I’ve vacationed on just my grocery budget. We were able to do this because we own a timeshare. Did we eat out? No, cooked all the means in the condo. Did we do things that cost money? No, we picnicked on the beach; we swam in the pool; we used the facilities at the resort; we hiked; we watched a movie together. Could we have done this at home? Absolutely! The staycation is NOT my favorite, but still workable in a pinch. Just like with any vacation, you’ll need to do some travel preparations for staying at home. This will work for any length of time; it might even become a weekend ritual! The staycation is a way to spend very little money, but still reap the rewards of vacationing.
1) Clean house. Now I know, it’s only going to get messy, there is no housekeeper to come in and clean before and after your time. The cleaning falls to you. (If you have a little bit of money, you can always hire the house cleaning out at the end of your vacation.)
2) Grocery shop. Plan your meals and shop for what you don’t have on hand. For me, I’m in vacation mode here and I’ll spend a bit more for something like steaks rather than chicken. I’m not eating out. Steaks (for the hubby to grill OUTSIDE), premade cinnamon rolls or a coffee cake for breakfast, I try to make it fun and have something special for everyone and I don’t want a lot of clean up.
I buy things that I normally wouldn’t have around the house. I also keep in mind that I don’t want to do all the cooking. This is a shared proposition.
I find that I don’t always know what my family really wants, so I ask. Most of the time I’m right on the money, but other times my jaw is on the floor. Someone, every now and again surprises me. Ask, it’s easy enough to do. If you have to preface your question about what they might like to eat with, IF, do it. “If I can do what you ask, I will.” My kids know when things are a done deal and when they’re not. And sometimes I apologize because things just didn’t work out the way I thought they would.
3) Plan activities. Talk to your travel mates to find out what they might like. You don’t have to do and make all the decisions yourself. Depending on the time of year, for most, this might be in the summer when the kids are out of school, you can set up some sort of water activity in the backyard. (If you live in an apartment, you already have a pool.) Plan ahead. What will you need outside to keep everyone entertained? Music? A cooler (you don’t want everyone running in and out of the house wet)? What snacks does your family like that you can prepare ahead of time? One of my favorite cookbooks is by the Diva of Do Ahead. She knows what freezes and what you can keep in the refrigerator for a week or just a day or two.
If you have a sunny back year you might want to think about creating a shady place. As strange as it is, not every likes to sit in the sun.
And although it may sound strange, put the sunscreen in the backyard and don’t put it on the minute everyone walks outside. Give everyone just a few minutes in the sun without sunscreen on. Crazy? Not really, sunscreen, blocks the harmful rays of the sun, yes, but it also blocks the vitamin D that we get from the sun.
Now, if you just know you’ll forget to put the sunscreen on once you’re outside, put it on right away. Better to miss out on the vitamin D one morning than to have everyone sunburned. Sunburns are no fun. (You might want to pick up some aloe-vera while you’re out, just in case.)
4) Pack. Pack the clothes you’ll wear for your vacation hanging them in your closet. One of the greatest advantages of staying at home to vacation is you have your whole wardrobe! I still recommend selecting what you want to wear before hand and (try to) stick to it. The thing about vacations is spending time together and thinking about what to wear in advance will translate into more time with your travel mates.
If anyone has other helpful ideas for staycations post them here!