I don’t know about you but I am a bit of an enigma. On the one hand I love to travel. I like getting in a car, setting out on an adventure, and exploring my surroundings along the way. On the other hand, I’m a bit of a homebody. I like to stick close to home and spend time with my family and enjoy the surroundings I live in on a regular basis. We don’t have opportunity to travel that often, so when we do we usually like to focus on staycation trips.
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But more often than not, we find ourselves making mini trips, or what has been coined a staycation. In the last few years with the economy so low, a lot of people are adopting a staycation mentality. That means exploring the areas that you can drive to and back home within a day.
Doing this affords the opportunity for a bit of adventure without the overwhelming cost of hotels, exorbitant gas prices and too many meals out at restaurants. Yet, travel of any kind, even to a not so distant attraction comes with costs. After all, even the local zoo charges a fee to get in. A staycation can offer your family a fun-filled, no pressure day to build memories.A staycation can offer your family a fun-filled, no pressure day to build memories. Click To Tweet
So how can you utilize the staycation mentality and still keep your costs at the lowest possible prices?
10 TIPS FOR FRUGAL STAYCATION FUN
▬ Pack your meals. I am a small family of 3, yet a meal at a local fast food restaurant can easily cost us $35 or $40. But, if I pack a few ham and cheese sandwiches, split a large bag of chips into 3 baggies, add some grapes and juice boxes I can manage to make a lunch meal for about $3 a person. That is a huge savings. Throw in a few extra bottles of water into that cooler, and you won’t be buying the over priced bottles from the tourist vendors.
▬ Buy gift cards from your local grocery. Most grocery stores now have gas stations as well and if you purchase your groceries from them, they offer you discounts on gas prices. But they also allow that gas discount with gift card purchases. If you know you have to eat out while traveling, plan ahead, purchase a gift card for the restaurant that you plan to eat at in the location you are going to, then use the gas perks to buy your gas for the trip.
▬ Look for ticket discounts. Often tourist attractions offer discounts to local residents. They do this by partnering with a local grocery chain. Go online and search for discount tickets to the attraction that you are planning to go to. Check with supermarket chains in the local area that you will be going to and see if they offer discounts or coupons for that attraction.
▬ Check your family memberships. Many zoos, museums, and science centers offer reciprocal programs across the nation. That means if you have a family membership to your local zoo, chances are you can get in free or at a reduced rate to a zoo in another city. The same is true for science centers and museums. For example, I used to live in Central Ohio, a membership to the local COSI (science center) meant I could get free entrance into the science center in Newark, Cleveland and Toledo too, all within driving distance of home.
▬ Visit the National Parks and Museums. National parks offer a wide variety of hiking, camping, and often are found in historical locations, visits to such parks offer a wealth of homeschooling/field trip studies as well as family fun staycation time. National museums are funded by American tax dollars. That means you get free admission. So look for national museums that are within driving distance of your home.
▬ Ask for a Discount. Tourist attractions, especially those that have are educational in nature, often offer discounts to educators. As a homeschooling family, you are an educator. They can’t know this if you don’t ask. So ask. Be prepared though to present some type of identification of your standing as an educator. This can be a membership car to HSLDA, or another membership to a homeschool organization. I show my letter of excused absence that I receive from my local school district and that has always sufficed.
▬ Visit Factories. Sometimes a factory offers tours to the public. These factory tours are an awesome way to introduce your children to the world of industry, business, commerce, engineering, manufacturing and so much more. Some factories offer these tours for free because they know that many who take the tour will end up making a purchase in their visitor centers and gift shops.
▬ Visit your local farmer. Call ahead, and ask if the farm offers tours for educational purposes. If they have a minimum number of participants, work with your homeschool group or co-op and make a day out of it with friends.
▬ Spend a day at your State, metro or local park. Most park systems offer a wide variety of fun and learning opportunities. Do a bit of research online, you might just discover that the park you’ve visited for years has an entire program you aren’t aware of.
▬ Rent a Canoe. Often times you can find a company in your area that rents canoes to tourists. You get to spend a day on the water with your family for a nominal fee and explore your local area from a different perspective at the same time. It’s sure to be a fun and frugal day! (Don’t forget to pack a lunch.)
Whatever activity you choose to do close to home, remember that the purpose of a vacation, er um I mean staycation, is to have some time of fun and relaxation. Let go a bit and just let your family be happy together. It might just be the best memory you ever make.
What are your best frugal staycation tips? Share in comments.
Make your Staycation Fun
- Grab these Staycation T-Shirts for the family.
- These Staycation Papers make for a fun scrapbook background to document your fun.
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