If you’re vacationing at home this year, then you need some staycation ideas!

I mean, who doesn’t love a vacation?!

Taking some needed time away from the day-to-day responsibilities of life to escape for a week of fun sounds glorious, right?

Unfortunately, the cost of a vacation whether it be spring, summer, or Christmas can be exorbitant and sadly can exclude a lot of folks from the relaxation time they really need.

So what if we tweak the way we think about vacationing and turn that “getaway” into a staycation instead.

Excite your sense of adventure and make wonderful memories with your family with these staycation ideas.

With no costs for airfare, rental cars, or hotels, you can save that extra money and still do some super special stuff right here at home.

Start With Intentional Planning & Creative Thinking

It will only take a little bit of intentional planning and creative thinking to make these ideas to life because you deserve a week off. Think of the word “staycation” as a fancy term for spending your time off at home!

If the staycation idea appeals to you, there are some cut-in-stone rules you must agree as a family to abide by in order to make yours successful. Otherwise, your staycation will almost always end up getting derailed and turn into an “everyone had a week off but me” that’s destined for the book of bad memories.

So let’s learn all about these family staycation ideas at home so you too can have a week of frugal fun with your family.

Plus, I’ve got plenty of staycation ideas at home things to do so your family will never get bored.

And, with these staycation ideas for kids at home, your family will be learning and having a blast too!

In order to ensure your staycation is truly an enjoyable time for your whole family, I’ve put together a nice list of some Top Inexpensive Staycation Ideas for you to enjoy.

staycation ideas

First, Establish the Rules

How many times have you thought about spending a week at home with the most grandiose plans to have it all fall by the wayside because of poor planning? Take a look at these family staycation ideas at home to have a vacation you’ll love!

Here’s what you do: Call a family meeting (or 2, or 3 or 4) a few weeks out and cover the ground rules. The conversation may go something like this, “We can’t afford to stay in a hotel, but what we CAN do is ____, and in order to make it feel like a true vacation, we are not going to be doing any ____ (lawnmowing, house repairs, laundry, etc), we want to do something almost every day, we want everyone to participate in planning…”


Create A Plan For Your Money

These FREE Budgeting Spreadsheets will help you keep a pulse on your money (from the palm of your hand).

Make Up Your Family’s Rules

This is your family, your family’s rules. Make them up as a family and hold each other accountable as a family. With these staycation ideas, your week ahead has the potential to become some of your best memories down the road!

To begin, decide exactly when your vacation at home starts and ends, and then (as a family brainstorm) set a few guidelines for what your family may and may not do during this time.  Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • No checking emails
  • No computers
  • No television (except family chosen activities… Wii Dance Party anyone?!)
  • Skip the News
  • Don’t open the mail
  • No working from home
  • No worrying
  • No cleaning
  • No laundry

Forget the world and focus on what’s happening right in front of you. These items will all be waiting for you when your staycation is over. Make those important family connections while you have the chance.

staycation ideas

Second, Set The Schedule

Get the whole family involved in choosing some places to visit, movies to rent, or other family adventures you are going to do. The more each family member participates in the planning, the more they will participate in the doing.

Once they are decided upon, pick the day/dates and buy the tickets now to ensure you won’t back out. It’s easier to go if your family staycation ideas at home are already pre-planned.

Make a chart out of poster board and hang it up to build excitement leading to the event with a countdown calendar “ONLY 11 Days till we… !”

Prep Your House

To have a successful staycation, you will want to spend a little time prepping your home to make things as easy during the week as possible. Gather local menus that offer takeout or delivery or, if eating out is not in the budget, plan a freezer cooking session ahead of time to prepare a week of easy meals to grab & cook while on the run of fun activities.

Consider using mostly disposable dishes & utensils to pare down on dishwashing and cleanup. Just like you were headed on a traditional vacation, make sure to get caught up on your laundry before the week begins.

Also, if possible, do a family power-cleaning session the day before your staycation starts. Divvy out the chores, everyone helps and then everyone gets to rest!

staycation ideas

Free Or Cheap Staycation Ideas & Activities At Home

We know a vacation can be challenging, but try to forget the mess for a few days and just relax and enjoy each other.

Think of some fun staycation ideas at home things to do and put them into action, but plan ahead now and get everything in place. No wasted days trying to “figure it all out!”

