Save Money on Vacation Plans with Frugal Staycation Ideas

I like to travel, but sometimes a vacation just isn’t practical. After all, a vacation can require quite a bit of planning — and expense.  You have to plan airfare (or pay for gas when you take a road trip), pay for hotel stays, and arrange for food.  All of this can become overwhelming as well as costly.  If you want to go on a trip, but know that a full-on vacation isn’t practical, you can plan a staycation.

Here are some ideas for frugal staycations:


This is one of my favorite things to do. Every year I join my siblings and their families, and my parents, on a camping trip.  We meet in out in nature for two days and two nights of fun and adventure.  And it doesn’t cost very much.  For the longest time, my son and I brought our inexpensive two-person tent and surplus sleeping bags.  Everyone chips in to help with food — much of which is fairly inexpensive.  If you are looking for a getaway, camping can be a great choice.

You can also look for outdoor activities around your town.  We have fishing a little ways up the canyon, and plenty of hiking and biking trails.  A rather beautiful lake is only an hour away.  We can spend the day and sleep in our own beds, while saving money.

Local Historical Sites

Lego Indy On VacationYou don’t need to go far to find an interesting outing.  Instead of traveling to famous sites on the other side of the country, find out more about your own local historical flavor.  You might be surprised at what you find.  Take a couple of days to tour around the area.  Most historical sites are free, or have a low entrance fee.  You can even poke around a local museum.  Fun and educational, and you don’t have to bust your budget on a vacation.

Next Town Over

Perhaps you want to stay in a hotel.  If you want to get away, you can go to the next town over — or any town within three or four hours.  Find out what activities might be available in the town.  Then, book a hotel for a night or two.  If you have the budget for it, it can be fun.  One of my neighbors takes her family to the town an hour and a half away.  They stay one night in a budget hotel outfitted with a pool.  They have a great time swimming in the pool, and visiting some of the local attractions.  They hit a low-cost restaurant for dinner.  The hotel’s free continental breakfast takes care of the morning meal.  Lunch is a picnic in the park, thanks to a cooler stocked with drinks, fruit and sandwich stuff.  Then, it’s a short ride home.  It’s a fun, and frugal, trip.

Make Your Home a Staycation Destination

Sometimes, all you and your family need is a break from routine.  Turn your home into a staycation destination.  Pack a picnic lunch in a backpack and take a bike ride to the park to eat and play.  Spread blankets out on the family room floor, and cook s’mores in the microwave.  Watch movies and sleep on the floor.  I remember setting up a tent in my backyard and sleeping outside with my siblings while I was growing up.  We thought it was great fun to pretend expeditions, stargaze, and then wake with the sun in our tent.

With some thoughtful creativity, you can take mini-trips, and plan two or three first-rate staycations over the summer. It will keep you and your kids entertained, and save you money.

What other ideas do you have for a staycation?

Photo by: kennymatic

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Published or updated April 13, 2013.


  1. No Debt MBA says:

    We definitely go camping and have a ton of fun. If you car camp you can bring a ton of food, dessert, alcoholic beverages of choice and a cooler to keep it all at the right temperature as well as plenty of creature comforts like pillows, lights, and extra clothes. If you go backpacking you can get away from everything for usually less than a $5 fee.

    At home we’ve had a lot of fun setting up outdoor movies with friends as a change of pace. On a clear night you can just hook up an extension cord and bring your TV or laptop outside or set up a projector with a sheet or table cloth as a screen if you’re feeling fancy.

  2. My wife works for a company that travels across the country for speaking events. Lucky for us, they needed their tour bus transported from where we live to California! All expenses are paid, and we get to do some great sightseeing along the way! 🙂

  3. Interesting staycations can be very so difficult to find. I love how you mentioned lots of close to home things that most of us would normally miss [ie historical sites]. Another thing you could also do is to just to day trips. An 8 hour trip might feel pretty close to a day in a normal vacation.

    • It’s funny how most people who live in a town don’t visit the historical or touristy places in their town unless visitors are in. Most places have lots of things to do nearby that we don’t take advantage of.

      • Lol, it is pretty ironic that we go out of town to visit other towns historical sites, whilst we never go into our own town to see our own historical sites.

  4. Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager says:

    Staying at a local hotel (with a swimming pool!) and going out for breakfast at a local restaurant. Sure it cost more money than staying at home, but no travel costs save money and think of it as “test driving” hotels for when family or friends come to visit from out of town. Sometimes local hotels give discounts when things are slow anyways.

    • A big part of the fun of vacation is sleeping somewhere new where you don’t have to worry about housework; where you can blast the air without worrying about the electric bill; and you can go swimming pretty much all day!

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