If you’re like most families, you’re feeling the pinch of your wallet at this time of year! With spring in full swing and summer just around the corner, it doesn’t mean your pocketbook is ready for an all-inclusive vacation somewhere sunny. More and more families are turning to “staycation” vacations in their own backyards and rediscovering gems and attractions locally. You save major dollars by sleeping in your own beds, and participating in activities that are within driving distance of your home.

Planning Your Staycation

Half of the fun is planning your staycation is counting down the days, and planning it together as a family. Make a countdown calendar – a simple calendar crossing off days will do, or a paper chain with loops for each day until the staycation is awesome too! Decide how many days your staycation will consist of, and agree that the regular chores can wait (no laundry!)

The Major Attraction

Each staycation week needs to include a major outing to end off or start the week. Consider attractions locally that would be appropriate for your crew – if you need a little inspiration, hit up your local tourist information office for pamphlets on attractions, museums, outdoor spaces that you may not know of.

This attraction will be the splurge of the week. Even so, consider if you can use your loyalty points, or coupons to get you into the attraction. I have a lot of luck in googling the attraction’s name along with “coupons” to see what comes up.

Things You Can Do At Home

Ask your kids for suggestions. Here’s a few ideas to get the gears turning:

Game Day: Blow the dust off the old board games (or go grab some from the thrift store). Cards, video games, Minute to Win It, or Minecraft all can count on Game Day. Designate a time for each of the categories of games you want to paly. Players go head to head to win a ridiculous trophy and bragging rights. The food is simple finger foods you can eat one-handed like nachos, veggies and dip, and cookies to snack on.

Camp Out in the Living Room: Set up your tents in the living room and go camping. No electronic devices allowed! Do some tin foil meals on the grill, cook hot dogs over your fireplace or campfire pit, or make a S’more bar. Tell ghost stories, play flashlight tag, or go on a flashlight walk around your neighbourhood after dark.

Movie Marathon: Been dying to make your kids watch all the 80s & 90s classics? Time to break them out. How about the Goonies, Forrest Gump, Toy Story, Jurassic Park, or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? Find those classics or new movies at your local library, or through iTunes. Let your kids each pick a movie too. Pop popcorn, milk duds and other movie snack favourites. Don’t forget the bubbly – juice mixed with club soda or sprite for that real Hollywood taste.

Get Adventurous: Pull those bikes out of the shed, grab the dog and explore a new trail. Take your smartphone and try geocaching. Rent a boat, Segway or bicycle built for two. Explore a new playground, or playground hop between the neighbourhood ones.

Head to Your Local Library: The library holds a special spot in my heart. It has awesome activities during breaks for free or cheap, amazing DVDs, books and more to rent and keep you busy. Curl up with your new favourite books, by making an amazing fort in the living room with blankets, pillows and more.

Do-It-Yourself Day: Grab your computer and have each family member pick 2 items from Pinterest to get crafty with. Head to your local craft or building supply centre to get all the required pieces. Each family members has to help with each of the projects. Too complex? Grab a couple craft kits from your local book store or craft store for easy DIYing.

Chef for a Day: Pick out the menu of the day and get adventurous in the kitchen. Scour your local farmer’s market, grocery store for steals and ingredients and prepare a gourmet feast. For a splurge, hire a personal chef for a day, or visit the swankiest restaurant in town you’ve always wanted to try. Don’t forget dessert from a charming little bakery or cafe!

What other ideas have you tried on a staycation? What was your favourite?

Holly LaRochelle picHolly LaRochelle is always on the lookout for simple craft projects to keep her kids, ages 2 and 4, occupied. Visit her blog, The Inspired Home, to be inspired to do-it-yourself, get outdoors and add simple homemade recipes that make family life fun and fresh.