The ultimate frugal vacation

by Xin Lu on 2 June 2009 16 comments

Summer is coming up, and it is a great time to take a little break from work and relax.  The recession may have put a damper on many people's vacation plans, but there is a way you could save a lot of money and still have a comfortable break.  Here is the "secret" to the ultimate frugal vacation.

The cheapest way to  have a fun  and comfortable vacation is really just to stay home.  This may sound stupid, but the last time my husband and I came back from a two and half week trip to China we felt like we needed a vacation from our vacation because we were just exhausted from traveling.  Whenever I go to China I also have horrible jetlag when I come back so it takes me about a week to adjust.  We did have a great time in China, but home is where we can truly relax by doing nothing much at all. I really agree with my husband when he says that a true vacation is simply time off at home.

A vacation at home does not have to be  just  sitting around in your underwear and vegging out in front of the TV, though I must confess a bit of that is quite enjoyable.  You could plan day trips around your community such as hiking, bicycling, or just walking in local parks.  You could also check out local festivals and events that do not cost very much to attend.  Usually summer is full of these activities.  My husband and I also enjoy boardgames and video games and we could definitely play for days.

So if you cannot afford an expensive overseas trip this summer, perhaps taking a few days off and lounging in your home is the best way to go. Of course, it is especially enjoyable if you love the place your live.  Some folks already live in lovely resort like or beach properties so they do not have to go far at all.  This is a vacation with no jetlag, little to no driving, and all the freedom you want.  Best of all, almost anyone could afford this vacation. 

What do you think?  Have you ever taken some time off to go nowhere?
 

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Guest's picture
Lesa

I love taking time off to stay home. Time with family and friends means more to me then taking some elaborate trip... not that there's anything wrong with that, if that's what you're into and can afford it. :)

Guest's picture

The problem with most Americans is they go on vacation to "do something". So instead of spending time on a beach, doing absolutely NOTHING ( which is my definition of a vacation ), they run around seeing this and doing that and then come back exhausted. Stupid.

Guest's picture
Olivia

Since we have kids at home, doing nothing has limited appeal. "I'm bored..." But day trips on the other hand, win out. One year we scoped out freebies/cheapies within an hour and a half of home. We went to a pretzel factory, chocolate factory, art museum, farmer's market, and state museum. Plus we ate out (a treat in our family). We started by going to a local rest stop and restaraunt, stocked up on brochures, and decided from there. Now that we know the area better there are certain favorites we hit practically every summer.

Guest's picture

I agree that a bunch of kiddos running around the house throws a wrench in the "veg out" plan.

Every year my family gets a zoo membership and so during the warmer months we frequently spend hours there. The kids never get tired of it (neither do I for that matter) and they always come home exhausted from all the walking around. For $40/yr it's a fantastic deal.

Another thing we've done in the past is make overnight trips to the next largest city near us (Dallas, TX in our case). We grab a hotel on Priceline, hop in the van and go. The road trip is not long and it helps to get out of your own city for a bit. We'll hit a new restaurant and then spend time at the hotel, swim in the pool, etc.

Guest's picture
Tyg

We have lived in San Jose for over 10 years, and sadly unless we have people visiting who want to see the sights we NEVER go anywhere in San Jose (or San Francisco, or Napa, or anywhere else within driving distance really). Last year we took a 2 week "vacation" and decided to stay local and see all the things that we always meant to do. Since we weren't paying for airfare, a rental car, or hotels (we came home every night) we were able to spend a little money that we wouldn't have otherwise spent (a nice restaurant in SF, a splurge on a bottle of wine at a Napa winery, ect) and we had a fantastic time. It also helped that we did this in early May, before a majority of the real tourists were here.

This year we got a National Parks Pass ($80 gets you free admission to all National Parks for one year) and although we are going a little father away from home we are taking our vacation in pieces and going on weekend or extended weekend camping trips in several National Parks like Death Valley, Mojave, Joshua Tree, Yosemite, and more.

