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51 Creative Staycation Ideas That’ll Save You Money

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Summer is a great time to take a vacation, but it can get expensive, fast. Did you know that 75% of Americans have gone into debt at some point in their lives in order to pay for a vacation? Don’t let this be you! If you’re looking for staycation ideas that won’t break the bank, we’ve got 51 creative money-saving staycation ideas for you.

Staycations are a great way to stay on budget while still having fun and getting away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. There are many fun staycation ideas to choose from, the only limit is your own imagination!

“What can I do for a staycation?” you ask?

If you are looking for some vacation-at-home ideas that are both fun and budget-friendly, here are 51 of the best staycation ideas you can try today!

graphic of couple enjoying a staycation at home

What is a staycation?

Simply put, a staycation is a stay-at-home vacation. Staycations can also incorporate local trips within a short distance from your home.

A staycation differs from a vacation in that you stay close to home, so you don’t have to travel very far.

What is the point of 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.

Ways staycations are cheaper than vacations

One of the main reasons why staycations are becoming more popular (especially in today’s economy) is because they are so much cheaper than vacations.

Some of the most common ways to save money by taking a staycation include:

  1. Staycations allow you to stay close to home. When you take a staycation, you don’t have to travel far, which can save you a lot of money on transportation costs.
  2. You save a ton of money by eating (most of your meals) at home. When you’re on vacation, you often have to eat out, which can be expensive. When you’re on a staycation, you can eat at home, which can save you a lot of money.
  3. You can skip the expensive transportation costs. If you’re on vacation, you often have to rent a car or take taxis. When you take a staycation, you can drive your own car or use public transportation, which is, of course, cheaper.
  4. Free local activities. There are often many free activities in your own town that you can do in when you’re on a staycation, which can help you save a lot of money.
  5. Staying at home or in an Airbnb. When you’re on vacation, you usually have to stay at a resort or luxury hotel, which can add up fast. When you’re on a staycation, you can stay in the comfort of your own home or an affordable Airbnb, which can be much cheaper.

How do you make a staycation feel special?

There are many ways to make your staycation more creative and fun without breaking the bank.

Break up your normal routine

One of the best ways to make your staycation more fun is to be more spontaneous. Challenge yourself to try new foods, meet new people, and experience new adventures.

Go crazy

Staycations present new opportunities to do things you wouldn’t normally do. Why not eat dessert for breakfast, have an indoor picnic, or host your own film festival outside with a rented (or borrowed) movie projector?

Pretend you’re a tourist

When you’re on vacation, one of the best things to do is play tourist. You can pretend you know nothing about your city and explore it with fresh eyes. Take a bike ride around town and take the time to explore new destinations.

Invite your friends

If you’re on a staycation with friends or family, why not plan a staycation party? This can be a great way to spend quality time with people you love being around.

Tips for staying on budget during your staycation

If you want to stay on budget during your staycation, here are a few tips to help you out:

Set a budget

One of the best ways to stay on budget is to set a budget and stick to it.

At a minimum, you’ll want to budget for:

  • Food
  • Lodging (if staying away from home)
  • Gas
  • Gear/Supplies
  • Entertainment

Find local deals

There are often many staycation deals available, which can help you save money. This could be anything from discounts on hotels to free activities.

Bring your own food

When you’re on a staycation, you can save money by bringing your own food. This means packing snacks and meals for the day.

Avoid expensive tourist attractions

There are many expensive activities that you can do when you’re on a staycation. However, If your goal is to stay on budget, you’ll need to come up with creative alternatives.

Use coupons

If you’re going to be doing any shopping on your staycation, be sure to use coupons. This can help you save a lot of money.

Go out to eat during ‘senior’ hours

You’ll find that many local restaurants offer happy hour specials and early bird pricing between the hours of 3-5.

Have a plan

I’m not saying you need to schedule out every minute of your staycation, but, in order to save money, you should do a little upfront research into the potential costs of any activities you hope to try, so you don’t blow your budget.

graphic of woman with a drink in her hand lounging in chair by pool summer staycation ideas

Summer staycation ideas

If you’re looking for some hometown staycation ideas for your summer vacation, here are a few to get you started.

Have a picnic

One of the best things to do in the summer is to have a picnic at a nearby park. This is a great way to enjoy the weather and save money.

Go to the beach

Another relaxing yet inexpensive summer staycation idea is to take a day trip to the beach (if you are lucky enough to live near one). This is a great way to relax, get away, and enjoy the sun.

