This year, my family decided that we would not be going on our annual family vacation. Part of that decision was because of money, but a larger part was because just planning a vacation is flipping stressful. Sometimes, I feel more anxious after a vacation, which is counterproductive. So, this year, we’re taking a staycation at home and enjoying the sweet luxury of sitting around in our jammies until nearly noon. But that’s not all we’ve done. Check out these other ideas we’ve tried for taking a vacation when we can’t actually afford one.
Be A Tourist in Your Own Town
Even if you don’t live in a city, there are always attractions to be found in even the smallest of rural towns. Think like a tourist and create a one-day schedule of places to go and see without having to travel very far. If you have a public library, you may be able to take out a state park pass for a day or even a family pass for a children’s library. Call your local historical society and ask about tours or upcoming events. Does your town have any wild stories? In my hometown, there is a café located where a famous Mafia gangster was shot down by the FBI in the 30’s, and it makes for some very fun lunch conversations.
Go Camping in Your Own Backyard
This is possibly my favorite cheap summer vacation option, and honestly, it’s the one that my kids have the fondest memories of. Every year, we take a beat up old tent and create a little haven in the backyard. I hang white Christmas string lights around the outside of the tent to create a soft glow like a nightlight. My husband builds a fire to cook dinner over, then the kids get covered in stickiness with s’mores. Before they curl up in their sleeping bags, we give them glass Mason jars to fill with lightning bugs (don’t worry, we always release them.) Then, after it gets super dark, and after the kids have been asleep for a while, we wake them up and give them hot chocolate while they stare at the stars above. It’s pure (cheap) magic!
House Sit for Your Friends
Got a friend going away on some exotic and amazing vacation? Offer to house sit! Yes, even with kids. Think of it like staying at an Airbnb, except you know the family really well. For a few days, you get to change your outlook and be in some new surroundings. This is especially awesome if your friend happens to live on a lake or in a really cool city where your kids aren’t likely to get to spend much time.
Change Your Attitude – And Routine
What if for a few days you let everyone do basically anything they want? I know, I know, as a mom that sounds super stressful because our instinct is to avoid chaos. But hear me out. What if your kids eat junk, watch all the screen time, and be as lazy as they please for a few days? If the point of a vacation is to relax and recharge then why not try it at home? Create an easy menu for the week, rent a bazillion movies and download a bazillion games, and hang up a sign on the front door that says, ‘Do Not Disturb’. You could even pay to have a housecleaner show up once or twice to do the laundry and dishes for you. Not bad, eh?
Vacations are about spending quality and relaxing time away from all of those obligations that are responsible for jacking up our stress levels. Why not take the stress out of vacation by keeping it super low key, super affordable, and super fun?