Guest's picture

Its amazing that you can live in a city and never seen many of the city's major attractions. This has happened to me here in Chicago.

Stay at home vacations are a perfect opportunity to see your own city's attractions.

Check with your local library first. They may have FREE passes to local city attractions.

In Chicago, for instance, the branches of the Chicago library system have free passes to local attractions like the Art Museum, the Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, Lincoln Park Zoo, and other popular destinations.

You simply need a library card to check out the passes from the library.

The CityPass website also sells discounted packages of tickets to major attractions. The CityPass Chicago package, for example, lets you visit 5 attractions for $69. Price of each attraction ticket bought separately is $130.50

If you are in a major city you can also catch discounted plays by visiting sites like http://www.hottix.org/.

They sell last minute tickets for half price which allows a particular theater to fill seats that would have gone unsold and allow you to get a great deal.

Because of the last minute nature of the ticket sales they are perfect for people on a stay at home vacation.

Maggie Wells's picture

I know a few friends that live in cities people want to visit and they do house swaps wiht people. You of course have to be comfortable with the idea, but they've gone away for a few weeks at a time without having to pay for a hotel!

 

Margaret Garcia-Couoh

Guest's picture
AmyAnne

Stay with friends! We did it in Brazil and in NYC. It's great to see a new place through the eyes of people who live there!

I'm also realizing what an amazing vacation spot I live in as I hang out with my international friends who are constantly in awe of our area. I love it!

Guest's picture
J.

My kids always sleep better at home, in their own beds, than they do in hotels. So for us, a vacation at home means everyone is well-rested and not grouchy. Then we can take day trips as others have mentioned.

Another fun thing to do is to camp out in the back yard.
This is plenty exciting for little kids, and it's easy to "bail" if someone can't sleep or is too cold, unlike on a "real" camping trip.

Guest's picture
Guest

You can rent out your American house and do a vacation south to hidden parts of Mexico (or any developing country) where it's $20 a day to live it up. Flights to South American are $400 to $500 round trip these days, and there is little jet lag, if any at all.

By doing this, we're actually earning a sum of about $1500 and feel like we've traveled somewhere incredibly historical, exotic, and restful.

Guest's picture

My wife and I get these mini "staycations" every other weekend when all the kids are gone with their other parents. They are priceless! This weekend is one of them . . .

Guest's picture
Edith

This may sound crazy and really dumb, but it was actually quite romantic.

We camped out in our living room (tent, sleeping bags, etc.) in front of the fireplace with a nice fire going. We made smores, roasted hot dogs, etc.

The truly nice thing is that the bathroom is very convenient and clean. And there's nothing to "forget" to pack.

Guest's picture
Jules

Get a wildlife guide and drive out (well, for me, it's a bike ride out) beyond the edge of "civilization"--i.e., the suburbs--and learn to see what you can see. It takes a little while to learn to spot birds, and in the thick of summer, songbirds are almost impossible to see, so you'd probably do better scouting for wildfowl along the nearest wild stretch of river.

A good guide, granted, is not exactly cheap (my Sibly's bird book looks to be about 25 euros), but the thrill of seeing new birds and new scenery and wildlife is addictive. Seriously--I wouldn't slog 20 miles on my bike loaded down with binoculars, camera (cheap P&S, but still rather bulky as it has a 10X zoom), bird guide, extra water, etc, if it weren't.

Guest's picture
Peter T

While camping at home, as some suggested, has its advantages, a trip with two tents to the nearby statepark is also cheap for families with small children like us, and good against "nature deficit disorder".

Guest's picture
Justin

I believe that "staycations" will be very popular this coming summer. With a little creativity, you can think of some great things to do for "staycation" and save money.

Guest's picture
Stephanie

No I haven't ever taken ime off to do nothing...but it sure sounds good right about now!

ps- If you're looking for a Vacation and don't wanna spend a lot of money, check out http://www.tipsforcostarica.com !