If you don’t live within driving distance to the beach, you can substitute your local pool instead.

Visit a national park

If you’re looking for a more adventurous staycation, why not visit a national park? This is a great way to explore nature and see some amazing sights along the way.

Take a road trip

A road trip is a great way to explore a lot of different places during your staycation. This could be anything from driving to a nearby city or even touring your own city from the comfort of your own vehicle.

Go birdwatching

Birdwatching is a great way to get outside and enjoy nature. This is a great activity which the whole family can enjoy.

Take a boat tour

If you’re fortunate enough to live near a decent-sized body of water (land-locked Coloradian here). You can charter a boat and spend a day relaxing on the water.

Challenge your friends

If you’re athletic, you can set up a weekend sports tournament with your friends. This is a great way to stay active, have fun, and spend time with your friends.

Visit a farmer’s market

One of the best things to do during the summer is to visit a farmer’s market. This is a great way to meet your neighbors and get fresh fruits and vegetables.

Organize a family reunion

Another fun summer staycation idea is to organize a family reunion in your own hometown. You can invite nearby family members, organize an outdoor potluck meal, and spend the day reminiscing and enjoying each others’ company.

graphic of woman with a cat laying on a blanket enjoying a picnic solo staycation ideas

Solo staycation ideas

There are many reasons why a single person may want to take a staycation. One reason is that it can be a great way to save money. Plus, you can use the opportunity to get out and meet new people.

If you’re looking for staycation ideas for one person, here are some creative ideas.

Visit local museums

Museums are treasure troves of knowledge and wonders. You can see amazing works of art, learn more about history and culture, and enjoy guided tours all for one low price.

Take a cooking class

One great way to spend a staycation is by learning how to cook. This could be anything from taking a sushi-making class to learning how to make your own pasta.

Visit a film festival

If you love movies, why not visit a film festival? This is a great way to see new and independent films.

Take a dance class

If you love to dance, or even if you think you might love to dance, but have never tried, why not take a dance class? This is a fun way to stay fit and meet new people.

Sign up for a wine-tasting event

If you’re a fan of wine, why not learn more about it by signing up for a wine-tasting event? This is an inexpensive way to sample different wines and learn more about something you already enjoy.

Explore your city

If you live in a big city, there’s a good chance that you haven’t seen everything it has to offer. Why not explore your city during your staycation?

You can explore new neighborhoods, check out the local nightlife, or simply take a walk around the block and say “hi” to your neighbors.

Take a day trip

If you’re looking for a staycation idea that is a little bit more adventurous, why not take a day trip? You can take a trip to the great outdoors or explore local shops and attractions.

Work on a project

If you’ve been meaning to start a project (or finish a project you’ve already started), but never seem to have the time, why not use your staycation as an opportunity to get stuff done?

Volunteer

If you’re looking for staycation ideas that are both fun and meaningful, why not volunteer at a local homeless or pet shelter? This is a great way to give back to the community while creating a sense of connection at the same time.

Immerse yourself in a new culture

Set aside a day to listen to music, read books, watch movies, and try new foods from a culture that you’re unfamiliar with. This is a great way to build your cultural awareness and step outside your comfort zone for very little money.

graphic of happy couple jumping on bed romantic staycation ideas for couples

Romantic staycation ideas for couples

Making time for your significant other is important, regardless of how much money you have. Spending time together can help strengthen your relationship and keep it healthy.

If you’re looking for staycation ideas for couples without kids, here are a few romantic ideas.

Stay in a local bed and breakfast

One of the best ways to feel like you’re getting away, without actually going away, is to stay in a local bed and breakfast. This is a great way to relax and feel like you’re in a different place.

Have a picnic

Having a picnic is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and spend time together. You can pack a lunch and head to your local park for a romantic picnic lunch.

Make dinner together

Making dinner together is a great way to spend some quality time together. You can cook your favorite meal or order a meal kit.

Escape room

Escape rooms encourage teamwork and build listening skills. Plus, they are just so much fun!

Go for a hike

If you’re looking for something a little more physical, why not go for a hike? Many national parks offer free (or cheap) admission and are great places to learn about local plants and animals

Recreate your honeymoon…at home

Start by ordering in (or cooking) a romantic dinner for two. Take a stroll around the neighborhood (make sure to hold hands). Take some time to remember your wedding and honeymoon. Look through old photos and videos and talk about and reflect on your favorite romantic/funny moments.