Need a few examples? Okay, here are a couple (or around thirty) staycation ideas:

  • Create Your Own Drive-In Movie Theater – Borrow or rent a projector, connect it to your laptop computer and show a free movie on your garage door (or side of your house)! Pop some popcorn, grab some drinks and sit in the car with your family to watch the movie. Don’t want to sit in the car? Be the envy of the neighborhood – or invite them.  Pile up in your most comfy lawn chair, tent, sleeping bag or otherwise and enjoy the show! (Don’t forget the glow sticks to make the night more “magical”)
  • Have A Water Balloon Fight – We love doing this! There are loads of games you can play as a family with water balloons, simple toss to see who breaks the least amount of balloons, or duck tape an Alka-seltzer to your chest and play all-out war! The last one who still has part of the tablet on their chest when the balloons are all gone WINS.
  • Backyard Camping (complete with outdoor cooking) – Want the experience of sleeping under the stars, cooking your dinner over an open flame, sitting around the campfire singing and telling stories?  You can do all that right in your own back yard with the added convenience of hot and cold running water and clean bathrooms just a few steps away!  If you don’t already have them, borrow some tents or purchase them inexpensively at Army surplus stores or even catch them on sale at the right time of year (January) and store till time to use them. Employ your clothesline and hang a bedspread or comforter over it. Use anchors to spread out the corners and instant tent! Spread a tarp underneath, add sleeping bags or air mattresses and you’re all set! Oh, and don’t forget to roast the marshmallows. (Does anyone have that mental image of eating “hobo” meals wrapped in tin foil that you cooked over the fire yet?)
  • Star Gazing – Visit a local planetarium or simply go outside once it gets dark and spend the time under the stars with a few astronomy books. See how many summer constellations you can find. Download the Night Sky App and find the planets.
staycation ideas
  • Plant A Garden – Involve the entire family in planning, digging, planting & watering a new garden project as one of your staycation ideas. You could do a quick square foot garden (here are some gardening ebooks to get you thinking) or redo your front flower bed. Getting dirty is always a fun family activity.
  • Play Frisbee Or Badminton – These are two great, common outdoor games of catch (but football and volleyball are great too). Plus, they are inexpensive. A couple of dollars, and you will have hours of fun… but don’t get too competitive. Then it’s no longer fun.


Create A Plan For Your Money

These FREE Budgeting Spreadsheets will help you keep a pulse on your money (from the palm of your hand).

  • Treasure Hunt – We love to do this for extra special Christmas presents, so doing it for a summer {stay}vacation would make it all the more special. Leave funny clues around the home, yard, car, park, etc and send your kids/hubby on a major hunt for fun prizes (think Amazing Race!!).
  • Decorate Your Backyard For The Week –  For an added touch of elegance, add a few candles or tiki torches around the area. Solar garden lights can be purchased very inexpensively (as low as $1 each) and can be staked in the ground individually – great for lighting those “camp paths” back to civilization! There are lots of cheap and easy lighting possibilities; check your local discount stores for cheap LED tea candles or other safe and cheap solutions. Believe it or not, all these little touches will be the things your kids remember the most, so add some ambiance for your staycation ideas for kids at home! Play cards or eat dinner out there every-single-night. That is sure to stick in their minds.
staycation ideas
  • Make Fancy Flavored Drinks Or Treats – Turn a normal glass of water into a special tasty refreshment. It will make everyone feel extra special for the week. We are not talking rocket science here, just making your loved ones feel special. Fill your pretty pitchers with ice and slices of oranges, lemons, limes, and strawberries. Or maybe make a punch that everyone can sip on all day.
    Don’t miss out on making your own Dole Whip!
  • Family Game Night –  Your kids will love to play games with you and it’s a great way to enjoy getting to really connect with each other, having fun and laughing together. Board games are always great choices for staycation ideas, but how about mixing things up a bit? I’ve got another post with 50 Fun Things To Do With Kids Over A Summer Break that you could choose a few to do during a week of vacation!
  • Put On A Play (or a 1-2 person monologue) –  This can be as big or small of a production as you like it to be (and “creativity” is the go-word here). Kids and adults can spend time rehearsing, pulling together costumes and making invitations for their (and your) friends.  This is a wonderful way to encourage and stimulate your child’s imagination! It is super easy to find play scripts for even just 1 to 2 people! Or, you could also use this time to memorize a famous poem (remember, Casey at the Bat?!! I love that one!) Check out this great list of 21 Famous Poems for a few ideas.
  • Nightly Read Alouds – Choose a book and read 3 chapters each night. It is really fun to choose a book that might be set in a different time period so that you can use a fake voice. My kids moan when I read stories with “Western” characters… because I always beef up the “Howdy, Ya’ll!” southern accent! I know they actually love it… (If you are looking for a few ideas though, Encyclopedia Brown has always been a family fave of ours. And, I’ve been wanting to read The Kingdom Series by Chuck Black for a few years now.)
  • Have A Theme Day – Choose a theme and make the entire day fit within that mold. For example, I love Mexican foods. Soooo, I would choose one day during our staycation as a Mexican Day. All the food would be Mexican themed with a Burrito or Taco bar, then have the kids bust open a piñata, and use our Wii Dance party game to dance to that Ricky Martin song. And then even end the night making fried ice cream. The goal is to make a memorable time, with a LESS memorable cost.
staycation ideas

Free Or Cheap Activities Near Home

Some of you long-time TrueMoneySavers may recall a story about my parents taking my family one year to visit all the antique stores up the eastern coast of the U.S. As a kid I thought it was just sheer torture, but now as a homeschool Mom I see the value in learning about our heritage and culture through those stores!

