Planning a Great Staycation, a True Vacation at Home

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Planning a great staycation takes some forethought. There’s just too much busyness at home to really take a break and rest. Plan for your best vacation at home with these great tips from Amy Gross, founder of Mom’s Toolbox.

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Have you booked your plans for vacation yet? Wanna go see something fun and different with the kids and get a little relaxing in? Want to enjoy all your favorite foods—just the way you like them, or maybe try something a little more exotic?

Sure, I love boarding a plane and taking off for some place completely new. But I also enjoy skipping the jet lag or travel exhaustion and instead uncovering true gems much closer to home.

This Spring Break, consider taking the opportunity to do and see all the things you’ve intended to do but haven’t… stay at home and be a tourist in your own town! Plan a great staycation!

Think about it… you probably like where you live, but seldom get to really take it all in because you’re too busy getting the things done that “have” to get done. With a little planning, you can still feel like you are on vacation without even having to pack a suitcase and spend money on a hotel.

Planning a Great Staycation, a True Vacation at Home

How can it be done? I’ll tell you:

Determine your budget.

Just like any other trip, first think about how much you want to spend. Figure it out and plan around it.

Expenses to consider:

  • convenience food items to take a load off
  • restaurant meals to avoid washing dishes
  • attraction entrance fees (museums, amusement parks, etc.)
  • parking fees
  • toll roads
  • movie rentals
  • souvenirs – why not?!
  • miscellany (new swimsuit, beach chairs, sunscreen, etc.)

If you’ve set a decent budget, you can really enjoy your staycation and save money.

A woman wearing a hat and sunglasses posing for the camera at the beach.

Book your trip on your calendar.

Determine at what day and time you will begin your vacation, and then treat those times and dates as if they were flight reservations. This will help you get in the right frame of mind for getting things prepared and then getting back to ‘real’ life.

Don’t plan non-vacation things during those dates. This is not the time for home repair or other appointments. If you would like to allow for those types of things while taking a break from work or school, plan a day less for your “vacation” and schedule those things before or after your “trip.”

Research local attractions and build a vacation schedule.

You must have a few ideas of places you’d like to check out. Treat this trip like any other and put some time into researching the really fun and interesting things to do, narrow down your choices and plot them on your schedule. You may be surprised that you don’t know your local environs as well as you think you do!

  • Use TripAdvisor to search nearby cities for attractions and restaurants.
  • Ask friends what they enjoy doing.
  • Grab those free magazines at the doctor’s office and see what venues have advertising.

Consider at-home activities.

What at-home activities do you wish you had time for but never feel like you do? Pull out the dominoes, board games and videos you might have been waiting for the perfect time to watch. Borrow games, books and movies from neighbors and friends. Scan what’s new at Redbox, Netflix, or Amazon Prime Video.

Think about those really messy recipes and science experiments you never do with your kids… is this the time? Put these things on your vacation schedule.

Want a little relaxing time alone with your spouse? Now’s the time to figure out how you can make it happen. And if you want to use a sitter, call and schedule now.

Think about food.

Plan your meals in a way that you can do as much cooking in advance as possible so that when you are on vacation, you just have to do final preparations on your meals. If you plan it all out, shop and prepare in advance, you can make this a great staycation, one that really feels like you are on vacation.

When you do your pre-vacation shopping, be sure to buy everything you need. DO NOT plan for grocery trips during your staycation to pick up “just one or two things”…. Then you risk your week feeling like any other week.

But if you do have to shop, go to a store you never shop at. It will feel like a foreign land. 😉

A girl sitting at a table with a plate of food, a burger in the foreground.

Think about food some more.

Are there restaurants in town you want to try but always forget about? Now is the time to check them out. The trick to making this a great staycation is to treat it like a trip OUT of town.

Start making your list early and explore a new spot or two. Plan your budget to accommodate one special night out… whether special means upscale and fancy or a spot with a great sandpit for the kids to build sandcastles is up to you.

Make a vacation pact with your family.

What will the ground rules be in terms of doing ‘regular’ stuff while on staycation? Like I said, you want to feel like you are on vacation, not stuck at home.

You might consider a no-phone, no-email or no- internet strategy… or maybe just a limited –use policy.

Would you use those things if in a hotel or on a campsite? If you answer the phone, you could get caught up in things you wouldn’t be in if you were away.

Vow to yourself not to use this time to re-organize any part of the house. This is vacation. You must close your eyes to the to-dos around the house and just enjoy.

Prepare for the vacation.

You don’t have to pack your bags, but prepare yourself. Do any laundry, shopping, bill-paying, errand-running and other things you might do if leaving town for a few days. You want the vacation time to be just that: a vacation.

If you have clutter that will call your name, make a plan to get it cleaned up by vacation or find a way to hide it from yourself. Cover it. Box it up.

Do whatever it takes. But plan ahead so you don’t get sucked in to doing jobs instead of enjoying your time with family.

Start it off with a bang!

Mark the start of vacation with something out of the ordinary and enjoy the treasures around you… your family, your home and your area’s gems. Start with a special vacation meal to celebrate and take pictures to commemorate your fun.

By planning ahead, every day can feel like vacation… and all for a fraction of the price. Bon Non Voyage!

A woman in glasses looking at the camera, with wine in background.— Amy is the Mom behind Mom’s Toolbox. She is a full time mom and a full time tech startup entrepreneur as the Founder and CEO of VineSleuth/ Wine4.Me. She is a world traveler — in heart, body, and prayer. Amy writes to equip moms with tools for success whether at home or abroad.

What would make a great staycation for YOU?

Originally published March 15, 2011. Updated February 17, 2018.

image of child\'s dresser with text overlay: Planning a Great Staycation.


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  1. I love the friend maid service swap , that sounds awesome! What a great idea!!!

  2. I’m trying to plan our staycation for this year. I have a friend who is to come over each morning during our “vacation” and make beds, do laundry, straighten bathrooms, and wash dishes. She’s also bringing a cooked meal for each evening. Now I can *really* enjoy MY vacation!

    1. LOL, yes, she is! But we are swapping out, so I’ll be returning the favor 🙂

  3. My husband and I were just talking this weekend about our staycation plans so this is perfect timing!

    My tip is to alternate big days with low-key days. We have littles that still need naps so doing a big all day event and then something less exhausting the next day so they can get naps makes everything more enjoyable!

    Oh, and my husband and I will alternate who gets up in the morning when the kids wake up, so that we get some sleep in days. 🙂

    Thank you for the tips!

  4. These are some great tips! We’re currently about halfway into our Spring Break here in Texas this week and we’ve been planning our Staycation activities on the fly. So far, we have been fishing, to the beach, strawberry picking, playing with friends (for three hours!) and been playing lots of board and card games. Oh, and a trip to the giant new JoAnn’s store that just opened (ok, that was for me!) The one thing that REALLY makes it seem like vacation to me? No cooking (or at least no cooking for dinners). Yet to come, visiting with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Whew! We’re packing in a lot. Almost feels like summer time. 🙂 I think we’re the only onese that stayed in town this year–or it sure feels like it–but we’re making the most of it!

  5. Great Post! We are planning our own “staycation” this year, and now I can work on making it a great one! 🙂