Need to stick close to home during your next school break? Try turning it into a staycation. My staycation tips can help your family have fun, make memories, save money, and enjoy the same benefits of a regular vacation.
My family's spring break travel plans were cancelled during the COVID-19 pandemic. Most local activities were closed and the weather was cold and rainy. We still wanted to make the most of time off from home-based work and school, so we planned a staycation.
Our kids (ages 13 and 15) got involved and we made a list of fun activities. We followed through with many of them and made some fun memories along the way. Our plan wasn't perfect, but it was a whole lot better than “just another week at home.”
A staycation is any home-based vacation. It can save your family thousands of dollars in:
- Airfare, fuel or other transportation
- Hotel or other lodging
- Reduced food expenses
- Pet sitting
That's money you can put toward debt reduction, future travels or other financial goals.
If you plan your staycation well, you can still enjoy many of the same “stronger, smarter, happier” benefits of a regular family vacation. Plus, you'll avoid much of the expense and stress of planning and packing.
Wondering how to get all that from your staycation? Here are my top staycation tips for families.
It's All About Attitude
Your attitude is the biggest difference between a staycation and a typical weekend. You can have a lot of fun and make a lot of great family memories if you treat your staycation like any other vacation.
Your family will probably follow your lead if you approach your staycation with enthusiasm and follow through with a solid, fun-filled plan.
Related: 20+ Activity Ideas for Your Staycation
Set a Budget
The beauty of a staycation is that you don't have to spend a lot of money. However, it will help if you can budget something for activities, food, souvenirs, prizes or other splurges that will make this time feel special.
Here's one example. My family ordered take-out every night on a spring break staycation. This is something that we would have enjoyed on a regular vacation, and it reduced time spent cooking and cleaning up.
Related: Tips for Traveling on a Tiny Budget
Give it Your Full Attention
Make yourself just as unavailable on a staycation as you would be on a regular vacation. Avoid accepting work assignments and outside social obligations.
Agree on rules for phones and other devices. It may be even more tempting to take calls, check emails, text friends or play games on a staycation than a regular vacation. Discuss boundaries that will work for everyone in advance.
On a typical vacation, my family stays busy with activities during the day. We unwind in the evenings in our own ways and spaces – often with our phones and other devices. We used the same rules for our staycation, and usually did our own things in the evenings.
Related: Tips for Making the Most of Groupon
Pick a Theme
A theme can help your family organize your staycation plans, and really set this time apart from a typical weekend at home. You can choose one theme for the entire staycation, or a different theme every day.
I have two teenagers and they each planned their own day of our staycation around a theme they chose. My 13-year-old picked a “Harry Potter” theme that included a movie marathon and homemade butterbeer. My 15-year-old chose a Broadway theme that included karaoke, dressing up for a red carpet premiere, and our own Tony awards.
Other theme ideas include
- Hometown Tourist
- Local Foodie
- International Foods and Activities
- Favorite Book or Movie
- Arts and Crafts
- Outdoor Adventure
Related: 4 Ways to Save on National Park Fees
Make an Itinerary
Planning a fun-filled itinerary is an essential part of our typical family vacations. Do the same thing for your staycation.
Write down all the fun activities your family wants to do and organize them into a day-by-day itinerary.
Clean and Prep in Advance
You wouldn't do a lot of chores on a regular vacation, so avoid them on your staycation. Do all the deep cleaning, yard work, laundry, etc before your staycation begins.
Start with a clean house, and keep chores short and simple during your staycation.
Our family staycation was fun and memorable, and I hope that yours will be too.
If you have other staycation tips that have worked for your family, please share in the comments!
Your kids’ staycation plans sound fun! I’m just wondering if they only lasted a few hours. In that case, do you do something special to make the mornings feel like a staycation, too? Or does everyone relax and do their own thing at home until the designated activities begin that evening? 🙂
Thanks Emily! I have teenagers now, so we did not have early starts… We are often early birds on our vacations – because it’s the best way to beat the crowds – so sleeping in was a treat for us.
We did our activities during the daytime as soon as everyone was ready, and then our evenings were usually free for personal time. Personal time in the evenings is my family’s rhythm on a typical vacation, so we did the same for our staycation.
You can structure your staycation in whatever way works best for your family. As we head into summer, maybe start your morning with a hike or nature walk while the weather is cool. Or maybe buy breakfast foods that will feel special. Just like a regular vacation, you can build as many activities into the day as you’ll have the energy for.