Summer is moving into the wind-down phase, and that means that many families are looking for one last summer fling. However, even though the recession is supposed to be over, it doesn’t seem as though many of us are ready to spend a great deal of money. The good news is that you don’t have to spend a lot on a vacation — as long as you make it a staycation.

What is a Staycation?

“Staycation” is the term used to denote a trip that keeps you a little closer to home. It indicates that, rather than going hundreds (or thousands) of miles away, you’re going to look for attractions nearby. Many people are surprised, once they consider their home area as a tourist, what is available in their own hometowns, as well as what is available in the town two or three hours away.

A staycation saves money due its nature:

  • Less money on gas, since you don’t drive as far.
  • Less money on hotels, since you don’t have to stay overnight (or only stay one or two nights).
  • No money on airfares.
  • Less money on eating out, since the shorter trip means that you have enough room to pack your own food.
  • Possibility of spending less money on attractions, since you can choose less expensive options.
  • Ability to plan for a weekend, so it limits the number of days you have to take off work. This can be especially helpful for those who work hourly, and may not be paid for days off.

You will find that a staycation can be just as fun as a regular vacation — and you might be able to take more mini-trips for less than you would spend on one big vacation blowout. Staycations can include exploring historic sites in your own hometown, or camping an hour or two away. You can also plan a visit to a national park that is reasonably close, or even go to the local amusement park.

Get online and visit your hometown’s visitor bureau web site to see what is available. You can also look at the visitor bureaus for neighboring towns and those in surrounding states. This can give you a good idea of what is available, and how much it is likely to cost. You can also look online for great hotel deals to save you on the one or two nights that you will be staying.

A staycation really can be a great way to spend time as a family while saving money, as long as you plan it right and look for frugal ways to have fun.