6 frugal ways to spice up a staycation

If a staycation is on your travel agenda this season, don’t just settle for a day at the museum or dinner at a popular restaurant. You’ll never break out of your routine unless you really commit to it. Even in the planning stages, start thinking like a tourist. Break out some maps, download a visitors guide from the local visitors bureau website and make a list of nearby places and events you’d like to see sometime. All you need is some creativity and a willingness to try new things — just as you would on a vacation far away. Here’s how to spice up a staycation and take full advantage of your time “away.”

[See: 12 Frugal Ways to Save on Vacation.]

Don’t follow your usual to-do list. While it’s tempting to continue taking care of household chores, running errands and keeping with your morning fitness routine, make your staycation feel like a real break by escaping from all that. Treat your home as a hotel with limited or no access to work communication and the other stuff you need to do every day. Enjoy your home and your neighborhood, take in the view and act like a guest for a few days. You can catch up on your honey-do list and your work email later.

Hire a local guide. No matter how long you’ve lived in your town or city, there’s a good chance you haven’t seen all the unique attractions and historic landmarks in the area — or even in your neighborhood. Be a tourist for a day and hire a local guide to take you on a tour through some of your area’s unique sites. You could also try a themed tour, such as a foodie tour or haunted house tour, to learn more about your region in-depth and from a fresh perspective. Websites such as Vayable (think Uber for tour guides) can connect you with local guides who can give you the insider take on your own neighborhood or town.

[See: 12 Ways to Be a More Mindful Spender.]

Organize a photography tour. Seeing your town or city through the eye of the camera lens can be a refreshing experience in itself. These days it’s easy to create a travel documentary or travelogue with a smartphone or digital camera. Map out a tour of key sites and landmarks beforehand and spend a day or two capturing them on digital film. When you’re done, gather them into a photobook or slideshow — there are lots of apps and websites available to help you sort, organize and present your collection.

Spend some time in nature. Even when you’re trying to relax and enjoy local activities, it can be hard to mentally break away. Plan on spending at least half a day at a state park, forest, beach other natural area nearby, just as you would on vacation. Keep things simple and unplug completely if you can — avoid email and texts during your retreat into nature. If you’re really curious about where you live, find a field guide to the plant and animal life in your area and learn how to identify the examples you find. This mini-adventure can refresh your spirit and teach you more about your local region.

Visit local farmers. You might go to the farmers market every week, but how much do you really know about where and how your favorite foods are grown or raised? Take a tour of local farms or ask for a guided tour of a nearby cooperative to learn more about your local food providers. This can be a fun and educational outing for children, too, and makes for a memorable vacation activity. Be sure to pick up a few goodies when you’re there. When you return to your home away from home, try cooking up some dishes you’ve never tried before with your haul.

[See: 10 Fun, Frugal Ways to Spend Your Free Time.]

Seek out new experiences at local festivals and events. You don’t have to spend a lot to enjoy new adventures and experiences. Check your local chamber of commerce and visitors bureau websites for information about local festivals and events. Seasonal events such as stargazing opportunities at the observatory or summer concerts by the lake can add some flavor to your itinerary and give you a chance to experience something new. Other options might include state fairs, camping events and food festivals. Seek out activities and experiences you wouldn’t usually try at home. After all, you’re on vacation.

Finally, don’t forget to send postcards. Your friends and family would love to hear about your adventures during your time away.

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6 Frugal Ways to Spice Up a Staycation originally appeared on usnews.com

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