Tips to Make a Staycation FEEL like a Vacation

Tips for a fun frugal family staycation

With a new baby this year and a focus on saving our pennies so we can purchase a larger home, our family budget just doesn’t have space for traditional Spring Break or Summer vacations. But, that doesn’t mean we’ll spend our vacation days on house projects. Oh no!

I have a plan to create a frugal Rhode Island family staycation!

What do you need to make it FEEL like a vacation?


My children know that a vacation means:

  • eating at restaurants everyday,
  • visiting tourist sites,
  • swimming in the hotel pool,
  • and at least one “Lazy Day” spent in pjs, watching TV/video marathons, and eating junk food.

What does your family need to make it feel like a vacation? Lots of site seeing activities? An amusement park? Eating out everyday? Or a “lazy day” spent in pjs watching a Star Wars marathon? Knowing what your family wants goes a long way toward creating a perfect vacation at home.

How do you make a staycation FEEL like a vacation?


Now is the time to think outside the box. Spending money for that vacation feeling is easy, but with a little frugal creativity we can generate those same emotions. Here are some tips I’m using to create a frugal staycation:


frugal tips to eat out with kids

Eating Out Frugally

  • Make a list of the places or type of food your family wants to eat. Ask family members if  it HAS to be On the Border or will another Mexican restaurant work just as well.
  • Then google that restaurant (or style of food) for discounts or coupons.
  • Most chain restaurants offer an email club. Even family owned restaurants have websites or Facebook pages today. Subscribe and watch for coupons or discounts.
  • Are your children 12 years old or younger? Call the restaurant you want to eat at and ask if they have a Kids Eat Free night each week.

Site Seeing in Your Own Neighborhood

  • Check this list of staycations in 60+ cities and regions for a destination near you. Each list was created by women who know the best spots to visit!
  • Google “Visit Rhode Island” or “Visit Providence” (obviously you want to substitute your state/city for mine) and poke around the tourist website for your area.
  • Make a list of places your family would enjoy. Visit their websites and Facebook pages looking for discounts, coupons, or special spring break or summer holidays events.
  • Consider small, off-the-beaten-path places as they are usually cheaper than the popular sites. For example, in Providence you can visit the Roger Williams Park Zoo for $15 per adult. OR in the same park you can visit the Natural History Museum and Planetarium for $5 per adult. That’s a big savings but an equally memorable activity.
  • Don’t forget state and city parks for hiking, picnics, or throwing a frisbee around!

site seeing in your own backyard

Got a pool?

Many of us in New England do not have pools, indoor OR outdoor. So this wish list item can take a bit of ingenuity.

  • Ask a neighbor or friend if you can use their pool during the week. Offering to help purchase chemicals or clean the pool might be a good idea!
  • Call around to local community pools, the YMCA, or health clubs and ask for per day rates during your vacation week.
  • Call around to local hotels with pools and ask if you could pay a per diem rate to use their pool.
  • OR you could research hotel discounts and spend only 1 night at a local hotel. Check in during the early afternoon and check out late morning the next day. That’s hours and hours to spend in the pool!
  • My favorite way to use a pool is to invite out-of-state relatives to visit and recommend a nearby hotel with an indoor pool. Be sure to tell them how much your kids would enjoy visiting their hotel pool!

Time for a Lazy Day!

Last but certainly not least, plan your very own lazy day at home. Select a movie marathon as a family (Anne of Green Gables, classic Disney movies, or Chronicles of Narnia come to mind). Stock up on your family’s favorite junk food. Then pick a day to stay in your pajamas and veg in front of the TV. I don’t recommend a whole week of this, but one day can be a lot of fun!

With a little ingenuity and planning a spring break or summer staycation can be just as fun as a road trip – without all the hassle of packing!


What are some of your favorite tips and tricks for making a staycation feel like a regular vacation?



Linked to:

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  1. Awesome tips and I will need them this summer (heck, even great for weekends)

    • Stephanie Kay
      Twitter: stephmommybrain

      I definitely need to call around to restaurants and compile a list of Kid’s Eat Free nights in my area. Another thing I do is receive groupon, living social, and a couple of other deal site newsletters for discounted tickets and memberships for tourist sites. I scored an Audubon membership for half price last week. Then Biomes had half priced tickets just this week.

  2. Courtney Buteau
    Twitter: CourtneyCal

    These are great tips and I love the idea of a staycation. Sometimes it’s best to not pack up and fly…it can be high stress with a lot of kids!. :)

    • Stephanie Kay
      Twitter: stephmommybrain

      I’d rather take a 10 hour road trip with 4 children than fly!! We can make road trips fun. Plane travel with children is more challenging – especially with the dirty looks of fellow passengers.

  3. jackiehennesse1
    Twitter: jackiehennesse1

    I am sharing these great tips on my Facebook page! Thanks so much for the fun, creative ideas.

  4. Leah DeCesare
    Twitter: leahdecesare

    Great tips – it’s smart to think first of what you’re looking for and work backwards!
    For frugal getaways – we like to camp. When the kids were little, we’d literally go only about 20 minutes away but it felt like we were REALLY AWAY! They loved it! Now we venture further but the experience of camping out is something we all love doing – grab another family and it’s even more fun! Hiking, cooking on the fire, swimming in the river, lake, pond, guitars and singing around the campfire at night! It’s technology free and we find it relaxing (though we do bring an air mattress for the grown ups!) :-)

    • Stephanie Kay
      Twitter: stephmommybrain

      So far our camping has been limited to an annual backyard camp out. But, my oldest boys are Cub Scouts so I know we’ll venture out eventually. Where are your favorite RI places to camp?

      • Leah DeCesare
        Twitter: leahdecesare

        We’ve been here for seven years but are just recently getting back into camping – and now that the kids are older, we have ventured further, to NH! We’re planning another trip to NH again this summer.

      • Stephanie Kay
        Twitter: stephmommybrain

        We vacationed in NH when I was pregnant with my #4. We rented a cabin and hiked to waterfalls. Wonderful trip! I’d like to go back now that I have big kids.

  5. We are planning a “staycation” later this year also…looking forward to incorporating some of these ideas! :)

  6. We do theme weekends. My husband and I started it before we had kids. We let a kid pick the theme and we come up with ideas for the activities.

  7. Great tips! The Entertainment Book is also helpful with Staycations! And it’s always on sale on line. Plus check with the local Library for day passes for other places in the area! Ask your friends if they have family memberships to the zoo or aquarium and see if you can tag along as their guest and pack them a lunch or snacks in exchange. They’ve already paid for it!

    • Stephanie Kay
      Twitter: stephmommybrain

      LOVE the library for discounts and free passes! I always forget about the Entertainment Book. Thanks for sharing more frugal ideas!

  8. This post will be featured. :-) Thanks for sharing at Family Fun Friday!
    hope to see you again later this week at:

  9. Misty Kearns
    Twitter: ceoofmeinc

    Great tips! Thanks for linking up at Motivating Monday at CEO of Me this week!


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