During the past 15 months people around the world have learned the meaning of minimal movement. The pandemic has changed our outlook, and as humans do, we have learned to adapt to our situation. What does this have to do with taking a vacation? Precisely that the meaning of vacation has been transformed – the ‘staycation’ has taken the lead, and all over the world, people are maxing out their creativity when it comes to vacationing closer to home.

A vacation takes careful planning, and importantly, budgeting. A staycation takes the same, but there are some ways in which this option is easier on the pocket. The best part is that with a staycation the travel time obviously is much less, so you’re immediately saving on fuel and transportation costs.

First of all let’s talk about timing – typically, a short getaway would take place on a weekend. We say break the rules – change your ‘weekend’ to midweek. This will not only reduce travel costs (weekends are peak travel time), but also reduces the possibility of your chosen destination being overcrowded, and could also save you some money for traveling on an ‘off-day’, too!

Next, consider the season. Peak season is summer (of course) but that does not mean all areas are completely booked out already. This may be the perfect time for you to visit less ‘popular’ locations, while everyone else is at the beach or the lakes. Summer is a great time to go hiking, camping, fishing, or even just having a relaxing weekend away from your home – and with some careful research you can easily avoid the crowds without breaking the bank.

We know that summer is expensive – luckily it’s only once a year, but how can you make sure you get the best bang for your buck? Let’s talk about smart saving – and how you can make your staycation work the best for you:

  1. Keep an eye on those last-minute deals – due to the past year’s hiatus on travel, many destinations and accommodations have been offering specials on their pricing. They are eager to get the clientele, and you are eager to save the money.
  2. Now is the time to take advantage of your travel points – when last did you check your air miles or vacation club points? Short stays don’t take up too many points, and you may even have some left over for your next long trip.
  3. Once you have decided on your destination of choice, take a look at the activities you might want to participate in. If you are looking at theme parks, or paid attractions, try to combine as much as possible and check if there are any multi-attraction discounts.
  4. Cooking your meals is the way to go for saving that extra cash – book a room with a small kitchen, and you will be surprised at the difference in your final staycation total cost. Restaurants are expensive; and opting to splurge on a single night out or two instead of dining out for every meal often feels like a nicer experience, anyway..
  5. Use your time wisely – if you’re trying to jam as many activities or attractions into your stay as possible, you may end up overbooking yourself and many places do not offer refunds. Plan your schedule accordingly, and never underestimate the pleasure of a lazy day lounging around the pool or garden.

You may be thinking ‘I can’t even afford to travel close to home’ – so our next suggestion is the ultimate money saver – stay-in-your-own-home-staycation. It may not sound ideal, but you will be surprised at how creative you can become given this option!

  1. Check your local news publications for events – depending on where you live and the current COVID-19 restrictions, many local museums, theatres, zoos and other attractions may offer discounted rates during summer.
  2. Take a sight-seeing tour of your own city – you may not have a ‘Hop-On, Hop-Off’ bus service, but you can rent a bike or scooter at relatively low costs.
  3. Plan a picnic – there is nothing that says ‘summer’ like a lazy Saturday afternoon picnic at the local park or by the lake. Invite your friends and family (if allowed), and you can transport yourself to any international destination – if you use your imagination
  4. Plan a restaurant hop – we have all heard of ‘bar-hopping’, but have you ever planned a meal at three or four different restaurants? Make it a party – phone the restaurants ahead of time, and start with pre-dinner drinks, moving to the next restaurant for starters, then a main course, and finally finishing with dessert. 
  5. Treat yourself to a spa day or a pamper party – your idea of pampering might include hiring a sitter and going out for the day with your friends, or the typical spa day with lunch. Go wild – this is your time!

No matter which way you decide to spend your summer staycation, make sure you are budgeting within your means, and don’t come home to nasty unpaid bills while you have placed yourself even further in debt. Now is not the time to dip into those retirement savings, be smart and you can still have the time of your life, even in these unusual times.