Staycations—or vacations where you stay home—are perhaps the most budget-friendly vacation idea of all.

You can rediscover your town or city without the distraction of everyday routine. And you skip the stress and expense of traveling.

But let’s be honest: Part of the fun of vacations is the novelty of a new place. How can you bring that sense of excitement and adventure to a summer staycation?

Think of the places you’d take an out-of-town visitor. Museums, sightseeing spots, local landmarks, conservatories, botanical gardens, old theaters…places you’ve been meaning to check out (since you’re so close!) but somehow never have. Now’s the time. Research your town as if you’re a first-time guest, and find out what the “must-see” spots are.

Take advantage of any deals offered during the off-hours. Some museums and movie theaters offer free or discounted rates if you visit on a certain weekday, since they tend to be less crowded than weekends.

Plan to spend time where you feel most comfortable. You might designate a reading nook if you want to catch up on reading, or a corner of the kitchen if you plan to try new recipes. If you have access to a porch, backyard, or outdoor space, try some planting or landscaping.

You don’t need lots of physical space, decorating skills, or cash. A slight adjustment (like a tapestry, new lightbulbs, or a couple of plants) can make your daily, busy living space look more like a relaxing vacation spot.

Think about minimizing distractions, especially if you’re in a shared living space. Noise-canceling headphones or curtains can offer the privacy you need to power down and relax.

There are plenty of low-cost inspirations to choose from if you enjoy DIY decorating projects and want to get creative with your design.

Minimize chores

You may not be able to eliminate cooking, cleaning, and grocery shopping during your staycation time. But save any time-consuming chores—like getting your car’s oil changed or doing laundry—for another weekend if possible.

Make a schedule

One of the great things about a staycation is eliminating travel hassles. You don’t have to deal with jet lag or create a packed agenda for an unfamiliar city. You can simply unwind.

But without other plans, it can be tempting to stay in bed all day with takeout and your video streaming service of choice—especially if the weather is uncooperative.

So plan ahead. Before your staycation starts, decide what you’ll do on which day and at what time. Make sure any attractions you’re visiting are open when you want to go. It’s also helpful to plan how much you’re going to spend.

But don’t be afraid to carve out time for a long walk, a long nap, or an at-home movie. Vacation’s all about pacing yourself.

To get in vacation mode, it helps to go way outside your regular routine. Go to the rock-climbing gym. See the local improv troupe. Visit the aquarium. Check out the new arcade, spa, or themed restaurant that just opened. Tour a historical home. Explore a neighborhood or public park you’ve never been to.

Whatever you do, make sure it’s something you wouldn’t have the time for normally (or can’t afford on a regular basis), but you’d be up for trying once.

Research of human behavior has shown investing in experiences provides more long-term happiness than investing in items. Accumulate some memories during your staycation!

Eat for pleasure

You probably have a local restaurant or two you’d like to check out. A staycation is a great time to visit a spot too out-of-the-way to fit into your regular routine. If the restaurant’s on the pricier side, try going for lunch, which is often less expensive than dinner.

Enjoy cooking at home? Plan some of your favorite recipes or experiment with new ones.

Get outside

Walk, run, bike, rollerblade…enjoy the time and space. Find out what jogging trails are near you. Hit the tennis courts at a public park with a partner. If you have a gym membership, see what amenities are available to members that you may never have used—such as a pool or a racquetball court.

Geocaching is a cool way to discover new things in a familiar neighborhood. Described as a real-world outdoor treasure hunt, geocaching is free to sign up with a basic account.

Unplug

How much you unplug is up to you. Maybe you’d love a break from e-mail and Facebook; maybe the thought of going three or four days without checking e-mail makes you panic. Limiting your internet communication can be a great way to take a time-out from the rhythm of daily life.

If you have a work-related e-mail address, set an out-of-office message and stick to it. Decide beforehand how often you’ll check in. Then let yourself take a well-deserved break.

You can block social media apps (and other apps) temporarily on your phone, if the notifications are a stressor for you.

Hang out with friends

As we get older and take on more responsibilities, keeping in touch with friends takes more effort, even if they’re your next-door neighbors.

Let local friends know you’re available to grab a meal or a drink. This may take some planning, since your vacations aren’t likely to be synchronized. If you like hosting guests, invite some friends over for a get-together.

Just like experiences can be more rewarding than objects, people tend to value having good times with each other more than going places together. Of course, it’s great to do both. But a staycation can be just as fun and rejuvenating as a trip—minus the long plane ride.

Summary

Staycations are a great way to unwind without the hassle and expense of travel. With a little planning you could spend time finally getting to know the city you live in.

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