5 Affordable Staycation Ideas for Real Relaxation

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American family spends around 44 percent of their vacation budget getting to and from their destination. But take the travel out of a vacation and you’ve got a money-saving, relaxing staycation.

If the word staycation conjures up thoughts of catching up on laundry and organizing the garage, you’re doing it wrong. These staycation ideas show you how to do it right.

1. Overnight in a Neighboring Town

The best vacations are stress-free, and what’s less stressful than a vacation where you can run back home for your toothbrush?

Budget: Look for hotel deals in the surrounding area, throw your must-haves in a bag and enjoy the relaxation that comes with sleeping in a bed you don’t have to make. Bonus points if there’s a pool.

Splurge: See if there are luxury hotels or resorts in your area. You may find lower pricing during the week than the weekend.

2. Enjoy a Spa Day

You don’t need to go to Sweden to get a relaxing Swedish massage, and you don’t need to go to a swanky resort to get a relaxing spa day. There are likely affordable options in your area.

Budget: Go the DIY route. Round up the essentials: oils, candles, music, a good book and a robe. For extra relaxation, try bubble baths and facial masks.

Splurge: Get an in-home private yoga session. Instead of visiting a crowded studio, get a personal instructor who can tailor the experience you want. Thumbtack, a site connecting customers with local professionals, can help you estimate prices based on factors relevant to you.

3. Get Back to Nature

Getting outside is proven to decrease stress, make you happier, increase creativity and boost kindness.

Budget: Pick up a book on constellations, pitch a tent in your backyard and prepare for a night of stargazing. The best part? You still have a working bathroom.

Splurge: Rent a cabin nearby. Travel + Leisure has rounded up the best places to camp in each of the 50 states, making it easy to decide where to go. Make the outing even more memorable by choosing a lakeside or coastal destination.

4. Eat Differently

You don’t cook when you’re on vacation. So, unless you particularly enjoy it, get someone else to do the cooking for you.

Budget: Try a local restaurant (check your credit or debit card points to see if you can redeem them for a gift card), or test out a meal delivery service like Plated or Blue Apron. You still have to cook, but it’s a lot easier when fresh ingredients and recipes are delivered to your door.

Splurge: Hire a chef for an in-home cooking lesson. ChefXChange makes it easy to search for professionals in several U.S. locales. Angie’s List notes that some chefs charge a flat fee ($20-$30 per plate), while others opt for an hourly rate.

5. Take Daytrips

A staycation doesn’t mean you’re stuck at home. Scope out nearby towns and cities to see what special events, festivals or attractions they have to offer.

Budget: Visit your local library and ask about free and discounted museum passes for cardholders. Museums and attractions often offer free or discounted days, too.

Splurge: Look at upcoming concert, theater or ballet calendars and purchase tickets to a show. Your staycation savings may even help you afford better seats.

Too often, we forgo exploring our hometowns to explore destinations farther afield, as if staying at home doesn’t constitute a real vacation. But it does — especially if you turn off your phone and let spontaneity dictate your days.

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