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Staycations!: The Ladyguide to Getting Away on a Budget

As an avid traveler, I spent a lot of time searching for vacation deals and ideas. With my current job as a preschool teacher, I find myself needing to de-stress a lot more often than I had to in the past. A European vacation every single time I felt overwhelmed by work would be nice, but it’s certainly not practical. I was recently introduced to the concept of a “staycation” – that is, a vacation for which one stays at/near home, travels to local attractions and sights, and DOESN’T blow all of his or her money. The staycation is perfect for anyone wanting to get away on a budget. Here are some tips for those wanting to (kind of) escape.

1. Choose a place to go, but stay close!
When I embarked on my first staycation, it was in November with my good friend Chelsea. We decided to meet up in her hometown of Vicksburg, MI for a weekend of sharing laughs and saving cash. Our plan was as follows: Friday night and Saturday morning afternoon in Vicksburg, then a short drive north to Kalamazoo for a night at a hotel. All pretty simple, but a nice foundation for a good weekend away. Most enjoy a staycation for the fact that you are staying close to home – while I was technically away from my home (about two hours away), I still felt like I was enjoying a nice weekend away from it all”¦

2. Decide on things to do! Namely, cheap things!
Vicksburg is a fairly small town. I am also from a small village in Michigan, so I was prepared for some low-key fun. Heck, I was raised on low-key fun! Therefore, everything we did was pretty basic and really cheap. Friday night, Chelsea and I went to a play at her old high school. After the play, we drove back to Chelsea’s and did a bit of baking, a touch of hair-dying, and a nice marathon of already-seen episodes of 30 Rock. On Saturday, we went out for lunch and then drove to Kalamazoo for the night. While at the hotel, we hot-tubbed, ate an entire pizza, and enjoyed a Kill Bill marathon. These are, of course, all things you could do from the comfort of your own home, but they are so much more enjoyable when done in a king-sized bed that you didn’t have to make.

It’s the simple things.

All in all, Chelsea and I spent very little money on the weekend. The hotel room was our largest expense – approximately $90 each – and we paid for our own food and drink, which added up to approximately $40 each. I didn’t have to buy any souvenirs (my parents don’t need “˜I Love Michigan’ t-shirts or keychains), which also helped with my attempts at saving money. It was nice to spend money on the basics and only the basics.

3. Cut off contact from the outside world for a few days. Seriously. Try it.

I LOVE my iPhone. Love it. I’d lay it down and treat it to a night of romance if I could, but I can’t. With that being said, I knew that I had to turn it off to truly enjoy my few days away. I used my phone to call my parents once I arrived at Chelsea’s and in Kalamazoo, but for the most part, it was in my purse and out of sight. My laptop was a non-issue – I kept it at home – but I almost considered bringing it with me, which would have been a massive mistake. I would have been too busy on Facebook and Tumblr to realize that there is no one in the hot tub downstairs and that yes, it IS calling my name.

4. Enjoy your time away…
As stated previously, I have been fortunate enough to travel a lot in the past few years. Each of my trips has been a big one, though, and has required a lot of preparation. This staycation, while requiring some planning, was literally just a matter of me driving across Michigan to meet up with Chelsea. The relaxation factor of the vacation was amplified just knowing that I was not an ocean away from everything and, if I had forgotten to pack something, I could pick it up somewhere close.

5. …but remember to really look around. You’re at home.
While I appreciated my staycation for the time it allowed me away from work, I really loved staying close to home learning new things about a state that I have lived in for so long. For years, I have worked extremely hard to travel as far away as possible in an attempt to discover a part of myself; this staycation did an amazing job of allowing me to relax while discovering hidden gems right here at home.

Here are some great resources for those interested in a staycation:

http://www.staycationidea.com/
http://stress.about.com/od/travelstress/ht/staycation.htm
http://news.consumerreports.org/money/2009/05/tips-for-the-best-staycation-ever.html

By Caitlin

25 years old. Proud Michigander. Lover of Scandinavia, feminism, the Detroit Tigers, and perusing unaffordable real estate.

Du har. Du vil. Du burde.

6 replies on “Staycations!: The Ladyguide to Getting Away on a Budget”

Over Christmas I took a week off. I just stayed home, made plans with no one, used the phone as little as possible, avoided the internet as far as I could and just enjoyed my home. I did minor repair jobs, cleaned up the yard (there’s no snow here), made fabulous, time consuming dinners and cleaned. I think it  was one of my best vacations yet. I left the house only for tools and groceries. :)

Too many people just do drive-bys of their own homes. I wanted to sit in my living room and enjoy it for all its worth. And I wanted to see the sun in my home. I had been missing that in the winter months.

Awesome article! We love to travel too but when the economy tanked & I lost my job we had to cut way back. We joined our state park association (free) and started traveling closer to home & tent camping. I know you can only do this part of the year depending on weather & gear but it cuts the cost of somewhere to stay by almost 90% or more. It has let us see lots of places & meet lots of people & it frees up our budget for meals & entertainment. Win!

I used to live a couple of hours from Niagra Falls as well, and we would go over all the time, especially when we were younger because the drinking age was 19 to our 21.  We could always find a cheap place to stay, but they were usually pretty grimy.

I know my parents still go over often, and they frequently get free stays from the casino’s.  I know many times they’ll give you a free night just for signing up for their points program, so you might want the check into that.

My family used to do Niagara Falls this way: drive out in the morning, stop for a picnic lunch, look at the falls, go for a walk, visit a winery, have dinner, one last look at the falls, home. It can be an inexpensive, low-key trip. We’d usually go in early autumn and even the drive was beautiful.

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