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Summer Staycation Ideas That Won’t Bust Your Budget

The best of all seasons is upon us. We’re talking about summer: long days, swimming pools and every excuse under the extra-sunny sun to get out of town for vacation.
But what if you decide to save some money and stay home this year? Don’t worry, friends. It’s time to get pumped for your summer staycation!

Outdoor Summer Staycation Ideas:

1. Conduct a tasting tour of your city. Do a little research leading up to the week of your staycation to scout out the best restaurants around town. Consider online reviews or Groupon deals, look for newly opened restaurants, and ask friends for their favorite hole-in-the-wall eateries, breakfast places, or lunch spots.
2. Get outdoors every day. Fresh air does the body good, so get some! Head to a park, go for a hike, visit your local farmers market, and take a walk around your neighborhood. Let your kids run wild—and hey, run wild yourself! Missouri’s State Park system is elaborate and full of activities to optimize your experience.
3. Splash around for free. You don’t need a pool membership to cool off this summer. Set up a sprinkler, try a nearby creek, or visit your local “sprayground.” Spraygrounds offer shallow water for wading and lots of other fun surprises perfect for babies, toddlers and elementary-aged kids.
4. Visit the top tourist spot in your town. Do a quick google search of your city. For example, we might google: what to do in St.Louis. See what activities are repeated on every list and cross out anywhere you’ve already been. Now act like a tourist and try something new. Look up local festivals, free concerts or try a restaurant or museum you’ve never visited (or it’s just been a long time)!
5. Spend an entire day outside. Pack the car like you’ll be gone for hours and then hit the road. Bring a blanket, book, ball, frisbee, picnic lunch, and more snacks than you imagine you’ll need. Pick a park and settle in for a day full of sunshine and relaxation. Look up places that are close enough for a fun day/weekend trip!

Indoor Staycation Ideas:

1. Tackle a big project. A week at the beach isn’t often spent working, but that’s what makes a staycation so special. Dedicate your time to one of the lingering items on your to-do list. Choose something that’s challenging but fun like refinishing that old bookcase or redecorating the playroom. Brainstorm ideas and get the family involved! The end result should boost the happiness of your household. Consult your Pinterest board and complete a project you’ve pinned and never had the opportunity to try!
2. Get your jump on. Visit your local bounce house or trampoline park. Kids ages two and under are often free, and if you’re lucky, you’ll find a spot where adults can join in on the fun for free too! Of course, there’s always the old standby of a McDonald’s or Chick-fil-A play place.
3. Be your best vacation self at home. Ask yourself, What feels like vacation to me? Maybe you like to stay up late or wake up late. You might prefer taking your time making breakfast and approaching the day with ease. Or perhaps you like getting out the door right away in order to get the fun started early. Whatever you like to do, do that.
4. Eat dessert every night. We recommend ice cream. Any brand or flavor will do. The main appeal is that ice cream takes basically zero effort, especially if you let the container sit on the counter for 10 minutes before scooping.
5. Escape the heat. Want to get out of the house without breaking a sweat? Walk the mall as you window shop or visit the local library for an easy summer read. Instead of working toward the usual goal of leaving, take your time, relax and have a little fun without spending much money.

Entertainment Staycation Ideas:

1. See a movie in the morning. You’re on staycation with the mission to escape from the pressures of everyday life, so see a movie in the morning! You’ll also enjoy the savings and lighter crowds of a matinee show.
2. Start (and finish!) some form of entertainment. You might cozy up with a good book, pop earbuds in to listen to the latest season of your favorite podcast, or binge-watch an entire series on Netflix or Amazon Prime.
3. Enjoy a flick the old-school way. Grab a bunch of snacks and blankets, borrow a projector from a friend, hang up a white sheet in the backyard, and throw the ultimate movie night under the stars!
4. Put on a movie marathon. Pile up the DVDs or pick your favorites on Netflix. Now all you have to do is put on your pajamas and get snuggled up on the couch for a staycation day to end all others. Have popcorn and candy on hand and let everyone participate in selecting the movies.

Family-Friendly Staycation Ideas:

1. Let each family member choose an activity for the week. I’m sure every family member has an opinion as to the most entertaining way to hang out together. Have each person share their ideas, write them on slips of paper, and draw from a jar each morning.
2. Schedule a board game tournament. Gather your friends and family for a board game tournament to end all tournaments. Work with what you have in your closet and the age levels of all participants. Yes, this means you might be battling it out for champion of Chutes and Ladders or Uno.
3. Leave out kid-friendly activities. Cover your dining room table with butcher paper and a box of crayons and let the kids go nuts all week. Spend a little time on a big puzzle every afternoon, bring out blocks for daily building sessions, or set up the easel and paints for creating works of art.
4. Plan a day for making zero plans. The whole point of getting away even when you don’t actually go anywhere is feeling free. Force yourself to leave one day untouched by schedules or lists. Just do whatever you please, as you please.

How to Make Your Staycation a Priority in Your Budget

Prioritize your needs over your wants. Take care of your food, transportation, housing, and clothing necessities first. Make sure to stay on track with your financial goals to pay off debt or save up for an emergency fund.
Make a few selections from the list above and add some of your own. Decide what you’ll do on your summer staycation so you can budget accordingly. Talk with everyone you plan to spend time with—your friends, your spouse, your kids—and get their input on fun things to do.
Estimate overall spending to set a staycation budget. Look online, make a few phone calls, and ask around to determine what your selected activities might cost. If the total seems too high, play around with your plans until you find a total that works.
Start saving for your next big break. Maybe you didn’t save enough to plan that big trip this time, but if you open a Vacation Savings Account and direct deposit a set amount from each pay check, you’ll be ready for that next bout of fun, whether it’s big or small!

Have you ever planned a super fun staycation? Share your tips in the comments!