Finish up the evening with a movie (the sappy-er the better) in bed.

Snuggle up and read to each other

When we were dating, my (now) husband would read out loud to me. It didn’t matter if he was reading a classic novel or the newspaper. I always loved falling asleep to his voice.

Get a couples’ massage

A relaxing massage can sometimes be better than going away on vacation. In my area, a 30-minute massage costs $40. But, I always feel like a million dollars when I leave.

Rent a nearby Airbnb

Many Airbnb rentals are cheaper than hotels (and less crowded). If possible, make a weekday reservation in the off-season to save more money.

Try to book the most creative (tiny house, haunted house) location possible for added fun!

Learn something new…together

There are so many online classes and DIY kits you can complete in a weekend.

Here are a few ideas:

graphic of family camping in their backyard staycation ideas for families

Staycation ideas for families

It can be expensive to take a family vacation. Not only do you have to pay for plane tickets, hotel rooms, and pricey restaurant food, but you may also have to deal with the stress that comes with traveling with younger kids.

If you’re looking for staycation ideas for families with kids, here are some creative ideas.

Visit a local amusement park

If your kids are always begging to go to an amusement park, why not visit one during your staycation? You can save money by going to local attractions, which allows you to save money on the ticket prices at out-of-state parks.

Have a movie marathon

What’s more fun than having a movie night with your family? You can make popcorn and snacks and enjoy spending time together.

Visit a museum

When our kids were young, my husband and I liked to incorporate at least one educational element per trip.

For example, a week-long trip to Disney would also include a few hours at a local museum.

Eventually, our kids caught on to our trick and demanded we stop the practice.

Have a family game night

One of the best (cheap) ways to spend time with your friends and family is to have a game night. You can play classic board games like Monopoly or charades or try out new, more complicated games like Trivial Pursuit or Settlers of Catan.

Make homemade pizzas

Making homemade pizzas is a great way to spend time with your family. You can make the dough from scratch or buy it pre-made. Then, everyone can top their pizza with their favorite toppings.

Try geocaching

Geocaching is a great way to explore your local surroundings. It’s like a real-world, outdoor treasure hunt in your own backyard.

Participants use GPS-enabled devices to navigate to cleverly hidden containers, called “geocaches” or “caches.”

Caches can be found in a variety of locations, including parks, forests, urban areas, and even underwater.

If you’re looking for something fun to do with your family, geocaching is a great option.

Go camping

Even if it’s in your own backyard, camping is a fun, cheap way to spend your family staycation.

If you don’t own any camping gear, save money by asking to borrow some from your friends and family members.

Set up your own waterpark

Invest in a few inflatable pools, squirt guns, water balloons, and plastic sheeting (for a slip n slide), and go crazy!

Go on a scavenger hunt

Scavenger hunts are a great way to spend time with the family without spending a lot of money.

You can create your own hunt or buy a pre-made one.

To set up a scavenger hunt:

  1. Set up a pre-defined parameter
  2. Hide objects
  3. Create clues to their locations
  4. Set a timer
  5. Start the hunt

Get crafty

It’s a well-known fact that kids (young and old) love to make stuff.

So, break out the craft supplies and let your family members make their own masterpieces.

Here are a few ideas:

Embrace Tik Tok trends

Okay, I KNOW I’m going to catch some heat for this one, but, before you scream “No way!” hear me out.

I’m not saying you should dangle your phone over an elevator shaft or put Gorilla glue in your hair.

Seriously though, there are some really funny/heartwarming Tik Tok challenges you can do with your kids.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Meme maker- Recreate real-life skits of funny memes
  • Isn’t this easy- Film yourself doing something that most people can’t (seem to) do
  • As it was- Create a ‘throwback’ track showing how you’ve changed over the last 5 years
  • Tell me without telling me- The goal of this challenge is to communicate a statement without using words. For example, one person tells another person to “Tell me you shrunk my favorite shirt in the laundry without actually telling me you shrunk my favorite shirt in the laundry.”
graphic of woman holding birthday gift birthday staycation ideas

Birthday Staycation Ideas

If you want to celebrate your birthday, you don’t have to go on an expensive vacation. You can stay home and pamper yourself instead.

Here are a few ideas to celebrate your birthday on the cheap.

