According to a 2013 survey by American Express, 31% of travelers planned to spend more than $1,000 per person, per week on their summer adventures (up from 27% in 2012). That means a vacation could cost about $4,000 a week for a family of four!
If you’re one of the many Americans looking to save a little green and still have fun, consider being a tourist in your own town. Whether you’re located in the suburb of a big city or a rural town in the shadow of the mountains, there may be a lot you’ve never thought to explore. Plus, with the average staycation costing around $500 for a family, there are great savings available when you stay home during your time off.
Lower staycation costs help you save for future vacations
When faced with the thought of a staycation, many families may wonder if it’s worth it. Will I be tempted to clean the house or finally build that shed? Is there even enough to do around me? Can I really save that much? When it comes to saving on vacation costs, staying home is a clear winner; there are no airfare or hotel costs, and you don’t need to worry about paying to board pets or eating out for every meal. Because even if you choose to eat out a few nights, hire a cleaning service for the week or stay over at a bed-and-breakfast or hotel one night, you’ll still have saved more than if you had taken the whole family to a remote destination. When you factor in the price of gas for day trips, dining out, groceries, a sitter and a few activities, you may be able to keep your spending at around $500 – eight times less than if you had spent your vacation elsewhere.
But no matter how relaxing they are or how much money you can save, staycations are no match for immersing yourself in another locale’s culture, cuisine and history. And it doesn’t have to be one or the other! While 57% of Americans named saving money as their top goal for 2013, 53% of travelers were still inclined to spend. If vacation costs are a concern right now, consider taking one staycation a year, or even every other year, to help save up for a more indulgent vacation next time.
Tips for a staycation
Staying home doesn’t have to mean sacrificing fun. Any travel expert will tell you that the number one rule of a staycation is to treat it like a real vacation – no answering work emails, doing housework or staying in the entire week. By following those simple don’ts, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy your time off without worrying about missed flights, lost reservations, packing or unpacking, and hungry or tired kids while traveling. Speak to a local travel agent to find out what they would tell tourists to see while visiting your area. Perhaps there’s a cool cave, trail or beach several miles away, or a museum you never visited that has demonstrations or low admission fees. You might be surprised what you’ve left unexplored in your own backyard.
Staycations give you the opportunity to try that new restaurant in town, spend a night without the kids while leaving them with a trusted sitter, relax and read a book at the beach or hike a trail you never knew was there. Use online social couponing sites to find great deals in your area, buy gourmet groceries to prepare something you wouldn’t normally splurge on, and take advantage of local activities like visiting parks, museums, beaches or zoos. Plus, the reduced travel time of a staycation gives you more time to relax and enjoy the vacation.
Create a plan and a budget for your staycation
Even with lower staycation costs vs. vacation costs, it’s still possible to overdo it when you’re at home. Plan your trip just as you would if you were going away – what will you do each day, how much will it cost and what will you need to participate? Whether you’re planning a staycation or vacation, it’s important to budget properly and keep track of your funds. Open an online checking account and make regular deposits each month before your time off to ensure you have what you need when you’re ready to stay home. Then, avoid spending with a credit card and only withdraw from the designated staycation account to stay on budget. While you may have turned off your work email, make sure you still use online or mobile banking to check balances or pay bills during your staycation.
What are your tips for making a staycation feel like a vacation?
Sponsored content was created and provided by RBS Citizens Financial Group.