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5 Benefits of a Staycation

mom and kids in hammock

Planning a vacation this season, or is it just too hard on the budget? We hear ya. Our friends at NerdWallet are here to convince us that Staycations can actually be better! Take a look…

5 Benefits of a Staycation

So you have some vacation days to use, or maybe you just feel like taking some time to relax without worrying about housework and life’s everyday stresses. The problem is that a vacation is just so expensive. According to a 2013 survey by American Express on summer vacation travel, the average vacation costs $1,145 per person in the United States. That, combined with the stress of actually traveling, might not seem worth it.

Fortunately, you can opt for a more affordable alternative: a staycation. Staycations are short periods of leisure time spent exploring your local area. That doesn’t necessarily mean spending quality time with your couch, though that certainly is an option. In fact, you can take advantage of many of the same entertaining or relaxing activities you would on a vacation. Here’s how:

Airfare and gas are expensive.

The average domestic flight costs about $390 per person, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation (international flights typically are higher). And when you add kids to the mix, those figures just keep multiplying. A road trip to a far-off location can be significantly cheaper, but it’ll still cost you. However, your car is a convenient tool for exploring your town and surrounding areas, and the cost of gas is minimal for short trips, such as those to a nearby national park or beach.

If your city has a good public transportation system, there’s an economical way to get around to local restaurants and points of interest. Plus, public transport could end up being its own adventure, if that’s not something you use regularly. Some of your destinations may even be within walking or biking distance; the movie theater down the street might be good for a mental getaway. And the walk or bike ride itself could be the activity. Check the Reno or Sparks website for hiking and biking trails in your area.

You already pay rent/mortgage; why pay to sleep in a strange bed?

Housing costs are nothing to sneeze at: The average monthly rent payment in the United States is $821, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. When you take a vacation, you keep paying rent, and you add the cost of a hotel—which averages $131 per night, according to hotels.com. When you take a staycation, there doesn’t have to be any added cost for lodging. After a long day of exploring, your home might be the perfect place to lay your head because, let’s be honest, there’s no bed like your own bed.

You don’t have to stay at home on a staycation, though. Without the cost of travel, you may find the cost of a cute little bed and breakfast well worth it. You might also take the opportunity to visit that friend or family member who lives just a few hours’ drive from you and has a guest room. Visiting with old friends or family is also an excellent staycation activity.

Pets and kids can’t take care of themselves.

If you have little ones of the furry and/or sticky-fingers variety, you have to consider the costs of caring for them while you’re away. If you’re taking your kids along, see associated costs in tip #1. Of course, you may choose a child-free staycation, in which case you could be paying around $10 an hour per child for babysitting while you’re away.

Pet boarding can cost anywhere from $35 to $90 per pet per night, which adds up quickly over multiple nights or with multiple pets. You can reduce costs by paying for a few dog-walker visits, shortening your staycation or choosing a free Fido-friendly staycation activity (hiking, anyone?).

Restaurant bills might make you lose your appetite.

When traveling, you’ll likely eat most meals at a restaurant. Many travelers can take advantage of a continental breakfast at their hotels. However, depending on the number of people in your party and how expensive your tastes are, lunch and dinner checks can sure add up. Choosing to eat meals at home during your staycation will keep the food bill to a minimum.

But part of the lure of a staycation might very well be the chance to get out of the kitchen. And since you’re saving so much on travel and boarding costs, go for it! A staycation is a great opportunity to visit some of the local restaurants you’ve wanted to try. After all, you can still save money on food if you eat some of your meals at home or leave the kids behind while you have a nice meal out alone or with your significant other. Also, if your staycation involves adventures in nature such as hiking or going to the beach, a picnic is not only a perfect complement, but also a money-saver.

It benefits the local economy.

When you spend your money locally, it boosts job growth and wages within your community. Sure, you won’t see immediate savings with this one, but it has long-term benefits. Said wages may eventually find their way into your wallet.

Taking time off at home can be way more relaxing than an actual vacation, and it is certainly easier on the bank account. Besides, it gives you a chance to explore the gems of your local scene. Or not. Your couch is a perfectly acceptable destination for your staycation, too.

Damaris Olaechea, NerdWallet

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