering. For example, where I live in Colorado, the site MileHighOnTheCheap.com is a treasure trove of local activities that are all cheap, many free — an amazing resource. Visit the museums, local attractions or historic districts that are the best parts of your hometown.


This is the fun part. Break all the rules during your stay-at-home vacation (within reason). Sleep in late, stay up really late, watch videos, play games, go on bike rides, explore places you’ve never been. A few days of junk food is not likely to create any serious problems


Even when you can’t get away for a wilderness camping trip, there’s nothing stopping you from enjoying the great outdoors without leaving home. Kids love to camp, so haul out the tent and camping gear (or borrow or rent) and set up in the backyard. With proper care and being mindful of local rules and guidelines, create a fire pit so you can sit around the campfire late into the night. Brush up on the old campfire songs. Determine that you’ll cook, eat and sleep outdoors during your camping staycation. Make s’mores (use the microwave if your area prohibits campfires) and tell some spooky stories with a flashlight. Who needs a campground?


You don’t have to live up in the mountains to go for a hike; even a park will do. Take a look at the website AllTrails.com. Input the name of your town and hit enter. Who knew there were so many trails ripe for hiking — right there in your own backyard!


Be sure to take lots of pictures and let the kids help to create a scrapbook of memories. And don’t be surprised when they call it the best vacation ever!

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Mary Hunt

Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, "Ask Mary." Tips can be submitted at tips.everydaycheapskate.com/ . This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

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