Truth be told, I actually have fond memories of sitting on those southern porches in rocking chairs and sipping soda from old-fashioned glass bottles! This creative trip inspired by my parents has been the catalyst for us to do some creative, inexpensive trip planning for our own family.

Worried about the gas expense for visiting all these activities? Don’t miss reading my article about how to save money on gas.

  • Get Outside And Play – Go fly a kite, take a walk, ride a bike/scooter/skateboard, or simply walk along a hike! It is very easy to find walking, hiking, or biking trails. Pack snacks (and lots of water!) and head outside to enjoy God’s great creation. Everytrail is a great resource for hiking trails and short backpacking trips.
  • Watch A Sunset Or Sunrise – Go to the beach in the afternoon, not to swim, but instead, just to watch the sunset and then stick around to star gaze for one of your staycation ideas. Or plan to get up before the break of dawn and head over to the beach to watch the sunrise. **NOTE: Before you get up that early, pay attention to where you live, you might be able to see the sunrise right from your front yard. I am on the west coast of FL, so going all the way out to the beach for a sunrise is not quite as effective as the sunset.
  • Go Fishing – Rent a boat or find a beach or dock to fish from and spend the entire day out on the water with a few fishing poles. Maybe you’ll even catch dinner?! If you go to the beach, don’t forget to bring along the fun toys to make it memorable such as building sand castles and burying each other in the sand.
  • Go Tubing – Float your troubles away with a fun day of tubing down a river. There are rivers to float down in every single state!
staycation ideas
  • Climb a Tree – Is there a massive tree near you at the park that you never allow the kids to climb? Maybe you run out of time or fear the kids will get hurt. Well, IT’S VACATION TIME, so now you can go to that tree just for the sole purpose of climbing it.
  • Canoe or Kayak – Rent or borrow a canoe and/or a kayak. Then using teamwork, row down a stream, and enjoy the scenery.
  • Poolside Relaxation– Maybe you have a membership to the YMCA or your neighborhood has a community pool. Let the kiddos play while you catch a few rays, enjoy a good book (resist the urge to get on Facebook or check email), relax in a comfortable pool chair, and sip a tasty treat.


Create A Plan For Your Money

These FREE Budgeting Spreadsheets will help you keep a pulse on your money (from the palm of your hand).

  • Geo-cachingHave you ever done one of these real-life outdoor treasure hunts? We love them! Each year when we get together with my sister, she looks on her smartphone for a couple geocaching locations and the kids help her find the treasure box. They add their name to the list, swap out a small trinket and beg us to “do another one”.
  • Try Paintball or Laser Tag – Invite a couple other families to join yours and battle it out in an all out war of Kids vs Parents. Don’t forget to check the Daily Deal sites such as Groupon or LivingSocial for a discount coupon once you find the name of the facility near you.
staycation ideas
  • An Evening At The Theater – Check your local newspaper or theater website to see what plays, musicals, concerts, or family-friendly comedy shows will be playing during your planned staycation time. Then book tickets and plan for an evening at the theater (dressing up is always fun).
  • Family Excursion – Want something different to do in your local town but aren’t sure what? Look at the local section on Groupon and LivingSocial there are always businesses trying to entice new customers with a good deal that would make for some great staycation ideas. You might find a segway tour of your town or even skydiving {gulp}.
  • Paint Dishes – Have you driven past that Paint-Your-Own-Pottery place a zillion times like I have?!! Well now is your glorious time to do it. Spend an afternoon with your favorite people, getting creative. Not only is it fun, but you’ll have gorgeous personalized dishes to take home with you when you’re done. Don’t need dishes? Get a head-start on your Christmas giving and make something for someone special.
    You can also paint some at home with the instructions here!
  • Go On A Dinner Cruise – Before James and I were married, we looked for inexpensive yet creative dates to go on. We found (some) dinner cruises that were loads of fun (you have to ask if they have gambling on the cruise, that could ruin the “cheap” part). You could also check for a mini cruise or boat tour such as touring to see dolphins, or just go for a few hours out on a lake.
staycation ideas
  • Use Public Transportation – Have your kids ever ridden on the city bus? What about taking a beach trolley, or the subway? It’s a fun experience to take a map and route out where you will go for the day and get there via public transportation buses. Head over to a downtown area, visit a museum or play at a park, then have a picnic and start the ride back for one of your staycation ideas.
  • Camp At A State Or National Park – If you need a place to stay on the cheap for your vacation, you might consider the lodging available in State and National Parks.  Many of them offer use of cabins or campgrounds at a fraction of the cost of a hotel, plus all the park’s amenities! To find more details, first choose the National Park or State Park you wish to visit then click on “lodging” or “camping” for that particular park ~ they differ in what’s available, time of year,  and availability because they are all vastly different!
  • Field Trip Time – Ever thought about touring an industrial site? Yes, we said “industrial site.” Some manufacturers provide public tours for groups to “show you how it’s made.” While they may not schedule a tour just for your family, they may indeed schedule one for your homeschool group, your scouting troop, Sunday School class, or otherwise. Take advantage of these and combine them during the week of your staycation!  Check to see if you have a Crayola Experience near you. You will learn how crayons are made and learn the history of an iconic toy at the same time.
  • FREE Or Cheap Summer Movies – Did you know that most theaters throughout the country offer movies over the summer at a MASSIVE discount when you go on a weekday morning? It’s so much fun and a great idea for family staycation ideas at home! The movies are slightly outdated, but for FREE (or super cheap) it is a fun experience at the big screen!
  • FREE Summer Bowling – This is a wonderful opportunity to get some (FREE) exercise over the summer…bowl! This would be a great backup indoor activity to keep in mind for a rainy afternoon too. Get two games FREE per child per day. You will have to pay for shoe rental (unless you bring your own).
staycation ideas

