Let’s face it: that exotic vacation you’ve been dreaming about might not ever happen. Add a significant other or kids to the mix, and you can easily triple your expense. Suddenly your getaway is getting lost in the reality of “I can’t do this!”

Not to worry. The benefit of planning a staycation is that you don’t have to travel halfway around the globe to have an amazing vacation. No matter where you live, there are things to do and places to explore that you haven’t yet discovered. With a little planning, you can have a fantastic vacation no matter how near or far you go. And you can save some money, too!

So how do you make a cheap staycation fun and memorable? Here are some ideas to get you started:

Pretend that your home is actually a vacation rental. Which means that you aren’t using your time off to mow the lawn or repair that hole in the drywall. This is your time to relax, not run errands or pay bills or mop the floor.

Check with your local chamber or visitor’s bureau. They’ll have brochures and magazines (usually both online and in print) highlighting the best of what your area has to offer, including day trips to nearby attractions. Set aside time to explore the things that make your area unique.

Try some new restaurants. You might be tempted to stick with your old favorites, but this is a great time to try something different. Ask for recommendations (or just check with Yelp) and then take a chance, just like you would if you were visiting a new town.

Pamper yourself. Many spa and massage places will even offer discounts for locals, something you wouldn’t be able to take advantage of if you were traveling.

Do the tourist thing. Rent a surrey bicycle, go horseback riding, do a zip line tour, go parasailing, take a balloon ride, do a champagne cruise, go on a snowmobile tour. Support your local businesses by doing some of the fun touristy activities you would have enjoyed on vacation. Once again, you might be able to take advantage of a locals discount.

My Paint Nite creation
My Paint Nite creation

Take a class. You don’t have to go to Florence to learn how to make a pizza. And wine country isn’t the only place offering tours and tastings. Community colleges, cooking schools and even Airbnb offer one-day experiences that let you learn or improve your skills at baking, photography, painting, scrapbooking and many other hobbies.

Watch the sunrise or sunset. Most of us don’t take time to watch the sunrise or sunset when we’re at home. It’s such a leisurely vacation thing to do. So make the most of this time to enjoy the simple pleasure of watching the sun sink below the horizon or seeing it rise in the east. It’s a beautiful experience and it’s completely free.

Even a short staycation can bring you the benefit of that “vacation high,” and it takes far less planning (and money!) to make it happen. So what are you waiting for? Make that ultimate staycation a reality!

Have you ever taken a vacation at home? Share your tips in the comments!

Pinterest link with tips for planning a staycation

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