How to Plan a Family Staycation on a Budget

Mar 4, 2022 | Family Time, Lifestyle, Travel

Vacations are a wonderful opportunity to bond and make memories with your family, but DANG… they can be sooooo expensive! Instead of spending hundreds (or thousands) on a family vacation, plan a STAYCATION instead. It'll be just as fun and you'll save a TON!

family riding bikes on a staycation, from Fun Cheap or Free

According to Forbes, people spend an average of 10% of their yearly income on vacations. Think that sounds like a lot? Here's the real kicker—over half of those people don't even include that cost in their budget and the majority actually go into debt to pay for it!! Whaaaa?

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Well, guys… it's time to put away the maps and the brochures, fire your travel agent, and learn how to plan a staycation right in your own city. Feeling a little skeptical? Don't worry! We'll show you how you can have just as much fun finding adventure in your own town while spending little to NO money at all.


It's a well known fact that vacations often leave you feeling more worn out than before you left. Between packing, travel, checking in and out, and the constant barrage of activities—it is exhausting!

With proper planning, a staycation can have all the benefits of a traditional vacation without the stress, financial burden, OR the exhaustive travel. Need we say more? Use these tips and have the best staycation ever while rejuvenating your body and soul! Umm, sign us up, please!


family swimming in a pool, from Fun Cheap or Free

Depending on your staycation goals, you may want to choose a theme to center activities around. Does your family love the beach? Plan to take a trip to a local pool and spend time soaking up the rays. You can also stick to theme by visiting local aquarium centers and having an at-home Moana movie night. Make a staycation splurge and pick up a bucket of that yummy movie theater popcorn and bring it home!

Make it extra special and get some luau-themed decorations, cups, and plates to use when feasting on traditional tropical food and drinks! A little creativity can bring the relaxation of the beach to you no matter where you are.


Just because this isn't a traditional vacation doesn't mean you don't need to plan it out and set a budget. Determine how much you can spend and stick to that number no matter what. Remember, you don't HAVE to spend anything. Search around your area for free attractions. There are TONS! We even have a post dedicated to helping you find fun things to do near you, so be sure to check that out!

If you can't afford to have the staycation you want right now, use our best budgeting tips to save money fast and plan one for later. Don't stretch your finances too thin!


woman in a hammock outside, from Fun Cheap or Free

The point of a staycation is to get a break from reality and focus on having fun and resting, just like a traditional vacation. It is SO important, especially if you are staying at home, to set strict guidelines to protect the “staycation” nature of your time. That means… NO housework! Get your home clean and ready for your staycation before it starts so you can spend your time truly relaxing. Don't worry, the laundry will still be there when your staycation is over!

Also, make it a point to completely unplug from technology and just enjoy the company of your loved ones! It's worth it… we promise!


In order to save the most money possible during your staycation, search for deals on local attractions ahead of time. Groupon is a great place to start! We often find deals on local zoos, aquariums, safari rides, and museums there. Before you buy, make sure you check available dates.


One of the biggest downfalls of a traditional vacation is the non-stop going. When you travel to a destination, there is so much pressure to cram in as much activity as possible. You just don't want to miss out on anything! As fun as it may be in the moment, it is absolutely exhausting and leaves very little opportunity for any real down time.

Instead of cramming a thousand touristy things into your staycation time, pick and choose a handful of quality local attractions instead. Because you are staying near your home, there is no pressure to fit it all in at once. The beauty of an affordable staycation is you can take them more often without taking a hit on your financial goals!


little girl feeding giraffe with dad, from Fun Cheap or Free

Here are some of our best staycation ideas to get you started. Choose a theme for the whole staycation, or pick a theme for each day!


  • Hire a personal chef to come and cook for you in your home. 
  • Build a fire and roast marshmallows.
  • Enjoy a soda. (It is a staycation, after all!)
  • Order take out so there's no mess to clean up. 
  • Splurge on a 5-star restaurant.
  • Have a picnic in the park
  • Visit a local candy or fudge shop. (Or make your own fudge and save some major money!)
  • Take a family art or cooking class. 
  • Take a trip around the world and make your favorite cuisines from different parts of the country or world. Pinterest has tons of ideas!
  • Try out a new restaurant nearby.


  • Get dressed up and go to the theatre. 
  • Take a full-day trip to the zoo or aquarium. 
  • Visit a local tourist attraction, like a unique museum or restaurant. 
  • Go hiking at the lake. 
  • Rent kayaks or paddle boards and go exploring. 
  • Find a late-night spot for live music.
  • Rent scooters and tour the city. 
  • Rent a convertible for a day.
  • Visit an exotic animal park and feed the llamas. 
  • Go to a local pool and have a “beach” day. 
  • Sign up for family archery class. 
  • Take a leisurely bike ride as a family. 
  • Pose for cheesy photo opportunities! 
  • Rent a projector and host a drive-in backyard movie night. 


Make your staycation as unique as you are! If the idea of staying in your house is not appealing to you, book a few nights in a local hotel, resort, or rent a spot to go camping on the lake. Even if you splurge on local lodging, the cost is still minimal compared to a destination vacation. 

Just like a traditional vacation, your staycation should feel luxurious. If you can, include activities and foods you normally wouldn't normally indulge in. You deserve it!

Alright, now that you know how to begin… let's get to planning! Tell us your favorite way to staycation in the comments below!

Image with text that reads "plan a family staycation" from Fun Cheap or Free

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Happy staycationing! 🙂


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