Take A “One Tank Road Trip”

Look on a map for fun historical locations that are about 100 miles away that would only use one tank of gas for the round trip. It is far enough away to make a day of it, yet close enough to get back home for your staycation accommodations (aka your own bed). It’s makes for some great staycation ideas when you’re feeling cooped up a little too long.

The National Park Service website is brimming with information on upcoming activities and events.

As a Mom who loves and needs to save money, I can’t think of a better or more inclusive way to not only have fun with your kids, but expose them to history, explore nature, and get involved in community events.

Also, did you know that active military members and their family can get a FREE annual pass? We love our military and are thankful for each and every one – past, present and future, who sacrifice and serve our nation. You can find the FREE annual pass details HERE.

staycation ideas
Often one of the most underused resources is your own city’s visitor center or chamber of commerce. Every state has some wonderful attractions within just a few hour’s drive, which leaves plenty of time to enjoy the sites and arrive back safe & sound in your own personal “hotel” by bedtime. There’s more out there to explore besides the usual museum or zoo (although those are fun too).

Just think about what you could find:

  • All the local murals you haven’t seen
  • New parks you haven’t visited yet
  • What about that new ice cream shop you’ve been wanting to try?
  • What about finding all the historical markers near you? And then learning about them. You could even make a timeline of the ones you find.


Create A Plan For Your Money

These FREE Budgeting Spreadsheets will help you keep a pulse on your money (from the palm of your hand).

Maybe you are already going on a road trip to a wedding or family event. Plan to extend your stay a couple of days to take advantage of visiting attractions or historical places local to the area.

You can order free travel brochures for *almost* every state that you will travel through or visit first hand. They are beautiful, informative, and make wonderful additions to the scrapbook after the trip!  Give it a try and get yours for free at travelinformation.com.

Make sure to order them ahead of time for every state you will be traveling through (allow 2-3 weeks). Plus, if we have extras that we aren’t going to use or scrapbook, we use them for wrapping friends gifts!

staycation ideas

Create A Time Capsule

End your staycation by creating a family time capsule. This is the perfect way to look back at the memories you created during the week.

Print out a few photos from the week and include them too. Make up a fun questionnaire listing everyone’s favorite food, favorite mMovie, favorite staycation activity, etc. This will help you to remember more details from the week. Label it with an “open” date and hide it in the top of someone’s closet to open it up in a few years. How fun will THAT be?!!

Your staycation is only going to be as successful as your dedication to making it special.

You may be staying on your home turf, but that doesn’t mean you should lower your expectations or simply fall back into the mundane.

I hoped you’ve learn all about these family staycation ideas at home so you too can have a week of frugal fun with your family.

Plus, there are plenty of staycation ideas at home things to do so your family will never get bored.

And, with these staycation ideas for kids at home, your family will be learning and having a blast too!

Excite your sense of adventure and make wonderful memories with your family!

Your Turn: What are you excited to do first out of all these staycation ideas? Comment below and let me know!

How To Have A Fabulous Vacation Without Leaving Home