Save Big on Your Summer Vacation

Summer is officially here, and for many of us our thoughts are turning to the annual summer vacation.  In years passed, Americans saddled up for cross country trips, overdue visits with loved ones, or even exotic getaways, but the economy has caused many to dash this year’s grand travel plans.  That’s not to say that Americans won’t be vacationing, we’re just taking a different approach.  According to a recent Choice Hotels International survey, 67% of Americans plan to take a vacation this summer.  Of those, 25% plan to vacation close to home, while 19% plan to take a staycation.  If you’re unfamiliar with the term, a staycation is a vacation that is spent at home, enjoying all the amenities of your local area.

Let’s face it, although we may work close to home, have we ever taken full advantage of everything our community has to offer?  For instance, I live and work in Western Massachusetts, surrounded by a rich Arts culture and beautiful mountains.  Like most of you, I work for a living and at the end of the day the last thing I can envision myself doing is scaling Mount Holyoke.  However, on this year’s staycation, I plan to do just that.   I also plan to canoe, camp, and hike many of the local trails, all of which I can do without spending a lot on gas, accommodations, or plane tickets.

You just might be surprised at what’s right outside your front door. Chances are you’re only a few minutes away from some interesting events and attractions in your own state.  It sometimes takes a little digging around on the internet, but planning your staycation is probably one of the easiest and creative things you can do.  Basically, the sky is the limit as to how you’ll spend your time.  Some people opt for day-trips to historical sites, an amusement park, or fun outdoor events.  Where can you go?  Well, do you have any aquariums, museums, or state parks close by? Are there any local festivals happening throughout the summer? When was the last time you had a family reunion?  The point is you don’t have to cancel your summer vacation plans entirely if money is an issue. You could have all the fun in the world right in your own backyard.  If you’re truly ambitious, you can use your staycation to take care of your to-do list. We all have projects around the house that we’d like to complete, but we always seem to keep putting them off.   Your summer staycation could be a great time to scratch a few of these items off your list.

For some of you, getting away is something you’re looking forward to, so a full-blown staycation may not really be the best plan.  The good news is that there are cost effective ways to have the best of both worlds. Many hotels offer economical rates for the frugal-minded.  For instance, Sunday nights are usually the lowest occupancy night of the week for most hotels, so you may be able to get a lower rate for a late weekend getaway.  You can even get a good rate if you plan a last-minute trip. Some hotels offer last-minute weekend specials at rates that are much lower than if you booked a stay in advance.  If you are a planner, not to worry, you can visit many of the travel sites on-line, like Kayak.com, where you can compare hotel costs and find something in your price range.

If you’re planning a staycation, Elisabeth Leamy of ABC News has some good advice. First, schedule start and end dates, just as you would with a vacation.  Next, pack that time with activities that get you out of the house and having fun.  Also, declare a “choratorium,” as Ms. Leamy puts it. This means that for your staycation, take a break from the everyday chores – that is, unless you plan home improvements for your staycation. Pay bills, get caught up on any pending tasks and fill the refrigerator so you can enjoy your time.   Finally, it’s your vacation, so treat it like one.  Take videos, pictures, or anything else that will help you hang on to the memories of the best staycation you ever took.

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