A lavish vacation may be out of the question this year, but what about a staycation?
According to an infographic from BedandBreakfast.com, 24% of Americans are likely to take a staycation in the coming year. Wikipedia defines the staycation as “a period in which an individual or family stays home and participates in leisure activities within driving distance, sleeping in their own beds.” It’s an affordable alternative to the traditional out of town vacation, and can be equally rewarding and relaxing.
The fear of boredom is a common point of resistance for staycations, especially among parents of kids and teenagers. Since your surroundings are the same, there’s a real risk that you’ll revert to your everyday, non-staycation lifestyle; that’s why it’s important to take time beforehand to plan activities that will keep you and your family both busy and relaxed.
Here are a few pointers for adding a bit of structured fun to your next staycation.
1. Grab your phone to find local resources
Google Plus Local and help Yelp are great places to find local gems that you might not know about. Type in your zip code and scan through various categories: restaurants, active life, arts, entertainment and more for activity ideas.
2. Turn off your screens
Now that you’ve checked your smartphone for resources, make an effort to put the screens away for the remainder of your staycation. It’s a great opportunity to turn off the constant email, texting and social media noise that keep us from truly stepping away. You’ll also be reminded of the value of real, in-person interaction.
3. Grab a travel book
Now that you’ve turned off the screens, consider an old school resource for filling your staycation agenda: travel books. Head to your local library or bookstore and browse the local travel section. You’re probably familiar with the majority of your city’s mainstream tourist attractions, but you’re bound to find a few that are off the beaten path.
4. See what the local experts have to say
Finding interesting places to go is what food bloggers and travel writers get paid to do, so you might as well take advantage of their work. Flip to the arts and leisure section of your local newspaper or find the best food blogs your city has to offer and check out some of the spots they recommend.
5. Don’t be afraid to be a tourist in your own city
Chances are you haven’t been on any of those kitschy walking or bus tours in your own city. Why not see what all the fuss is about? To keep things interesting, be sure to go for the niche tours. Here in Chicago, crime and gangster bus tours, ghost kayak tours and architecture boat tours are favorites, even among the locals.
6. Take a class
Why not take your day off as an opportunity to learn something new? You may not have time to pack in a college-level course, but there are plenty of affordable and fun one-day classes out there. For example, Dabble offers a variety of cooking, craft, music and other creative classes for well under $100 per seat.
7. See how far local transit can take you
If you live in a metropolitan area, chances are there is affordable transit nearby. Even if you don’t rely on public transit every day, this can be a great opportunity to explore. Where does the train or bus go that you’ve never been before? Get off at a new stop and make a day of getting to know that area.
8. Use daily deals as a starting point
Groupon, Living Social and competing sites have entire sections dedicated to events and activities. See where these deals can get you and your family – from go-carting discounts to a bargain trip to the ballpark.
9. Free museum days
Many museums and cultural institutions have specified free days. You might have to do a bit of digging to find out which days these are, but it can be a great way to spend the day without spending a dime.
10. Build your own theme days
Filling a full day’s agenda can be tough, so why not give yourself a theme to work with? For example, a baseball-themed day could be spent at the local baseball hall of fame, followed by a trip to the local batting cages and capped off with a baseball movie marathon and a hot dog dinner. Theme days are fun for younger kids, so be sure to get them involved in the planning process.