With Easter barely a week away, many people will be planning to take a few days off. Unfortunately, lots of us will find ourselves with holidays approaching, but no spare cash to pay for a proper vacation. If you’re feeling the pinch, you’re not alone. The majority of Australians have curbed their spending habits in response to the economic slowdown. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a wonderful week of rest and relaxation – or sightseeing and stimulation!
As people have been increasingly watching their pennies, the idea of “staycationing” has grown in popularity. Staycationing involves holidaying at home or very close to home. To get the most out of staycationing, you need to treat it like a proper vacation and start preparing in advance.
The first step is to create a budget. Work out how much you can afford to spend and stick to it. Avoid using credit to pay for your staycation. As you’ll see below, there are lots of fun staycationing activities that are cheap or free. Don’t hesitate to call MyBudget if we can assist—we’re always here to help.
Once you have a budget, start planning your activities. If you have a family with children, this is a great time to get the kids involved while they also learn about money management and group decision-making. You could, for example, set the kids some extra homework researching the cost of activities or ask them to draft an activity plan that accommodates everybody’s preferences. When you’ve decided on your activities, write them on a schedule. Be mindful that some activities might be cheaper on different days or at different times (eg. off-peak bus fares and Tuesday movie discounts).
Get your chores done before your staycation begins. The last thing you need to be doing on your holiday is housework. And now for the hardest part… Stop answering work calls and emails. Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you should still be working. If you were hiking in Patagonia or sunning yourself on the beach in Mexico, your mobile phone would probably be turned off. Your staycation should be no different. You’re not at work, you’re on holiday!
Here are our top 10 staycationing ideas. Some of the ideas are free and all of them are dirt cheap when compared to the potential cost of an interstate or overseas holiday.
Active outings— Pack your lunch and immerse yourself in the great outdoors. Spend a few hours or a whole day cycling, hiking or picnicking.
Go somewhere new— Visit a place you’ve never been or a place of interest you haven’t seen in a long time. This could be a farmers’ market, art gallery, museum, theme park, playground, zoo. Ask your friends for their favourite spots or invest in a guide book for your city.
Read a lot— Collect a pile of books, magazines or newspapers and set aside time for reading. Just you, a book, and your drink of choice.
Home improvement— It’s a contradictory truism, but some people only feel relaxed when they’re busy. If you’re one of them, you might like to use your staycation to renovate your home—paint a room, stain the decking, build a pergola, plant a herb garden.
Make camp— Pitch a tent, unroll your sleeping bag, blow up an air mattress until you’re dizzy and make camp in your own backyard. This type of roughing it comes with the convenience of refrigerated foods, hot showers and clean toilets. We suggest you keep it safe and simple—children supervised by adults at all times and no fires.
Get crafty— A staycation is the time to catch up on all those hobbies that work gets in the way of. Whether your passion is painting or pottery, frogs or photography, cooking or cars, this is your chance to set aside time for your favourite diversions.
Lifelong learning— Is it time to learn a new language, brush up on your foxtrot or educate your senses? Use your staycation to attend a course or workshop. Check out your local WEA learning center.
Health retreat— Old habits are hard to break and time is hard to find these days, which is why staycationing is the perfect opportunity to establish new habits. Schedule time for the gym or your favourite health activities. Clear your kitchen cupboards of unhealthy temptations and treat yourself with nutritious home-cooked meals. If there are two of you, reward your good behaviour with a massage.
Fun and games— Board games are a great way to involve the whole family. Local libraries often lend board games like Pictionary, Scattegories and Monopoly.
Host a theme party— Okay, so you’re not going to Europe this year and you’re a long way from lying on the beach in Thailand, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t celebrate as if you were. Pick an appropriate theme and invite friends over to celebrate. Some ideas include the Monaco Grand Prix, Bastille Day, Melbourne Cup, and Chinese New Year.