Military life isn’t the only reason to staycation. While this series has focused on military towns and military bloggers anyone anywhere can staycation. As this series winds down I’m excited to launch a photography challenge that I have been working on. We want to be able to capture all of our vacations, staycations, and everyday fun in beautiful pictures. Click here for more information and come back all week to learn more!
Our time in Memphis at St. Jude Children’s Hospital has monopolized the majority of our vacation time and we have learned to make the most of one city on a budget multiple times for years. Perhaps it is a desire to just get to know your town, save some money, relax at home, or not mess with the hassle of travel. Whatever the reason Jeannie Ewing is sharing with us today 5 budgeting tips anyone (military or civilian) can utilize on a staycation.
5 TIPS FOR STAYCATIONS ON A BUDGET
My husband and I have two girls ages 4 and 2, both of whom have special needs. With medical bills and not much vacation time, we’ve had to discover creative and unconventional ways to have fun as a family without going far from home.
Several years ago when the term “staycation” was coined, I jumped at the concept, because I’ve always enjoyed a challenge, especially when it deals with frugal living. I hope to share some of my tips that have enabled me to continue staying home with our daughters and living on my husband’s income alone.
1. RESEARCH LOCAL HAUNTS AND HIDEAWAYS.
I live in north central Indiana, and, believe me, most people snort and grunt when I tell them that yes, there is more in Indiana than corn and cows. If you don’t live in a major metropolitan area, chances are you are in a similar situation to our family’s: You aren’t sure what there is to do in your geographical region.
Start by doing some research. We live in a sleepy rural town, but just by listening to conversations at the local grocer or engaging in casual banter with our neighbor, we have learned about the hidden hideaways that are merely miles away from where we live, such as Amish bed and breakfasts, local artisans and food/farmers markets, plus free concerts and carnivals.
Start talking! You can also research online, but you are more likely to find the gems by word-of-mouth.
2. DO A ONE-DAY ROAD TRIP.
We have small children (ages 2 and 4), so traveling long distances doesn’t work well for our family. Road trips do, however, because we can stop frequently for restroom and food breaks or to rest.
Try a mystery road trip. You can decide how many miles you are willing to travel in one day. Then make cards for north, south, east, and west, along with some that say 5, 10, 15 (and so on) miles. Have one family member draw a directional card and another family member draw a mileage card. That will tell you which direction and how far to go before drawing cards again. It’s fun! My family did this about ten years ago, and we ended up at a beautiful state park in southern Ohio.
Speaking of state parks…
3. CAMP OR MAKE A DAY TRIP AT A STATE OR COUNTY PARK.
State parks do have a nominal fee for entrance and camping overnight, but after that, you are free to use their amenities (respectfully, of course) for free! Think of the fun you can create with your family and the bonding moments of unplugging from technology by taking a trip to a state park.
Our girls love nature, so the free nature hikes and animal demonstrations by park rangers are always a hit for them. They also love the nature centers and hikes. Most of the time, my husband and I can teach the girls about different species of birds and varieties of plants and trees on the hike. Bonus: You get great exercise for free!
Afterwards, you can have a picnic, which also costs nothing more than your regular grocery bill, plus it will be healthier than fast food.
4. PACK YOUR LUNCH.
Whenever we take a trip with our girls, we pack a cooler full of healthy snacks and lunch foods. My kids are cranky when they are hungry, so it’s never fun for us to be without energy-boosting homemade trail mix and fresh fruit or veggies with hummus. Sandwiches are easy and portable, too, along with bottled water for hydration. This saves an enormous amount of money when traveling, even if you are doing an extensive road trip. We always take a cooler with us, regardless of the amount of time we are away.
5. GET AWAY FOR AN AFTERNOON.
Sometimes we don’t have a full day to pull away from our daily responsibilities, but a half day works nicely to rejuvenate and connect with your family. Some of our favorites include a family bike ride on a nearby nature trail, visiting the local dam or park and having a picnic lunch, and swimming at the community pool for a couple of hours. All of these cost either nothing or very little, so we are able to enjoy life without it costing us a fortune!
The bottom line is this: You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to create quality fun and lasting memories with your family!
Text Copyright 2015 Jeannie Ewing, all rights reserved.
Image Copyright 2015 “Road” by Unsplash on Pixabay and edited in Canva by Jeannie Ewing.
Jeannie Ewing is a writer, speaker, and grief recovery coach. She is the co-author of Navigating Deep Waters: Meditations for Caregivers. Jeannie was featured on National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition and Tony Agnesi’s radio show Finding God’s Grace. She offers her insight from a counselor’s perspective into a variety of topics, including grief, spirituality, and parenting children with special needs. Jeannie resides in northern Indiana with her husband and two daughters, both of whom have special needs. For more information on her professional services, please visit her websites lovealonecreates.com or fromgrief2grace.com.
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