10 tips for planning the perfect staycation

Natalia LusinskiThe author in Quinta da Regaleira, Sintra, Portugal.
  • A staycation is a perfect getaway from your daily life – and it costs much less money and time than a regular vacation.
  • Whether you decide to stay local or explore a nearby area you’ve never visited, you’ll get to see your home in a different light.
  • Here are 10 easy ways to plan the perfect staycation this summer.

For many people, summertime is vacation time. However, limited time off or cash in the vacation fund can make taking a dream trip difficult.

A great alternative is a staycation, where you have a vacation-like experience without venturing too far from home. Whether you stay in your own city or visit a nearby one, the goal of a staycation is the same as a vacation: To take a break from your day-to-day life.

I’m a digital nomad currently living in Lisbon, Portugal. However, I recently needed to get away for a few days – and on a budget. For about $US2, I took a train 45 minutes to the fairy-tale city of Sintra, home to several castles and breathtaking views. I found a guest house on Booking.com for about $US30 a night, and my staycation began.

If you’re looking for ideas on how to plan the perfect staycation of your own, here are 10 ways to do it:

1. Figure out what you want to do

Nomad_Soul/ShutterstockFigure out what you want to do, then choose a place.

Dannie Fountain, a marketing strategist and digital nomad who has visited nearly 100 countries in the past three years, believes that the key to a great staycation is first figuring out what you want to do, whether it’s a spa getaway or a hiking adventure.

“Then, choose the ‘where’ based on the place near you that offers the best of the ‘what,'” she told Business Insider.

2. Create a staycation budget

GaudiLab/ShutterstockDecide how much you want to spend.

Kevin Gallegos, vice president atFreedom Financial Network, said that it’s important to have a staycation budget in place.

“Just as you would (should) create a vacation budget, decide how much you can spend on your staycation,” he told Business Insider via email. “Do not go into debt to take a vacation, at home or away.”

However, Byron Ellis, a certified financial planner withUnited Capital and founder of “Doing Money Right,” said that you should still splurge a little on your staycation.

“You have saved a great deal by notpurchasing airline tickets, not sliding the credit card at the gas pump, and/or not paying for a room every night, so why not splurge a bit,” he said. “In the end, though, you want to spend much less than if you had gone out of town, but you don’t have to make it feel like you are on a budget.”

3. Use online resources

Daxiao Productions/ShutterstockThere are a number of online resources that offer discounts on experiences, food, and hotels.

“Staycations are a great way to fall in love with your home city, and many websites offer discounted tickets to tours and events that are worth buying,” Cory Sarrett, a consultant forLa Galerie Hotelin New Orleans, La., told Business Insider.

If you need some staycation inspiration, there are plenty of apps that can help. For instance,Jetsetternot only has hotel deals, they also have trip tips and destination guides.

Depending on where you live, you can also get great ideas fromTimeOut,Viator, andTripAdvisor. Then there are other sites, where you can get discounts on fun experiences and food, such asLivingSocial,Groupon, andRestaurant.com.

4. Rent a place, house-sit, or camp

Asukanda/ShutterstockCamping can be a good low-cost option.

If you’re looking to escape from your home for a while, you can rent a place onAirbnbor throughVacationRenter.

“A proper staycation is all about experiencing your city in a new light-and there is no better way to do that than staying in a unique vacation rental,” David Kolodny, co-founder of VacationRenter, told Business Insider.

“From options like a modern loft in the heart of the city to a cosy condo in a lesser known neighbourhood, you can find the perfect rental to make your staycation feel like an adventurous getaway,” he said.

If you’re trying to go the more economical route, you can house- or pet-sit for a friend. Or, you can do so for a stranger viaTrustedHousesitters.com.

Camping makes for a fun, low-cost staycation, too. “Many state and national parks have cabins for rent at prices much lower than hotels, and you can always borrow or rent equipment,” Ellis told Business Insider.

To save even more, he recommends visiting on one of theNational Park Service free days. “Plus, the ‘entertainment’ is free: hiking, watching wildlife, picnicking, and counting stars,” he said.

5. Check for credit card discounts

Matt Cowan/Getty ImageCheck your credit-card benefits for discounts on admission to events in your city.

In addition to the points or miles you gain from your spending, many travel-focused credit cards also offer special and/or reduced admission to concerts, restaurants, and other events.

“They may help you discover a new restaurant, attraction, or perk, like a free extra night at a hotel,” Annie Davis, president ofPalm Beach Travel, told Business Insider.

6. Be a tourist in your own city

Peter Macdiarmid/Getty ImagesVisit a museum you haven’t been to.

When’s the last time you took a tour in your own city? From historical mobster tours in Chicago throughUntouchable Toursto “museum-hack” tours byUnhighlights Tourin select cities, there’s probably a tour out there you haven’t tried.

“Open a map and pick out the places you want to go,” Caroline Topperman of “Style on the Side“told Business Insider. “All too often, we stick to the main streets when sightseeing, but here’s your chance to discover side streets, shops, and restaurants you might otherwise walk right past.”

7. Try Airbnb Experiences

Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesLocals organise activities like tours and classes.

You can also look for anAirbnb Experience, where locals conduct everything from city tours to cooking lessons.

Maria Leonard Olsen, attorney and author of “50 After 50: Reframing the Next Chapter of Your Life,” told Business Insider that she goes to Airbnb for guided walking tours, cooking classes, and tastings at local markets when she travels.

“I tried a session in an artist’s studio learning how to make prints that I very much enjoyed and would not have found if not for Airbnb,” she said.

8. Try new experiences overall

Mario Tama/Getty ImagesTry biking through a new part of town.

Gallegos suggested switching up your ordinary mode of transportation by walking or biking instead of driving or taking public transit in your hometown.

“The ‘new place’ might be a historic walking tour of your own downtown, a hike to a nearby park instead of the typical drive, or a few hours on a bike to another part of town,” he said.

9. Check Geotags on social media

Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesGeoTags on social media can show you photos of nearby locations.

Geotags, electronic tags that you can assign to social media posts to tie them to a particular location, are an easy way to get staycation ideas.

“This is particularly useful on Instagram, where you can actually search a location and have photos turn up in a place like ‘Rochester, New York,'” Chris Clemens, chief exploring officer of “Exploring Upstate,” told Business Insider.

10. Stay home

LightField Studios/ShutterstockTry ordering takeout from a new restaurant.

While your first choice may not be to staying at home, you can make it fun by surprising your partner or roommate with everything from an in-home massage fromZeelto food from a new restaurant they have been wanting to try.

“The perfect staycation involves pampering yourself,” Maggie Berghoff, a licensed nurse practitioner and functional medicine clinician, told Business Insider. “Take a little time to relax, take a bath, or do a face mask. This will help you leave your staycation feeling refreshed and vibrant.”

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