Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thrifty Living Series - Staycations

Some ideas for saving money with staycations. Staying home to save money but still having some fun.

I think this weeks topic is perfect timing given the rapid rise in gas prices in the last month. I know it affects us. We are planning a vacation this summer that is 12 hours away and with the price of gas rising so I high, hubby and I have a point at which we may not make the trip. I will be so sad and the kids even more disappointed but this is the reality many of us face.

If you have to stay home for vacation you want to make it fun. I could just hang out at the nursery and in the garden and throw in a BBQ and I would be set but the kids would be a bit bored. Here are some of the things we have done when staying home for a family vacation:

Stay At Home Vacation Ideas Around Town

1. Hit the beach. If you live near one like we do then a day at the water is a very economical way to spend an entire day. Of course you will be bringing a picnic and that will save money for food. 

2. See an early movie. Our local theater has discounted movies before noon. We take a few snacks in my purse to avoid the high prices inside the theater.

3. Check for free days at local museums and gardens. Once a month many of our local museums and gardens have a free day. If it coincides with your stay cation then this would be perfect.

4. Take a hike. We live just minutes from lots of local trails in our foothills. A picnic lunch afterward would complete the trip.

Now if you really want to just stay home here are some fun things we do that would make for some good times.

Free (Or Almost) Stay At Home Ideas

1. Have a BBQ. Every Memorial Day just hubby, kids and I have our annual "Ribs Fest." We start the day with filling up loads of water balloons and the kiddie pool. We put on our suits and get some sun and have a massive water balloon fight. I am sure our neighbors think we are crazy. We are. We then relax and BBQ ribs for dinner. We eat on the patio which I decorate and then at night we have a bonfire in our pit and make smores. The kids love this, even the big ones, and I make a poster a few days ahead to announce it. They talk about it all year so it must be a good time for them.

2. Camp in your yard. Throw up a tent or in our case we hang out in our trailer in the driveway. The kids have sleepovers out there and I stock the fridge. They watch movies and have a blast right in the old

3. Have a pizza night. We make loads of dough and invite friends. I supply the sauce and cheese and everyone brings favorite toppings. The fun is in the making for sure. Here is my recipe for pizza dough.

4. Plan a movie night. Instead of dinner at the table which I am stickler for, you pick some movies and have dinner in front of the T.V. Nachos, pizza, dips and snacks for dinner are a big hit with the kids who enjoy a break from the broccoli.

5. In our house, video games are popular. We have hosted tournaments with home made trophies before. You can do it with the new dance video games. Fun for everyone not just kids and you get some exercise.

6. Just get outside and play. Ride bikes, fly a kite, play croquet, frisbee, take walks. Shake it up. Don't just sit on the couch as that is not memorable.

I guess really just time together. As a couple, a family or single, maybe see some friends or family and do what you love and enjoy. That is what vacations are for.


  1. Great tips Elaine! I have enjoyed your thrifty living series very much.

  2. Some wonderful ideas...thanks for sharing...blessings

  3. My husband lost a really good paying job approx. 2 years ago, and prior to that we were BIG into vacations! We have basically been so financially strapped that even staycations would have stretched things too far. BUT, I think that it is time to do some planning for this summer- thanks to your inspiration! You've really got me thinkin' on how to have fun in a most frugal way....THANK YOU!

  4. This is a helpful post because our girls' spring breaks are not the same week this year! *sadface* So we do not have any plans. Great ideas, Elaine! It is hard to entertain teenagers, and they get bored so easily!

    Ricki Jill

  5. I think I want to move into your house. It sounds like fun!

  6. Great ideas, Elaine! Your family sounds like they have a lot of fun together and that's wonderful.


  7. Wonderful ideas! We are lucky to live near a couple of previous state parks that are still operating thanks to the county. Camping and fishing are very inexpensive with the drive less than 30 miles.
    Another thing we enjoy are community activities downtown that are mostly free or small fee - concerts, movie nights, arts/craft shows.

  8. We have a lot of great things to do here in St Louis also.
    Hey, I checked for your pizza dough recipe and for the life of me I can't find it on that post.
    It could be old age. :)

  9. A really great post! I remember how much fun it was to spend the day with the kids doing something out of the ordinary! Spending time together made it special! ♥

  10. I think spending time at home together with friends and family are the BEST! I am planning to travel to Tennessee in June for my Class Reunion, but will have to play it by ear to see how gas prices and what unexpected expenses come up between now and then. May have to cancel. :(, but I'll live.

  11. That's weird, I was writing this comment when your comment popped up in my blog. I go for pizza night! No kids here so we are easily entertained. We haven't taken a vacation in a long time, but we do small day trips and we enjoy those. I love your thrifty ways!

