It’s that time of year again. The kids are out of school and you really want to spend time with them and make wonderful memories, but a vacation is out of the question. You can’t get away and, even if you could, it’s way out of your budget.
Uncle Sam took more than his share, or your calculated share, anyway. Credit card bills are bleeding you dry, and you can’t put more on plastic. So you crawl under the covers and hide, wishing a solution would surface.
Here it is.
Look on the bright side, sunshine. For a beautiful time creating memories with your loved ones, you need only two days and some imagination.
Try these staycation ideas for a grand time (without spending a grand!).
11 Staycation Ideas for the Money- and Time- Strapped Family
1. Hit the road in your own city, armed with cameras and snacks.
If you’d be willing to visit a strange town, pretend yours is just that. If you live in or close to a metropolis, it’s easy — there are always places you don’t often see that should be fun to explore. If you live in a rural area, hit Google Maps and then the road. Fill your time with laughs, snapping goofy pictures everywhere you go.
2. Go on a city- (or county-) wide scavenger hunt.
Make a list for the family and get on the road with clues to help you find everything on it. The more obscure you get, the longer the hunt will take – great for bigger kids, but not so fun for the little ones, so plan accordingly.
3. Go to a motel in a neighboring city.
If your timing is flexible, bid on rooms via Priceline, or try calling and negotiating lower rates with the manager before accepting whatever they offer. After all, the goal is to save while you stay, right?
4. Make it a movie marathon day.
Choose flicks that the whole family can watch together and enjoy. Start after breakfast and have a little family exercise break in between. Oh, and make it a PJ Day to really relax and enjoy!
5. Drive to anywhere.
Don’t use a map. Don’t have a destination. Just plan to drive in a direction for X hours, then stop and explore and stay where you are. If you can spend the night, BONUS! If not, that’s ok. Have fun exploring your new locale, taking pictures and snagging souvenirs.
6. Go to a waterpark.
It’s likely that your city, or one nearby, has a waterpark. What better excuse to jump in the water than saving money? If you can’t stay on vacation for a week or so, a day at a waterpark may be the next best thing.
7. If you can’t park it, raft it.
River rafting is another amazing excursion, and one that’s often cheaper than waterparks. Check for restrictions on ages if you have little ones, but many river dock rental places have options for the younger clientele.
8. Go camping.
Even if you can’t head to a nearby mountain range (bonus points if you can!), you can still hang with the neighbors and have a neighborhood camp-out at home. Or go it alone with just you and your loved ones. Either way, pack up the tent and make a rule to not go inside for anything.
9. Host your own neighborhood field day.
Make it complete with hilarious games and amazing prizes — and don’t forget the pictures! Top off the afternoon with a cook out and ice cream sundaes.
10. Call for a Blackout Day (or weekend).
Turn off all electronic devices for at least 24 hours. Spend the entire day focusing on the fun you’re having with your favorite people. If you’ve got tweens or teens, this may take something like a molar extraction to get going, but you can do it — and make it enjoyable for them.
11. Call in a cleaning service.
Yeah, this one’s for the moms out there. Why do we love going on vacation? We love feeling pampered. But if you can’t go and be pampered, bring the pampering home to you. Check Care.com or Craigslist for a cleaning service that’s reasonable. Let them worry about the dusting, sweeping, mopping and bed making for a week.
Do you have any tips for a successful staycation?
Btw, there's a pretty nifty tool that motivates your kids to do chores. It's called MyJobChart.com. With a free account, they can earn points for finishing jobs you assign them, good towards free merchandise. Give it a try. It's completely free!