Vacations are what most people spend their entire year looking forward to—and with good reason. They can be an opportunity to relax with loved ones while getting away from the daily tasks that have become your life. However, if finances are tight, hopping on a plane to an exotic hotspot can be pricey and not an option this year.
Luckily, the staycation has become an increasingly popular staple over the past few years for people who still want to take time off but plan to stay at home and save money at the same time. Here are some great ways to avoid work, enjoy yourself and save money all at the same time.
1. Test Out New Recipes
The workweek can leave you feeling exhausted and with no desire to cook once you get home. You may end up feeding your family with the easiest and most readily available meals out of sheer convenience and lack of time.
Now that you have more free time, you can branch out and try that delicious looking spinach-stuffed chicken breast recipe you’ve been eyeing on Pinterest! Pick an interesting dish that you’ve never had before (or even heard of!) and give it a taste test.
Get in the kitchen and challenge yourself with a meal that could ultimately end up becoming a favorite for you and your family. While you’re trying out different recipes, vibe out to music, take your time, and truly enjoy the scrumptious new dish that you’re whipping up.
Not only will you get the opportunity to get lost in a world of exotic and new cuisines, your family will thank you for not serving them mystery meatloaf for the second week in a row.
2. Movie Night Marathon
Going out to the movies has become an expensive outing for a family these days. If you don’t feel like spending more than $15 for a night of staring at a screen for two hours, opt for a free night in with Netflix.
Once you pay the monthly streaming fee (only $8 a month), then you and your family can watch any movie or show you want—and at any time. Catch up on House of Cards or take a walk down memory lane with a 90s teen drama.
Since you can stream Netflix on your TV, you and your family can hang out on the couch for hours and take in the entertainment without ever having to leave your living room.
3. Expand Your Restaurant Choices
Not looking forward to a night in the kitchen and bored of The Cheesecake Factory? Why not try out that restaurant down the street that you’ve passed before but never had the nerve or time to enter! People tend to experiment and venture out into the unfamiliar when they’re on vacation and this staycation should not be an exception.
Always wanted to try Thai? Then hit up the best Thai restaurant in the city and satisfy your curiosity and taste buds. Any restaurant will do—whether it’s Indian, Italian or even Chinese. As long as you’re stepping outside your safe taste zone and haven’t been spotted chowing down there within the past week. Who knows—you may end up falling in love with Thai food and become an expert on which curries and spices to try.
4. Get Thrifty!
There’s nothing like a bargain buy that makes you feel giddy inside. Many people love to spend their days on vacation shopping. Instead of hitting the mall, discover the local thrift stores nearby and go crazy on a budget!
You could end up finding a hidden gem of a store and walk away with a new winter coat, cute artwork for your place and some well needed kitchen appliances, all for way less than you would pay at a chain store.
5. Explore the Museum
Museums are still some of the most inexpensive options for entertainment today. Most museums are free and usually just ask for a suggested donation. If you run into one that does charge, typically the price won’t be more than $20.
Spend a day of your staycation wandering in a museum and leave the experience feeling inspired and rejuvenated. Not only will you have a different perspective on artwork and culture, you’ll end up with a day filled with cheap entertainment!
6. Local Minor League Games
We understand that hitting a major league sport event can put a huge dent in your pocket. Instead, take your days off to go see a minor league team refine their craft and skills.
We guarantee that these guys are just as interesting as the pros and you can avoid the obnoxiously loud drunks while paying for tickets that are a fraction of what the big leagues charge.
Though an NBA game can cost up to $100 for a single ticket, the NBA’s D-League may only charge $30 for a near courtside seat that offers an exciting and more financially responsible night out!
Mary Hiers is a personal finance writer who helps people earn more and spend less.