When I was growing up every summer we had staycations, yet for some reason I always felt like we were going on a wonderful family vacation! Luckily, I grew up in an area that had beaches, parks, and tourist attractions. But no matter where you live, you can create a staycation to replace a big, expensive vacation.
It’s all in the planning, but sometimes it’s easy to get stuck in a rut! To get you started, here are 10 family staycation ideas that can be done on a budget.
Even if your staycation isn’t free, it’s worth it for you and your family to venture out anyway. Find out why vacation spending is totally worth the cost here!
Idea #1: Check out cities nearby
Check for deals at hotels in your neighboring cities. You can look at sites like Expedia or Travelocity for hotel deals, and be sure to check for coupon codes to save even more off of the already low prices!
Idea #2: Book a hotel with a pool
Consider taking the family to a local city (or stay in your own), but book a hotel with a pool so the kids can enjoy the water. Many hotels also offer complimentary breakfasts for the family. More savings!
Along with checking booking sites for hotel deals, don’t be afraid to go directly to the hotel’s website. Hotel chains regularly offer some pretty amazing deals, and you can also check online for coupon codes for hotels like Hyatt, Marriott, and Hilton.
Idea #3: Go camping at a local state park
State parks with lodges and campgrounds offer great options for families. Check in advance to see if there are any upcoming specials or if booking a weekday will cut the cost. Another advantage to camping out is you don’t have to dine out! You can bring your own food and cook it up on the campfire or grill!
Idea #4: Check for restaurant savings
If you do decide to take the family out to dinner, check out our list of more than 100 restaurants to see what restaurants in your area offer free nights for kids to eat!
This is a great way for a family to enjoy a restaurant meal for a fraction of the cost, and if your child’s favorite restaurant didn’t make the list, you can still cut costs by taking the family to a restaurant that offers cash back. Just plug in your destination zip code to start browsing local eateries!
Idea #5: Check for credit card travel perks
Check your credit card for travel perks or discounts at local attractions when you use the card. The same goes for checking with any memberships to warehouse stores or even credit unions. Many times, these types of organizations will negotiate great discounts for their members. Take advantage of these programs!
Idea #6: Get the scoop on events
State and local government websites will let you know what is going on in the area you’re visiting. If you’re having trouble finding yours, check this full list of state websites.
You can find free and low cost activities in every state. Don’t believe us? Check out our list of more than 52 low cost and free activities for families like yours!
Idea #7: Swap backyards
Grab a tent and some sleeping bags and escape to your neighbor’s backyard! Find another family in the neighborhood and swap backyards for the night. Kids love to campout and you can make s’mores and tell stories while creating a special night. Both families will feel like they’re miles away even though you may be right next door to your house.
Get those s’mores ready! Here are 9 different variations of this classic campfire recipe we just can’t wait to try!
Idea #8: Take advantage of museum memberships
Photo by Evikka
One of my favorite tips of all time is to utilize a family membership to one museum and gain access to hundreds more!
What many people don’t realize is many times if you buy a family membership to a museum or educational venue, you can get free or low-cost admission to hundreds of others. So, when you’re creating a staycation build it around what venues you can get into with the family.
Idea #9: Check out local cities for free tours
Photo by ChameleonsEye
There might be local businesses that offer tours of their manufacturing plants. In the city I grew up in, there was a teddy bear manufacturer. They would offer tours to show how the teddy bears were put together.
Idea #10: Get in touch with your local Parks & Rec Department
Check with your local Parks and Recreation Department to see what free summer programs will be offered. Many have free outdoor movie nights or concerts, exhibits, and even daycamps and kid-friendly activities.
Put all your ideas together
So, here would be an example of a two-day, one-night staycation using some of my tips:
- Pick a local city and check into a hotel. Play by the pool while you enjoy a brown bag lunch with the family.
- Get cleaned up and head over to a local museum. After a few hours there, head to a local park for an outdoor concert while you enjoy a picnic.
- Then it’s back to the hotel while you watch a rental movie in bed. (But check with the hotel front desk first because many times they have complimentary DVDs!)
- Wake-up to a complimentary breakfast for the family. Then pack up and check out before heading to a local business for a fun tour.
- Grab lunch at a restaurant where the kids eat free. After lunch, stop by one last local attraction before heading home from your staycation!
The bottom line is, no matter where you go, as long as you’re spending time with your kids they’re happy! So, don’t feel you need to go far or spend money to create a memorable vacation.
Your turn! Do you have any smart tips or advice for taking a memorable family staycation on a budget? Share them with us in the comments below!