  12. Great ideas, Elaine!! Growing up, I remember doing a lot of those things like movie night, camping in back yards and bbqs. My husband and I still enjoy those now-- just the two of us! There's nothing like having family or friends over with a cozy bonfire, good food, a guitar and lots of stories to make for a great night! (Sorry, I'm always so long-winded!)
    Leslie :)

  13. What a great collection of ideas, there is something for all of us in there.

    I love the idea of Pizza night, hmmmmm. Maybe going to have to plan one soon.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

  14. great ideas!!!! we LOVE going to the beach for the day.....movies (hubby donates blood a LOT and they always give him free movie tickets) and I always take snacks in my ourse:)
    I hike all the time, I have a nature preserve in my backyard!!!!
    thanks for this series!!!

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  16. The vibe in your home is so much like mine!!!

  17. I think you are right. With the gas prices expected to be really high this summer, it is definitely going to be a great year for staycations. I think your ideas are all wonderful. Every town has free activites and places to walk.

  18. Girl... These are all great tips. There may just be a lot of these kind of things going on this year.
    Have a good one.

  19. I so agree...and they are less stressful too. Lots of good ideas here, thanks. (Cougar is a great watch dog too!) ;D

  20. Great tips Elaine. Since my kids are teens and do things with their friends, we usually will have couples over for drinks and appetizers. We supply drinks and food, but typically everyone brings something and usually a bottle of wine too- there's always plenty!
    I was also commenting to Claudia about living here on the east coast and how easy it is to take a variety of day trips. Claudia & I actually live pretty close-just a few towns away!
    California is great too-except like you said, now the gas prices are ruining things!

  21. Hi Elaine! I agree with your point. Though I am not a mother, I always believe that quality time with the family need not to be spent away from home or in an expensive vacation spot. We make the memories and not the places. :) it's up to us whether we create pleasant and fulfilling experiences.

    You are indeed a great blogger and mother. :)

  22. Great ideas! Most of our vacations when the kids were young were close ones...we are big into camping and since the local mountains are so close here...we camped ALOT! Libraries always offer reading programs for the little ones with free meals too...that was always fun for the boys...and there are so many museums and cool areas in our own back yards that many of us have not even been to...we need to visit all of those too!

  23. Because I live on a river, family and friends like to come here to boat and swim throughout the summer for their staycations. I used to supply all the food and drinks but now they have to contribute. No one seems to mind and the kids get to build friendships and memories. You are so great a putting in the extra effort to make a day special for your family! ~ Maureen

  24. Great ideas! When my kids were little we mostly visited family on vacation. Lucky for us all we paid for was gas! We didn't have much money then but the memories were priceless! hugs, Linda

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  26. For years my hubby wanted a pool in the back yard. I fought it off until I couldn't any longer. In '98 we had an inground pool installed and from that moment on, I told him that the pool would be our "vacation" for the next 10 years, until we got it paid off. I thoroughly enjoy laying out by the pool, cooling off after working in the garden. It's been worth it and although we don't take as many vacations like we used too, we take a mini-vacation here and there but still enjoy the pool. Having friends and family over is fun too. It's February and this weather in central VA is feeling like it's May! What a tease!! Thanks for all the other ideas I can do with my grandson now that he's getting a little older :)

  27. Those are some wonderful ideas, sounds like you are a very creative thinker.
    Have a great day.
    Hugs, Cindy

  28. Great ideas. We just decided that we are not going to take our Florida vacation this year. Sad... but we will have plenty of fun anyway.

  29. We burn our tree limb pile two times a year and have a huge fire with marshmallows and hot chocolate and sit around the fire and make sure we do not burn down the neighbor hood.

  30. Hi Elaine, good things you shared. I think we all are changing how we travel, go shopping, do routine things...planning them all together just to save on gas. Enjoy your blog.

  31. Sometimes the best fun is the home made fun. Even as adults my family still does simple things that don't break the bank. You mentioned pizza making. We have stock piled all sorts of pizza toppings and then laid out individual crusts, everyone making their own pizzas and then since the guys can always eat a bit more, we took all the left over toppings and made one with everything. I canned my own spaghetti sauce and it is great as a pizza topping as well as used for spaghetti dinners, lasagna and anything else that uses a tomato sauce. We bring out the board games, the playing cards and yes, movies. Occasionally we also do the fire pit and smores or marshmallows. It is interesting to compare notes with others and often we find that their ideas for family fun are similar.

  32. I think the key to this Staycation is PLANNING it, looking forward to it, and making it a really separate thing from the usual - even if it is within your own hometown.

  33. Oh a staycation could be so much fun. You could also use that time to explore some of the shops in your area, that you've never visited. My father and I haven't been able to afford a vacation in years. That's okay though. We always find ways to do small things during the day that are fun. Plus the area we live in is really beautiful. We're very blessed, and there's lots to see and do here, that's FREE :) Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather :)

  34. I LOVE this series and can't thank you guys enough for doing it!

    Many Blessings,

  35. Lots of great ideas. Beautiful flower displays. Blessings!

  36. Great suggestions Elaine! This may be our summer plans too. Thank you for joining me at Home Sweet Home!

  37. Thank you for sharing all of your creative staycation ideas at Potpourri Friday!