Today we welcome back our usual Thursday contributor – Laurie from the Frugal Farmer!
Happy Thursday! Many of you might have read about our journey to dump a boatload of debt. Despite some hurdles, things are moving along and we’re doing a fairly good job of budgeting and spend-tracking as we look for more money to put toward our debt. Things are tight, however, so when the subject of a summer vacation came up, we weren’t quite sure what to do. We haven’t taken a real summer vacation in quite some time, so the thought of a “real vacation” where we actually leave our home and stay somewhere else sounded quite fun. That being said, let’s face it; we’re kind of broke right now, so, is a stay-away vacation really a wise idea on a tight budget?
Enter: the Staycation. You’ve all likely heard about a staycation, where you stay at home for your vacation and do fun things in your mostly local area. John recently had a great post entitled “Staycation Ideas That Don’t Suck” that has all sorts of good ideas for cheap entertainment ideas near your home. However, we didn’t really want to have my husband’s week off of work be packed with all sorts of activities, even if they were super fun. So here’s what we decided: We’d take our budgeted staycation amount, and spend it as we saw fit over the 3 month summer break. The rules of our 3 month long staycation?
1. We had to Spend the Money on Something we Normally wouldn’t do
No trips to McDonalds or bowling with our staycation funds. The money had to be spent on things we normally don’t spend money on now with our super-strict budget. For instance, last month, we drove up to a cute little tourist town about 20 minutes or so north of here, to go hiking at a state park near there. The little town was SO cute, and boasted, among other things, an old-fashioned drive-in restaurant that also had a mini-golf course behind it. The kids have never mini-golfed before (I know: SHAME!) so Rick and I made a plan to go back up there for one of our staycation adventures and play mini-golf and eat at the drive-in restaurant.
2. We had to stay within the Allotted Budget and Plan we Decided on
One of our plans for the staycation was a drive down a local highway sprinkled with cute little towns and attractions. We mapped out beforehand where we were going to stop, and what we were going to do at each destination. The promise we made ourselves before we left, though, was that we were not going to get off track budget-wise, even if we saw something super fun and cool. If we could take money from another staycation activity we had planned, great. If not, we’d just enjoy what we had in front of us.
3. We had to Make the Money last throughout the Summer Vacation
No blowing it all in one day on a spontaneous trip to an amusement park. Instead, we were going to do our research and find several activities, some for each month, that would bring enjoyment to the family while still staying within our allotted budget.
The great thing about planning a summer vacation this way, at least for us, is that the fun is lasting all summer long. The kids have gotten to do things that are new and exciting, we’ve enjoyed our extra time together as a family, and we haven’t spent $2,000 on a vacation that we just can’t afford right now. Sounds like a win-win to me.
What do you think of a three-month staycation that stretches all summer long? What did you do for fun this summer that didn’t cost an arm and leg?
Photo courtesy of: Flaxe