Every couple of years, our family has gone on some epic European adventure, spending up to a month at a time gallivanting around parts unknown. This year, we’re due for another trip, but it just isn’t in the cards.
We tend to go big or stay home, but instead of moping around at home we’re planning a staycation. One that doesn’t suck.
If you haven’t heard the term, a staycation is basically a vacation in your own town. You get to sleep in your own bed with all your creature comforts, but also have the opportunity to get out and about and enjoy local attractions and fun.
Staycations were all the rage in the wake of the last recession and continue to be a great way to stop and smell the roses while paying less than you would on a full-blown vacation.
Here’s how I’m planning a staycation worthy of staying home for.
1. I’m looking at my town through the lens of a traveler.
TripAdvisor is my go-to app for planning European vacations, so I’m browsing through its San Diego pages for things that, as locals, we’ve somehow overlooked. My bookmarks include iconic restaurants, historic sites, and lots of nature. (Nature is usually free of charge, so it’s a great way to keep our costs low, even on a staycation.)
2. We’re planning a family day at the ball park.
The Padres host noon games on Wednesdays, the perfect time to catch a game without fighting huge weekend crowds. Planning ahead allows us to look for deals on seats so that we can splurge at the concession stand, which at Petco Park is above and beyond your wildest dreams. The views are amazing, too, so even when we’re not watching the ball, we can take in the sights.
3. I’m budgeting more money to eat out.
We normally have most of our meals at home, but for a staycation I want us to have the freedom to enjoy a carefree meal out on the town. My daughters and I are even planning an outing to a local tea house with friends. Working it into the budget now allows us to say yes whenever the mood strikes us.
4. I’m also increasing my grocery budget.
A bona fide vacation requires a stop at Trader Joe’s to let everyone stock up on their favorite fun foods. It’s nice to have something yummy for packing to the beach or the hiking trail. It makes sense that we do the same, even if those beaches and trails are closer to home. I’m letting our grocery budget slide a bit in order to allow for some staycation splurges.
5. I’m making an alternative to the vending machine allowance.
Ever since my kids were little, we’ve doled out a vending machine allowance when on vacation. For kids who have to eat whatever Mom dishes out 24/7, it’s a nice opportunity to give them some choice in their snacking habits. Because I don’t plan on getting a vending machine in our backyard, I’m building a stash of snacks so that my kids can enjoy a similar freedom during our staycation.
6. I’m filling my freezer.
Meals out and snack foods can get boring after a while, but that doesn’t mean I want to cook when I’m on vacation. I take freezer meals on vacation, so why not have them ready for a staycation? I’ll be stashing my favorite low-fuss meals in the freezer so we can enjoy home cooking at home — and I still get a vacation.
7. We’re taking a food tour.
Okay, so I might be too cheap to pay $60 per person for an official guided food tour, but that doesn’t mean we can’t hop around town, sampling some of the best fish tacos in San Diego. Whether self-guided or paid, a food tour can be a fun way to get a taste of the town.
See? Staycation planning can be pretty awesome! Yes, I live in a destination location, so you may think that a staycation in your town might not be so spectacular. But I’m gonna bet that you can find some fabulous meals, great drinks, and fantastic day trips within a couple hours of your house. Even if you go in search for the perfect burger in your city, you’ll have a delicious time. Give it a go this summer!
What do you to do make staycations more fun? Leave your ideas in the comments below.