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Tips for a successful staycation

Claire is an aspiring nutritionist (and soon to be culinary student) with a serious addiction to bacon, wine, goat cheese and online shopping. She is recently married to a social media guru who loves *almost* everything she conjures up. ...

Save the miles and be a tourist at home

With gas at almost $4 a gallon, the cost of flights increasing and the economy still on shaky ground, vacations are the first thing cut from many families' budgets. However, just because you can't travel anywhere doesn't mean you still can't vacation. Take off some of those hard-earned vacation days, grab your family and be a tourist in your own town, for once. By following these easy tips, you can have the staycation of a lifetime!

Father and son camping outside home

Although it's no trip to France or the Caribbean, a staycation is a great way to explore your city, find new, exciting activities and restaurants, and gain a whole new perspective on the place you call home. Follow these smart staycation tips and quickly fall in love with your city or town all over again.

binocularsBe a tourist

For your vacation to really feel like a vacation, you need to approach it like you're going someplace you've never been. And even if you've lived in your city your entire life, there's a good chance there are places, eateries and little gems you've never been to. How do you find these places? Visit your tourist center. If you don't have one, check your city or town's website, visit city hall or check local calendars at churches and supermarkets.

Plan your budget

Just because you aren't traveling anywhere doesn't mean you still can't spend a fortune. Take a realistic look at your budget and plan exactly how much you can spend on dining, activities, tours and the like. As with any vacation, the more you save beforehand, the more you have to spend on fun activities, souvenirs and food. The last thing you want to do is overspend and be stuck at home for the next few weeks. A great way to find budget-friendly deals on activities and meals is to check out Living Social or Groupon in your area. They feature amazing deals on restaurants, museums, guided tours and boat cruises that are up to half off the original price. These are great, affordable ways to explore and eat in your city.

Invite others to join

A vacation is even better when it's with your closest friends, neighbors and family members. Not only will this be a great chance to get to know your friends or family better, but it also makes your night, day or weekend out more like a vacation. If your budget allows, hire a babysitter and spend the night or weekend at a nearby winery, beach or city with friends. Even though you will still be close by, home will feel like a light-year away, since you'll be away from the kids and hectic stresses of everyday life.

Forget the chores and housework

This may sound counterproductive, but think about it -- would you make the bed, clean the kitchen or do laundry if you were at a hotel or a bed and breakfast? Absolutely not! Treat your weekend or few days off as you would any vacation. Grab your meals on the road or enjoy a picnic in the park, spend time playing with your family outside or going on long walks, and leave the housework and chores for when you "get back." If you can't stand the sight of a messy bed, go camping in your backyard with sleeping bags, tents and flashlights. Then all you have to do is pack it up when it's time to get back to reality. Not only will this give you uninterrupted time to relax with your family, it'll really make the time off feel like a vacation.

Who said you can't have fun in your own backyard? Go out and explore the city you call home and have a fabulous staycation this year!

More family vacation ideas

Volunteer vacations for families in the U.S.
How to have a family staycation
9 tips for a budget-friendly vacation

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