Frugality Wise

Tips, ideas, and resources for living frugally

The Warm Weather Staycation – Frugal Activities to Have Fun and Keep You Entertained

on May 6, 2014

beach - Sura Nualpradid If you’re like me, then you plan all of the vacation days that you will be taking off from work for the calendar year as soon as the New Year begins! Nothing beats the feeling you get when you know you have vacation time scheduled from work that’s coming up very soon. Like a kid during the last week of school before the summer break, you impatiently start getting into “countdown mode”. However, as exciting as it is to have a break in your regular work routine, vacations can really drain your wallet. From airfare, to hotels, to rental cars, vacations can become very expensive. Enter the staycation! A staycation is a vacation you take locally without going abroad. So this can mean you stay within your country, province/state, or city. The most frugal staycations, like the ones that I usually take, are those taken within your city, that way your own home is your accommodations, rather than a hotel. There are many frugal activities you can do while on a staycation in your city. If you have a week off from work, here are a few recommendations of activities to enjoy.

Take in a street festival.

In the summer, particularly in large metropolitan areas, there are always a plethora of street festivals. There’s a street festival that appeals to various interests, from food, to arts and culture, to family and kids-oriented. Money-saving tip: Set a budget of how much you want to spend at an outdoor festival. There will be many vendors to choose from. Take a look at all vendors and what they’re offering first, rather than spend money at the first vendor you come across. Vendors selling similar items might have different prices, so take the time to browse for the lowest price.

Go to the Beach.

Pack up your swim wear, sunglasses, sunscreen, and reading material and hit up your local beach. It may not be the beaches of the Caribbean with their unparalleled beauty (unless you actually live in the Caribbean right now, in which case, lucky you!), but there are many great local beaches where you can spend an afternoon playing beach volleyball, or just lounging on your beach towel and living a life of leisure for a few hours. Money-saving tip: Bring your own food to the beach in a cooler, rather than buy food at a nearby food cart.

Have a picnic in the park.

When the weather is nice and warm, one of the most fuss-free ways to enjoy it is to go on a picnic with a friend or family. Pack food in containers, bring a cooler of beverages, and go to a park that has picnic tables; or bring a large blanket with you to sit on the grass. Money-saving tip: Bring reusable plates and cutlery, as needed, rather than disposable plates. Tossing away disposables is like tossing away your change.

Play board games.

Most people enjoy board games, myself included. Scrabble, Clue, Monopoly, Life…I own them all! Playing board games is a good way to keep entertained (regardless of the time of year) for an hour or two, depending on the number of players. If you care to make it even more interesting, you can add a friendly wager to the outcome of the game, such as the winner gets a nice cooked meal, or a relaxing foot massage! Money-saving tip: Avoid wagering actual money! Who wants to be the one that has to pay up in cash after a loss?

Watch a movie at your local theatre.

With the warm weather seasons come the onslaught of blockbuster movies that get released, many of them being sequels in established movie franchises. Go with someone or go by yourself, it doesn’t matter (there’s no major difference between going by yourself vs. going with someone since it’s bad etiquette to carry on a conversation in the movie theatre anyway). Money-saving tip: Go to the theatre during the weekly matinée time (commonly on a Tuesday, but check your local theatre’s website to confirm) when ticket prices are reduced.

Visit a museum.

If you love art, culture, and the pursuit of knowledge, then your staycation is the perfect time to visit the latest exhibit at your local museum, and get out of the heat for a couple of hours. Museums are both adult- and kid-friendly alike. If you have kids, it’s a great way to keep little minds stimulated and engaged, especially during the summer months when kids are out of school. Many museums have special programs and special admission rates for kids too. Money-saving tip: Take advantage of special general admission rates that a museum might offer during certain days of the week and/or certain times of the day (e.g. late-afternoon or evening until closing time).

Go to an amusement park.

My very first job as a teenager was working at Canada’s Wonderland, a large amusement park located in Vaughn, a suburb directly north of Toronto. I could go on all of the rides for free as an employee, so one day after a shift a co-worker and I went on rollercoaster after rollercoaster.  Fast forward fifteen years to today and I haven’t been on another rollercoaster since then because I’ve had my fill to last a lifetime! However, if you can’t get enough of the thrill of gravity defying rides, plan a day of amusement park fun with family or friends. Money-saving tip: If you and your family or friends practically live at the amusement park during those warm summer months, it would be well advised to purchase a season pass, if available. A season pass can offer many perks like unlimited visits, food and merchandise discounts, family/friend discounts, and free parking, depending on the terms and conditions of the pass.

Stay at a friend’s home for a day or two.

If your scheduled time off work co-ordinates with the schedule of a good friend, your staycation is the perfect time to catch up with them. If your friend is a great host or hostess, then being away from your own home will make you feel like you’re staying at a Bed and Breakfast, minus having to pay money for the accommodations. Money-saving tip: With a good friend, you can keep yourselves entertained indoors rather than going out and paying money to do shared activities. You can watch Netflix, have do-it-yourself spa treatments, cook a meal together, play video games, go for a dip in their pool (if they have one), etc. There are a variety of common-interest activities you can enjoy.

Do stay-at-home outdoor dining.

In the day, fire up the barbecue and grill up some meat and vegetables and eat buffet-style on the patio. Or in the evening, cook a special meal and create a cozy atmosphere in your backyard with some tea lights. Nothing’s more relaxing than dining by candlelight. Play some mellow music to add to the ambiance. Money-saving tip: When barbecuing meat, opt for inexpensive (yet still good quality) cuts of meat. Meat with bones in it, like bone-in chicken breast, is cheaper than the boneless variety. Bones also help prevent meat from drying out when you grill them.

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