Sometimes the best summer vacation is actually a staycation. Yes, staycations don’t involve a complete change of scenery, discovering exotic locales and new cultures, but they also don’t involve weeks of planning and a huge price tag. Too many of us don’t allow ourselves time to just relax and enjoy the comforts of home and—as fun as it is—travel can be as exhausting as a work week. Speaking of work weeks, most involve paid time off that we Americans aren’t using! According to the U.S. Travel Association: “U.S. employees carried over $65.6 billion worth of paid vacation from 2014 into 2015—an average of 3.3 days and $748 per employee.”
Don’t let a tight budget or other responsibilities prevent you from getting some quality Me time and a good dose of family bonding this summer. Here are 10 fantastic staycation ideas to get you amped for chillin’ at home!
1. Backyard Water Park Beat the heat and enjoy all the fun of a water park, without the lines and expensive tickets! And we don’t mean pulling out the Slip ‘n’ Slide and turning on a few sprinklers. Bob Vila has some amazingly fun and simple ways to DIY an awesome backyard adventure. Think water piñatas, a giant water blob, water balloon dodge ball and a bucket dump.
2. Treat Yourself With all of the money you’re saving by vacationing at home, you can afford to indulge a little. Treat yourself to a really decadent meal at the new restaurant you’ve been wanting to try out, get a luxurious massage or spa treatment, make an appointment for professional highlights to celebrate summer or just buy yourself that pair of strappy heels you’ve been drooling over.
3. Geocaching Geocaching is an awesome family activity that you can do anytime and anywhere. All you need is a phone with GPS to participate in this global scavenger hunt. It’s not only fun, it’s a following the treasure maps is a great way to explore your town from a new perspective.
4. Lounge by the Pool Staycations are all about relaxation and nothing beats daydreaming by the pool on a lazy summer afternoon. If you don’t have a good neighborhood pool to spend your days, you can get a surprisingly large above ground backyard pool for as little as $165.
5. Get to Know Your Town Have you ever thought about all of the great museums, attractions and neighborhoods in your own hometown that you have always meant to visit but never found the time? Now you have it! Odds are there are some hidden gems out there too.
6. Backyard Dining Experience Transform your backyard into a fine dining oasis. Of course the dining only needs to be as fine as you like—if burgers are your idea of culinary heaven, go for it! Clean the grill, dust off the smoker, hang a hammock or two, invest in a few lounge chairs, hang some decorative string lights and invite your friends for an impromptu cookout.
7. Plant a Garden A staycation is the perfect opportunity to do a little landscaping and plant a garden. Get the kids involved and get in touch with the earth while growing healthy fruits and vegetables.
8. Day Trips Almost everyone lives within an hour or two of something worth visiting for the day so plan a few exciting family day trips. Look for interesting activities like berry picking, a day at the lake, a natural wonder or a quaint, historic town.
9. Festivals Summer is festival season and there are probably more going on in your town than you realize. Find out what’s happening near you (festivals.com is a great resource) and schedule your staycation accordingly.
10. Virtual Museum Tour There’s no reason staycations can’t be cultural experiences too. When it’s hot outside, enjoy the AC and take some virtual museum tours. The Google Art Project lets you view collections from tons of art museums around the world and learn about each piece. Visit the Sistine Chapel in Rome or the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. You can even tune into the live webcams at the Washington Zoo to see what the animals are up to. For space enthusiasts can NASA TV shows you what’s happening on the Space Station and they’ve got plenty of videos from their other missions.