5 ways to have a fun staycation on a budget

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The summer season is upon us. For many families that means one thing – the summer vacation. We love our getaways, but they can be expensive. According to American Express, the average cost of a summer vacation is over $1,100 per person. Regardless of the number of people traveling in your family, the costs can add up quickly, making it harder to enjoy time away.

If your budget doesn't allow for a pricey summer vacation, you can still enjoy some time off to rest, relax and have fun through a staycation. A staycation might sound boring but it doesn't have to be. With a little planning, you can have a fun staycation that won't bust your budget. Here are some strategies to do just that:

1. Do something out of your ordinary routine.

The key to having a fun summer staycation is doing something you might not normally do. This requires unplugging, not doing any work and finding ways to spice up your time off. Much of the fun in a summer vacation is trying something new or going somewhere new.

By adding something different to your time off, it will help you get the vacation feel without the added cost. If you don't know what new things there are to do in your area, do a simple Internet search using the phrase "free things to do" along with the name of your town and you should be able to find a number of different, fun things to try out.

2. Take a day trip.

Part of the fun of a summer vacation is traveling. Just because you're taking a staycation doesn't mean you can't travel. Consider a day trip or two during your staycation to give you that travel feel.

Depending on where you live, there are likely going to be a large number of different sites and attractions you can take in all within a day's drive. Possibilities include visiting your state capital, going to a nearby vineyard, picking fruit at a local orchard and visiting a national park.

The possibilities are endless and might cost no more than the price of a tank of gas and money for admission to the given location. Don't forget to add in a picnic lunch to make a full day of it.

3. Take in a movie or concert.

According to the National Association of Theatre Owners, the average cost of a movie ticket was $8.17 as of 2014. When you add in the cost of concessions, you could easily be looking at an outing of at least $50 for a family. Concert attendance is only going to be more expensive. But there are ways to get either experience without shelling out a considerable amount of money.

Many cities and communities offer free family-friendly movies or concerts throughout the summer. In many instances, these might be second-run movies or older musical acts, but they can be a great way to get the experience without spending too much money. Depending on where you live, the events might be planned for the entire summer, which can help you plan which you'd like to attend most.

4. Try out a new restaurant.

Going on summer vacation will almost always involve eating out for most meals. Depending on the budget of your staycation, you may not be able to do this for each meal. Instead, look at exploring one or two new local restaurants you've wanted to try for some time. This technique allows you to take a break from having to cook, while also trying something new. If dinner prices are too high, then look at going for lunch, since many restaurants will charge quite a bit less to dine during the day.

5. Dine outside.

Going on summer vacation usually involves one thing – outdoor activities. Just because you are taking a staycation doesn't mean you can't do the same thing, and in many cases you can do more because you're operating from your home base. There are many things you can do outside during your staycation, which can cost next to nothing, such as going on a hike, taking a family bike ride or flying a kite at a local park.

Whatever it is you choose, don't forget to take a picnic lunch or dinner with you to make it more of a day. Having a staycation can be a great way to unwind and have fun as a family. With a little work, you can have a great time at a fraction of the cost of a standard vacation.

Copyright 2015 U.S. News & World Report

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