How to take a staycation at home. Here are five cheap and free ideas for your staycation this summer. Being cheap can be fun! |

5 Ideas for a Staycation Vacation

Vacations don’t have to be expensive. Here are five cheap and free ideas for your staycation this summer. Being cheap can be fun!

Guest Post by Stacy from Humorous Homemaking:

There are those people who hold the belief that being on “vacation” from work means that they must leave their home and go somewhere…anywhere. And then there’s me – Cheapo Stacy. When I’m on vacation, I’d rather stay at home. When my husband is on vacation, I’d rather him stay at home.

For some reason, vacations don’t relax me – they drain me. I always need a vacation from my vacation. And since Stacy and her money are not soon parted, I would rather keep my money than spend it on a hotel at the beach. Amen.

If you’re on a budget or saving up all your extra cash for an emergency fund, then you might not have the extra money to spend on a summer vacation. And let’s face it – with the price of gas these days, even going to the grocery store makes me want to cry my eyeballs out.

Take heart! You can still take your vacation from work without going into debt and sending all your money to the Cayman Islands. Just do what we do – take a staycation.

Webster’s dictionary defines a “staycation” as “a vacation spent at home or nearby.” 

First, I must tell you that I’m shocked that this word even has a dictionary definition…but that’s a moot point. Second, I’ll tell you that you can STILL have fun staying at home. Yes, you still have the normal things to do, like laundry and making meals…but you have no real priorities for the day – and you can sleep in (unless you have children who are early risers).

Below I’ll provide you with five cheap and free ideas for your staycation this summer. Being cheap can be fun – I’m living proof of that!

Vacations don't have to be expensive. Here are five cheap and free ideas for your staycation this summer. Being cheap can be fun! |

Five Ideas For Your Staycation

1. Camp out in the back yard.

Our family goes camping every year…to a campground about 20 minutes away. You can do that, or you can just set up a tent in your back yard. Kids LOVE this! You have your food close by, but you can still grill out and eat outside…you can play outside games and have a campfire (unless you live in a condominium unit, then you might get a ticket). AND you don’t have to go pee-pee in a weird potty with lots of bugs on the walls. If you don’t have a tent, borrow one. Or, sleep in sleeping bags on your back deck.

Note: bugs live outside. I just wanted to give you a heads up.

2. Visit local free events.

I find it sad that most people never check out the great local things they have. Instead, they seem to save them for visitors. In my neck of the woods, we have TONS of great things to do – lots of parks and museums that are just plain free. Make plans to take your family to see the local things you’ve never seen. Take them to a factory for a tour (Mayfield Dairy anyone?). Take them hiking at a local park.

Having a hard time finding your local events? Run by your Chamber of Commerce or check out their website. It’s a great resource for this type of information.

3. Visit a theme park that is close by…for the day.

Yes, I realize that this one is not free. But, it’s a lot cheaper than driving to a destination that’s far away and THEN paying for a hotel stay. To make this option even cheaper, pack a cooler full of food so you can avoid restaurants.

Example – for us, Dollywood is a theme park that is easily reachable for a day trip. I’ve been there approximately 1 million times, so I likely won’t go again anytime soon. BUT, they offer the option that if you come after 3pm, your next day is FREE. Several theme parks offer this same deal. Then you can stay overnight in your car or find a cheapo hotel…and every person should have the experience of a cheapo hotel stay.

4. Have themed days at home.

If you’re going to be on “vacation” from work for 7 days, why not make each day themed for the family? One day could be Movie Day where you sit around and watch classic movies and eat popcorn. Another day could be Water Day where you play in the water outside all day – use spray bottles and water balloons…and take a bath. Hey, sometimes a bath IS a luxury.

Another day could be No Electricity Day where you attempt to see how long you can go without using electricity before you lose your mind. For this to work, you might have to flip your breaker box.

Note: The toilet still works when the power is off…thank goodness.

How to take a staycation at home. Here are five cheap and free ideas for your staycation this summer. Being cheap can be fun! |

5. Make a list and do all those things you’ve been “meaning to do when I get around to it.”

For us, this list is extensive. And let’s face it – when you’re working, sometimes those things get neglected. Wouldn’t it be nice to get them all done when you’re not in a hurry? Then you can go back to work and normal life with the satisfaction of knowing that those things are done.

