Summer’s a time of year when most of us are thinking about relaxing, fun in the sun and traveling, but what is one to do when the funds just aren’t there. Should we get depressed and think there’s nothing we can do but sit at home and feel sorry for ourselves? Absolutely not! There’s so many budget friendly staycation ideas, no matter where we are and what our budgets may allow.
Life is what you make it and you don’t have to be rich to have a blast!
Don’t think that the only people having fun are the ones that are on European vacations, taking a cruise or going to Disneyland. I can assure you that they may be paying dearly for that “awesome” vacation!
With the way the world is today, many are choosing to stay closer to home and with good reason. We have been limited either by what our budgets allow, travel restrictions or health, but that doesn’t mean we can have fun.
My children’ fondest memories are some of the most simple and budget friendly vacations that we had.
If you’re budget’s tight this year, no worries! Here are some excellent budget friendly staycation ideas that you and your family will remember, for years to come!
*This post may contain affiliate links, which means that if you buy a suggested product, I will earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you. For more information, see my disclosure page.
Have a plan
Just because you’re staying close to home doesn’t mean you don’t need a plan. You need to know how much you can or can’t spend, what type of itinerary you’ll have and how long you plan to be on staycation. Here are some things to keep in mind when your planning your staycation:
What’s your budget?
Whether you have $0 to spend or a couple hundred bucks, you need to make sure you have a budget for your staycation. When you set your budget, make sure to stick to it.
If you start planning your staycation early enough (a month or two out), this should give you time to sock away a few dollars in case you might want to eat a meal or two out or just have a little bit of spending money for whatever you may want to do.
Pick a theme
You don’t HAVE to do this, but it may be kinda fun for you and the fam to pick out some things that they may enjoy. If you love the beach, plan some time to get wet! Whether it’s the local swimming pool, backyard water games or a day trip to the nearest beach or lake, work this into the staycation plans.
If you dream of a Disneyland vacation but it’s not in budget right now, have a Disney themed staycation! Have a movie day/night with your favorite Disney movies, decor and food! So many possibilities with this one!
Other themes could be Italy with Italian food, wine, Italian pastries, etc. You can also do Hawaii, France or Germany with coordinating food & beverages.
You can pick a theme for the whole staycation or you could even pick a different theme everyday. If you have kids, I’m sure they would be happy to help you with plenty of ideas.
Look locally for deals
Check out your local chamber of commerce for upcoming events in your area. You can also check Groupon for discounted prices on local places & events such as museums, theme parks, aquariums, zoo’s, etc. Just remember to start planning ahead.
get the housework out of the way
Try and make it a point to get as much of the household chores done before your staycation starts or it won’t feel like a vacation. This may mean changing sheets on the beds, dusting, vacuuming and getting the laundry done. Vacationing usually means a change of scenery, but when you’re staying at home, you need to try and make your home as comfy & cozy as you can.
You could even put out fresh flowers, fresh scented candles, nice towels & pretty dishes. Of course, if you’re not wanting to wash too many dishes, you could always opt for paper plates to make things a bit easier.
plan to be “off”
A staycation should be treated the same as a vacation. The sole purpose is to relax and have fun just as you would if you were having a destination vacation. You need to plan to “unplug” whether it’s from work, the news, social media or your cell phone.
20 budget friendly staycation ideas:
Below are some of the best budget friendly staycation ideas, even if you have limited funds. They range from free to moderately priced, but there’s definitely something for everyone. Check them out and see which ones you would like to try for lots of budget friendly fun and excitement!
Tour your own city or town
This has been one of my favorite things to do! We live in a very historical part of Texas so there are so many places to visit & sightsee in our area. Washington-On-The-Brazos is known as the birthplace of Texas and it’s about a 20-30 minute trip from our home. Even though our town is considered small by today’s standards, we have museums, wineries, a living history farm, a lavender farm, a farmer’s market, beautiful B&B’s, a llama farm, local festivals and a host of other places to see and visit.
We are also only an hour away from Austin & Houston so there’s no shortage of things to do if we don’t mind traveling about an hour each way.