Have a picnic in your backyard

Invite your friends and family over (tell them to bring their favorite picnic foods), lay down some blankets, and dig in.

Make a cake and eat it in your pajamas

This one just speaks for itself, doesn’t it?

Spend a weekend trying out a new hobby

Have you always wanted to learn how to knit, play the drums, paint eye-catching masterpieces, or take stunning photos? Why not use your birthday as an excuse to finally invest in yourself?

You may even discover a new craft that you can turn into a money-making side hustle in the process!

At-home spa day

Pamper yourself with an at-home spa day. Give yourself a mani/pedi, put on a face mask, light some candles, and take a long, relaxing bath. Trust me, you deserve it.

Have a staycation movie marathon

Pick out your favorite movies (or TV shows), make some popcorn, and curl up on the couch for a staycation movie marathon.

Bonus points if you make it through an entire movie without checking your phone once!

Be fancy

Invite a few friends over, dust off your old prom dress, lay out some fancy finger foods, pour some wine, and spend the night communicating in your best ‘snob’ voice.

Treat yourself to a good night’s sleep

Spend an evening creating the perfect relaxing atmosphere. Dim the lights, light some candles, take a bubble bath, listen to some jazz, put on your most comfy pajamas (or buy some new ones for the occasion), apply a sleep mask, and turn in early.

Is it just me, or does this just sound like a self-care activity you shouldn’t wait for your birthday to try?

Spend an entire day outside

For those of us who spend the majority of our days working indoors, being able to spend an entire day outside sounds like heaven!

You can:

  • Take a trip to the beach
  • Go for a hike
  • Check out the local dog park with your pooch
  • Spend the day at an outdoor cafe with the latest bestseller
  • Watch a live sporting event (even if it’s Little League)

Support local artists

Spend a day or a weekend seeking out local artistic venues such as live music festivals, art shows, or poetry readings and build your cultural repertoire.

Explore a nearby city

Just because you’re on a staycation doesn’t mean you can’t explore. If there’s a nearby city that you’ve always wanted to visit, now’s your chance!

Do some research beforehand to find the best spots and make sure you hit them all while you’re there.

Visit a farmer’s market

Browse through fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, and other handmade goods while getting to know the people who grew or made them.

And, if you’re feeling extra ambitious, you can even pick up some ingredients to cook a delicious meal with later.

graphic of bed designed to look like a beach with the word staycation on it

Tips for making a staycation feel more like a vacation

An important thing to remember is that ‘going on’ a staycation shouldn’t feel like a punishment for failing to budget properly for a ‘real’ vacation.

If you set it up right, a staycation can actually end up being even more relaxing than a traditional vacation.

Here are a few tips to make sure your staycation is as enjoyable as possible:

Set some boundaries with work

If you’re working from home during your staycation, it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you can get just a little bit of work done here and there.

Before you know it, you’re working all day and your staycation has become just another workday.

To avoid this, set some strict boundaries with yourself (and your boss, if possible) and make sure you stick to them.

Hire someone to clean your home before your staycation begins

This may seem like an unnecessary expense, but, trust me, it’s worth it!

No one wants to spend their staycation cleaning the house.

Hire a professional to clean your home from top to bottom so you can relax and enjoy your time off.

Invest in some comfortable (and stylish) loungewear

One of the best things about staycations is that you can spend the entire day in your PJs if you want to.

But, why not take it a step further and invest in some comfortable (and stylish) loungewear that you’ll actually want to be seen in?

You may never want to leave the house again!

Step outside your comfort zone

Taking a staycation is the perfect opportunity to try something new.

If there’s an activity you’ve always wanted to do but never had the time for, a staycation is your chance to finally give it a go.

Who knows, you may find a new hobby that you absolutely love!

Make your staycation special by treating yourself to a few special items or experiences

Even though the ultimate goal of a staycation may be to save money, you can still allow yourself a few ‘little’ splurges in order to elevate the experience.

For example, you can:

  • Buy yourself a new outfit to wear during your staycation
  • Purchase new bed linens (the higher the thread count, the better)
  • Get a massage, mani/pedi, or other spa treatment
  • Buy tickets to a nearby show or a museum
  • Cook yourself a gourmet meal (or order one and have it delivered)

Whatever you decide to do, the important thing is to make sure you enjoy your staycation! With a little planning (and a lot of relaxation), you’re sure to have a great time.

So, what are you waiting for? Go plan your staycation today!

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