Note: You DO need to make a list. Otherwise you’ll sit around all day and watch television and eat bonbons…then at 9pm you’ll wonder where the day went.

What are some more great ideas for staycations?

Need more affordable vacations or staycation inspiration? Check out these posts you might like:

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    1. At theme parks, I”m the pack mule. I carry stuff while everyone else gets on rides. I have extreme motion sickness. 🙂
      The carousel is the ride for me. Ha!

    1. We are campers as well. Although an initial investment we bought a travel trailer on consignment that serves as our, “home away from home”. For a family of seven, we would have to book two hotel rooms everywhere we go. Camp sites (even in fancier campgrounds) are usually half the price of one room a night! Plus the amenities are great at campgrounds. I think it is the best way to travel. Even on the years we do a “staycation”, we will take a couple days at a local campground.

      1. That’s a great investment. I actually had this thought the other day. We hope to have a larger family (only have one right now), but I thought what happens when you outgrow a hotel room? Never dawned on me to do campsites. My grandparents have always done this, but I never realized why until now. Thanks so much for sharing! I’ll tuck this one away for later use.

  1. Love these! We are all about stay-cations! Your idea on themed days is fun. My kids will love it b/c they are 2 and 1, so we have plenty of time to do fun ideas like this. 🙂 Lauren,

  2. Love these ideas, except maybe the theme park one. I hate being out in the hot sun all day, standing in lines forever and ever only to have a few short moments of fun… followed by a splitting headache. No thank you. We did a staycation a couple years back and had so much fun! There is SO much to do around our area as well, for super cheap and free. Plus people come to our neck of the woods for their vacations, so it makes sense we should vacation here as well 🙂

    1. Oh, I’m a theme park girl all the way! One of my favorite memories growing up was the day trips to the theme park that was near us. We always had so much fun as a family. But I totally get it if it’s not your thing!

      I would totally do staycations if I lived where you are! I get a little jealous hearing about all the activities your do. 😉

  3. I can honestly say that the thought of a staycation does not interest me. We live in Northern Michigan so there really isnt anything “local” around. Maybe its just brainwashing, but I need to be going somewhere ( prefereably south) or it just wont feel like a vacation.

  4. Great ideas! We live in a summer resort area so there are lots of great staycation activities near us. We have a theme park nearby that provides 1 free ticket to school agers each year through a reading incentive program. It’s a great way for our family to go once a year without breaking the bank.


  5. I love these ideas!
    I just had to share this since y’all were talking about riding roller coasters. My mom, sister, niece, and I went to Dollywood in March. Ever since I’ve had kids I’ve been a little afraid of riding things so I mostly just held all their things…like you, Stacy! I did ride one coaster…the newest (I think), the eagle one. I had my eyes closed and was literally praying the whole time! After they rode lots of things I wanted to ride the ferris wheel. They were kinda making fun of me, but they waited in line with me to ride. When we got on my mom and my sister freaked out!! They were terrified, and my niece and I thought it was hilarious!!
    Here’s the youtube video if you need a good laugh!…

  6. Great post! Staying close to home and enjoying stuff in your own area is a great idea. I already know I’m not going anywhere this year with the kids, so I’m thinking of planning a week where I plan a different special activity with them each day. We’ll just PRETEND we’re on vacation. If I can be organized enough, I’ll even cook a few meals in advance so I don’t have to cook during our staycation!

  7. We did staycations for years before they actually had that designation. 🙂

    We would hold a family meeting about what to do during our week. We might choose to hike a nearby mountain, visit an historical tourist attraction, such as a living museum. We visited and learned about farming and the revolutionary war one summer. We’d hold movie nights on our deck by rolling the sleeping bags and tv/vcr out under the stars.

    Lots of communities offer free museum passes to families-you just have to sign up for them. If you live in a smaller rural area, they may also belong to a group that gets passes to bigger city museums.

    A couple of years we took a two week vacation. We worked on a big house project the first week, and rewarded ourselves with fun the second. Great learning experience for the kids!

    There is lots to do that is free or very low cost that creates memories rather than creating more stress and debt.

  8. These are such great ideas! Though #5 doesn’t sound nearly as FUN as the others 🙂 Necessary? Yes. “Blast-and-a-half”? Not so much!

  9. Love your tips……I live in southern California so one good staycation is to visit a different beach every day……and most of the beaches around here always have some kind of events going on so that is just added entertainment!