You only have to look around and see what’s going on. I know that when you’ve lived in an area for a while, sometimes we get so busy that we don’t take the time to explore what’s right under our noses. Once you start looking around your area, you may be pleasantly surprised at what you’ve been missing.
Also, check your local Chamber of Commerce for their calendar on local events.
take a factory tour
What better way to appreciate American imagination and industry than to visit & tour America at work! Factory Tours USA will let you choose your state and give you a list of factories/businesses that will let you come in and tour the facility, see the factory at work and what it has to offer. This is a fantastic opportunity for children and adults, alike!
have a spa day/night
Take some time to pamper yourself. Go to your pantry and refrigerator and make a face mask or a hair mask, grab your mani/pedi supplies and some nail polish and give yourself a manicure/pedicure. To make it even more fun, invite a couple of your best friends over or make it a spa day with your sweetie.
go to the local pool
When my children were younger, we were members of our local Elk’s Lodge. We joined for the use of the pool and the yearly membership dues were extremely cheap and it was less than a mile from our house. That membership more than paid for itself and my children thoroughly enjoyed it.
Our town recently put a beautiful splash pad in at one of our local parks and it’s FREE! I wish we would’ve had this when my kids were little.
Who doesn’t love a waterpark? Yes, it may cost you a little bit of money, but you can pack a lunch and spend the day having a blast! It doesn’t even come close to what you’d spend at Disney. Waterpark.org will give you an extensive list of every water park in every state and worldwide.
visit a national park
You can Find A Park for every state in the country, but not only for national parks. This site will also show you national monuments, seashores, preserves and memorials! It’s an extensive list and when you choose a destination, you can plan your visit by clicking on the destination of choice, then clicking “plan your visit”. Everything you need to know on one site!
visit friends/family in another town
If you can’t afford a hotel, this may be the next best thing! We would never want to impose on anyone, but if you’re close enough with your friends or family, maybe suggest a short visit or even offer to swap houses.
Do an at-home project
While you may not want to spend your staycation doing chores, you may want to take this opportunity to complete a project you’ve been wanting to tackle. This is one of my favorite, productive staycation ideas on this list. Some ideas could include:
- Paint a piece of furniture
- Clean out your garage
- Rearrange your furniture in a room for a fresh, new look.
- Purge your closet
- Declutter and organize a room
- Plant a flower, vegetable or herb garden
visit a local winery
This is something that we really enjoy doing. We are lucky enough to have several wineries close by so we decided to have a date day one Friday and visited two wineries in a neighboring town. We pretty much know what we like to drink, so we each ordered a glass and then had a light lunch at the food truck that was on the winery property. The wine was good and the lunch was delicious!
If you’re not sure what you would like, you can get a tasting…usually 5-6 different wines…for around $15 each.
Both wineries we visited had a nice patio area to sit and relax and one even had a beautiful resident peacock named Mr. P!
If wine tasting at a winery is out of your budget or you don’t live near a winery then grab a few of your friends and have your own wine tasting at home! Ask everyone to bring over their favorite bottle of wine and you can serve snacks for your guests, such as fruit, nuts, cheese, crackers, olives and/or pretzels. This can be so much fun and doing it this way can be totally affordable!
go on a picnic
This can be as simple as packing some sandwiches, chips and drinks into a Picnic Basket and heading to the nearest park. We have three local city parks where we live, complete with playgrounds and walking paths/tracks. This is particularly great for children because a picnic is always fun for them!
Camping is at the top of my list for budget friendly staycation ideas because it’s something that we still do. We have an RV that we thoroughly enjoy and it has allowed us to do some extensive traveling. Most RV parks are less than half the cost of hotel rooms and depending on where you stay, open up so many opportunities to spend precious time with your loved ones.
If you don’t have an RV, a Camping Tent is also an even cheaper option. Tent sites in most RV parks are even cheaper than full hook up RV sites.
