In these tough economic times many families are finding that the budget just does not include an extended family vacation out of state. But that does not mean that your family cannot still have a fun “Staycation” on the cheap. A “Staycation” can be fun way to show your kids that money does not buy happiness and that there are great things to do right in your own hometown or in nearby cities that cost little to no money.
I am lucky to live in an area rich with touristy things to do since I live near the Black Hills of Wyoming and South Dakota. Our family has been enjoying spending a day a couple of times this summer exploring the wonderful and oftentimes cheap things to do where we live. So far this summer we have enjoyed a trip to Mount Rushmore, Devils Tower, Custer State Park, and we took a ride on a 1800’s train in the Black Hills. Most of our trips have cost under $75 including gas for a family of 6. We also have tried to include closer excursions without leaving our town. While we have a larger camping trip planned here soon to Yellowstone National Park, we are also planning some small excursions to local venues and attractions here in our own home town. Our town offers a museum, a campground, a county fair, a water park located inside a local hotel, recreation center, and an events center that hosts everything from rodeo events to theatre and concert performances.
Following are the steps to planning your family’s Staycation
Step 1: Make a decision about what sort of things your family enjoys. Does your family enjoy camping? Are your kids into dinosaurs? Is your spouse a history buff? Are you into nature? Consider the likes and dislikes of your family so that you can plan the perfect Staycation that the entire family will enjoy.
Some ideas might include:
For the nature buff:
- A trip to the nearest state park, national park, or national wildlife preserve.
- Camping, either in your own back yard or at a campground located in one of the locations above.
- A nature museum.
- A visit to the beach or tide pools.
- A nature walk in the local mountains, desert, or whatever sort of geography you live near.
For the history fan:
- A visit to a local historical site. (Look for forts, battlegrounds, and other historical points of interest.)
- A history museum.
- A tour of a local historical mansion.
For the mad scientist:
- Tar pits
- Archaeological digs
- Natural science museums
For the animal lover:
- Tide Pools
- Animal parks
- State parks, national parks or national wildlife preserves
- Reptile gardens
- Animal rescue sanctuaries
Be creative and think outside of the box when looking for places to and things to do on your Staycation!
Also consider if you will stay in a hotel, campground or just want to plan a day trip and come back home at the end of the day.
Step 2: Research what is around you. Decide if you want to stay within your own city, county or have a travel limit of a certain number of miles away from home that you want to stay within on your Staycation and begin your research about what wonders are around you. If you are planning on staying within your own city begin by finding your local chamber of commerce. Most chamber of commerce’s these days have a website that contains lots of useful information about local businesses and attractions. Another option is to visit the websites of your city, county or state’s tourism departments. Below is a list of all 50 states tourism websites.
If you are going to stay in a hotel or campground make sure that you research where to stay and the best prices. Get your reservations early especially in the summer months as vacancies fill up quicker during peak seasons.
Step 3: Enjoy your Staycation! Pack a travel bag and cooler with the items you will need for your trip such as snacks and drinks from home, a picnic lunch, your camera and anything else you will need. Load up the family in the car and head on out and have fun being a tourist in your own city or state!
Have you taken a staycation recently? What fun things did you and your family do? Let us know in the comments below!