More than half of Americans plan on taking a summer vacation, but a good number of us have no summer break plans at all.
According to a 2017 poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, 43 percent of American have no plans for a big vacation, mostly because they simply can’t afford it. Of those who plan to travel, about half expect their trip will cost less than $1,000. The rest say it will cost more.
And that’s why many of us plan so-called budget friendly staycations instead. The term, coined in 2005, grew in popularity during the Great Recession as unemployment skyrocketed and fewer people had the means to travel.
And now they’re still popular with families, who maybe haven’t celebrated a raise at work in years, or Millennials who are struggling to get their financial bearings.
What’s a staycation? It’s a mix between being at home and being on vacation. It’s an opportunity to take a break from your regular work responsibilities and daily life, relax and take in what your community has to offer.
But, if you’re not careful, those staycations can still add up to a lot of money. Here are five tips for a fantastic and budget friendly staycation.
Know your budget
When you’re staying in town instead of traveling, it might seem easier to open up your wallet. After all, you’re not spending money on transportation to get somewhere and lodging in some far-flung destination. But dinners out and tickets still add up -- even when you’re at home. Decide how much you have available to spend before your time off begins to create a budget friendly staycation
Make plans ahead of time
You probably already know a lot about your community and what it has to offer staycationers. You know where the museums are, where the water park is and which trails you might want to hike.
But planning ahead of time can save you some hassle (you wouldn’t want to show up at the museum on a day when it’s closed) and some money too.
When you plan ahead, you can search on Groupon and other deal sites for cheaper tickets to that water park. You might be able to take advantage of weekly reduced admission offers at the museum or movie theater. And you likely will discover that you’ll save big bucks if you eat lunch at the restaurant you’ve been dying to go to instead of dinner.
Make it a family affair
If you have kids, include them in the planning. Use these discussions as an opportunity to talk with them about spending money wisely. Have them make a list of things they’d like to do and help them prioritize them based on your budget. Psychology Today has some great tips for talking about money with kids.
Don’t forget all of the free stuff in your community
Libraries offer regular programs for kids. Movie theaters line up free and cheap summer movie series for families. Parks provide news places to explore. Local towns and cities often have free outdoor concert series. Find out what’s free in your community and take advantage of those events and activities to boost the fun quotient on your budget friendly staycation.
Spend time in your actual home
Do you have projects you want to catch up on? Does binge watching the entire Star Wars series sound heavenly? Is your teenage daughter a budding chef who would love to try a new recipe? Do you have board games that are gathering dust? A staycation is a great time to stick at home, and these activities will cost you very little.
A successful budget friendly staycation nets you the same benefits as a traditional vacation -- a chance to unwind, time spent with loved ones and plenty of memories. If you do it right, all that’s missing is the big bill at the end.
If you are experiencing financial difficulty and are looking for a solution, non-profit credit counseling can help you make sense of all your options. Contact us today for a free financial assessment with one of our certified credit counselors.
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