If traveling isn’t an option, have a backyard campout! It’s not all about location. Camping out is camping out, no matter where you are! Be sure to throw in some s’mores and a few ghost stories.
take a hike
It doesn’t matter if you’re an experienced hiker or a novice, hiking can be added to the list of great, budget friendly staycation ideas. Hiking the great outdoors and enjoying nature’s beauty is fun!
You can search online for trails near you or check out state or national parks. If you just want to take a nice walk or can’t do a difficult hike, maybe choose a local city park.
have a game night
If you enjoy board games, then this can be right up your alley! Some of my favorites are Scrabble, Yahtzee & Trivial Pursuit . Another favorite is Charades & Password. There are so many games to choose from and can be hours of side splitting fun!
learn a new hobby
I can’t think of a better time to try out a new hobby than when you’re having a staycation! Are there some things that you’ve been wanting to learn how to do, but can’t seem to find the time? Well, this may be your perfect chance!
Want to learn to paint? Check and see if your town/city has a Fine Arts League. Many offer classes in every kind of medium there is like acrylics, oils & watercolor. Youtube is also a great resource for learning how to paint as well as other crafts like crocheting, painting furniture, woodworking, etc.
Maybe try and learn a new language. If you have an iPhone or iPad, go to the app store and look for FREE language apps. I have used Duolingo and it’s great!
Giving your time is as valuable (if not more so) as giving money. Are there any causes that you’re passionate about? Some that come to mind are retirement/nursing homes, food banks, animal rescue centers and your local library.
I’m sure there’s plenty more that would appreciate your time and volunteering can be a wonderful way to give back to your community and it’s probably one of the most budget friendly staycation ideas, because it doesn’t cost a dime.
check out local festivals
Many times throughout the year, you can find festivals, antique fairs & craft shows happening, especially in small towns. Admission can range from FREE to $5.00 and you can spend the day browsing & discovering the works of artisans & crafters, antiquing and having fun!
You never know what you’re going to find at one of these shows because they’re so diverse. Personally, I go for creative ideas and decorating inspiration. I also go armed with my Christmas/birthday list, a budget & cash. I love supporting small businesses and festivals are great places to do that!
turn your backyard into a resort oasis
When we moved into our home 10 years ago, I told my husband that I feel like I’m waking up every morning on vacation. I still feel that way, 10 years later. My backyard and patio are one of my favorite places to be. We have a beautiful view on a couple of acres, nice furniture and a fire pit. It’s a great place to sit outside and have a cup of coffee in the morning or a glass of wine in the evening.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to enjoy a nice backyard retreat. If you’re needing patio furniture, the large home improvement stores have end of the season sales, usually in the Fall. Also, check out Facebook Market place, thrift stores & garage sales for dirt cheap prices on patio furniture, decor and much more.
Add Outdoor Solar String Lights around the patio, some pretty potted plants and maybe a rug, and VIOLA!! You have a cozy, backyard retreat that’s not only extra living space, but a great place to relax and unwind.
have a getaway close to home
If your budget has a little wiggle room, book a hotel or an Airbnb for a night or two that’s close to home. A change in scenery can do wonders for you mentally & spiritually.
When you pick a destination close to home, you save a bundle on gas and/or airfare allowing you to put a little more into your lodging & food.
If you want to save some money and can take a day or two through the week, the rates are often cheaper than on a Friday & Saturday night at hotels, B&B’s and RV parks.
plan your next vacation!
You may not be able to go on vacation right now, but that doesn’t keep you from dreaming about and planning your next one!
Think about where you’d like to go, when you would be able to go and start getting prices, whether it be airline tickets or hotels. Yes…these prices fluctuate, but at least you would have a ball park idea of the cost so you could begin saving & budgeting for it.
Be sure to involve the whole family because this can be fun and exciting for everyone involved.
You shouldn’t let a tight budget keep you from enjoying some time off to unplug from day to day life. I hope you can try out some of the ideas above or come up with a few ideas, yourself, to take some time off, relax and enjoy your loved ones.
Have you ever planned a staycation when a regular vacation wasn’t in the budget? What are some ideas that you have done for a fun filled staycation? Let me know in the comments!