How to Engineer The Perfect Frugal Summer Staycation

Date posted: May 19, 2016

Photo Credit: Lance Anderson


As the weather starts to warm and the flowers begin to bloom, it’s natural to start planning your summer vacation. But before you book a cottage or a trip to a far away island, consider whether your budget and your financial goals can handle an expensive vacation.

If you’re trying to pay off debt or save for a large purchase, forgoing an extravagant getaway can be an excellent way to reach your goals sooner. Fortunately, you don’t have to spend money to have a great vacation. In fact, you don’t need to go anywhere! You can have a great summer vacation without ever leaving your home by going on a staycation.

A staycation is when you stay home and spend time doing activities either at home or within driving distance. Staycations are an economical alternative to spending money on flights and hotels. Staycations gained popularity in the 2007-2008 financial crisis, as many North Americans stopped spending money on travel and instead stayed home and enjoyed their local amenities.

Here’s how to have a fun and frugal summer staycation.

Activities Within Driving Distance

There are two categories of activities to enjoy during your staycation: Activities close to home, and activities at home. A good staycation has a mixture of both. First, find events within driving distance. Things like hiking, going to the beach, enjoying festivals or free concerts, or exploring your city are good places to start.

To keep these activities extra frugal, follow these pro tips:

First, bring food with you on your day-trip. Bringing food with you will limit the temptation to buy meals or snacks on the go, which can add up fast.

Second, if you have a dog, bring them with you while heading out to explore your city. Having a dog with you will limit your ability to pop into a restaurant or pub for a drink since most venues don’t allow pets.

Finally, put a meal into your slow cooker before you leave. When you get home, and you’re tired from a day out, you’ll have a hot and delicious meal waiting for you.

Activities At Home

Instead of going to a cottage for your vacation, a staycation brings the cottage to you. Outfit your home in advance for an excellent vacation experience: hang a hammock, buy enough groceries to last the week, have a campfire and even set up a tent in the backyard. These activities will get you out of your comfort zone, shake up your routine and make your staycation one to remember.

My personal favourite at-home staycation activity is to set up an outdoor movie theater complete with a projector, popcorn and blankets laid out on lawn chairs.


For me, one of the best parts of a vacation is to disconnect from the online world. I don’t check my email, Twitter or Facebook. Instead, I read and play board games or card games. This time away from my screens is what makes a vacation restful.

Unfortunately, having a staycation where you’re home and around all of your normal routines may mean that you don’t end up feeling all that peaceful unless you make a point to give up some screen time.

So make a point to unplug. Don’t allow yourself to while away the hours on Facebook, let the important people in your life know that if they want to reach you, they can call you, and let the rest of the world get along without you.

Having a restful and exciting vacation doesn’t have to cost you thousands of dollars. Save money for your financial goals like paying off debt or saving for a house down payment by opting for a staycation instead. Your wallet will thank you!

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