Enjoy the sites of your hometown in a new way. / Brooke Slezak/Getty Images
Flipping through friends’ summer travel photos on Facebook can be downright depressing if you can’t afford to take a vacation this year. But don’t despair: We’ve called in three travel experts to help you plan a “staycation” to remember.
Get in the spirit. “It’s all about your attitude,” says Teresa Mears, editor in chief of LivingontheCheap.com. “If you treat a staycation as a true vacation, then it will feel like one.” No chores, errands or work. Let the office know you’re off; turn off electronics, take photos and treasure the time together, adds blogger Karen Dawkins (FamilyTravelsonaBudget.com).
Plan ahead. Just like a regular vacation, researching and planning activities is paramount. “Make a list of attractions, events and festivals and build an itinerary, giving (the whole family) a chance to select something,” Dawkins suggests. Go with a theme, adds Deborah Park, Associate Director of Communications at Visit Denver. You could start the morning at the zoo, spend the afternoon at a wild-animal sanctuary and hit an aquarium at night.
Act like a tourist. Explore parts of your hometown that you’ve never seen. “Everybody’s got something they’ve always wanted to see in their hometown and never seen; take your staycation as a chance to do something you’ve never done before,” Mears recommends. Or, Dawkins says, use the money saved by not traveling to do something special, like a carriage ride through the city or dinner at a top restaurant.
Snag hotel deals. Many hotels now offer staycation packages for locals. Simply call the hotel on the day you want to go and ask for a manager’s discount or other offers (try AAA or AARP).