Avoid vacation debt by staying home this summer – and still have - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Avoid vacation debt by staying home this summer – and still have fun

Updated: Jun 30, 2014 10:09 AM
© iStockphoto.com / Elena Elisseeva © iStockphoto.com / Elena Elisseeva

By Andrew Housser

Escaping life’s stressors with a getaway to a tropical beach or an island cruise is many people’s idea of the perfect vacation. Unfortunately, excursions like these are not always in the budget.  Even if a big trip is financially out of the question, there are affordable ways to rest and relax.

Stay-at-home vacations, or staycations, have grown in popularity over the years as discretionary income for many people shrunk. You might be surprised at how much fun you can have while staying close to home with these 10 local activities.

1.  Soak up some culture. Visit museums, botanical gardens and zoos in your area. Find historical sites to tour by checking the National Register of Historic Places. Sign up for a cooking class, partake in a wine tasting, learn how to make your own pottery, or spend some time honing a neglected craft or hobby.

2.  Take in a show. Summer is a time for blockbuster movie releases. But do not forget about other venues. Attend a free concert in the park; take in a community theater or dance production; see a comedy show; or enjoy a local band playing at a nearby nightclub.

3.  Explore the outdoors. Local, state and national parks offer a variety of activities including fishing, boating, picnicking, swimming, hiking, biking, camping and horseback riding. You can skip rocks in creeks, catch fireflies, collect leaves during a nature hike and enjoy s’mores cooked over a campfire.

4.   Become a better sport. Head to the high school tennis court and hit some balls. If it is in your budget, hire a coach to help improve your golf swing. Play disc golf for free at parks. Look for online coupons to local activities such as miniature golf. If you live in a city that has a minor league sports team, enjoy an outing to a game. Even an outing to a major league game, with pricier tickets, can provide great fun at real savings vs. a trip out of town.

5.  Go on tour. Some companies host public tours so you can see how they operate. You may be able to get a behind-the-scenes tour of sports venues, candy makers, breweries, fire stations, museums and other regional businesses.

6.   Dine out. You are saving money by staying home, so your budget might be able to splurge on a night or two of dining. About a month before your staycation, pay close attention to coupon sites like Groupon or Travelzoo, where you can score great deals on restaurant fare.

7.   Splash around. Waterparks and city pools with fun slides are more and more common. You can swim in lakes at certain parks. Or have your own water battles at home with squirt guns, water balloons, a hose and a sprinkler.

8.  Unwind. If a visit to a spa is not feasible, you and your partner can take turns giving each other massages. Treat yourself to an at-home manicure/pedicure or find discount coupons for these services. Turn your bathroom into a place of luxury by adding scented essential oils to a hot bath and enjoying a long soak.  Some people might want to spend on a thorough house cleaning before your week off begins for that resort feeling – at home.

9.   Have a movie marathon. Think beyond the newest releases to childhood favorites or movies from bygone eras. Grab some soda pop, popcorn and movie theater-type candy at your local grocery store to enjoy while watching the show. Some communities host free movies in the park or at swimming pools during the summer. If possible, take in a show at one of the few remaining drive-in movies.

10.  Host a party. Chances are that you are not the only ones staying put this summer. Invite family and friends for a fun day of barbecue and yard games. Ask them to chip in to pay for the rental of an inflatable bounce house or water slide. You can host the event at a nearby park to minimize the amount of work everyone has to do.

 
Andrew Housser is a co-founder and CEO of Bills.com, a free one-stop online portal where consumers can educate themselves about personal finance issues and compare financial products and services. He also is co-CEO of Freedom Financial Network, LLC providing comprehensive consumer credit advocacy and debt relief services. Housser holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Stanford University and Bachelor of Arts degree from Dartmouth College.
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