While your big travel plans might be focused around visiting family for the holidays, one of the best ways to enjoy family fun without a lot of planning, and without busting your budget, is to take a “staycation.”

You don’t have to go very far to make memories—a staycation can be enjoyed in your own hometown—or in the next town over.

Here are some staycation ideas that don’t require a lot of planning:


Whether you head to the woods or set up a tent in the backyard, camping can be a great way to make memories. For those (like me) who have all the gear, it’s easy to throw everything in the back of the car and drive an hour to a favorite camping spot.

However, you can also make a fun family memory by camping at home. Set up your tent, pull out the grill, and have a camp-like experience. If you don’t have a tent, you can make a blanket tent in the family room, tell ghost stories, and enjoy microwave s’mores.

Local history tour

Take a tour of local history sites. Your town’s tourism bureau, historical society, or chamber of commerce should have some ideas of where to go and what to see. Most sites are free, and you can visit two or three sites in one day. Bring along a picnic lunch to enjoy en route, and end the day with a stop at a local ice cream shop.

Hotel in the next town over

Stay overnight in the next town over. Choose a hotel with a pool, and enjoy some fun in the water. Save money by bringing your own food, or eat at an inexpensive local restaurant. Check out one or two of the attractions in that town. You’ll learn something new and enjoy the feeling of getting away from home.


Chances are, there are several geocaching sites around your town. If you have a GPS, go online to plot your real-world treasure hunt. You can take a day, or spend two or three days searching out interesting locations. We like to combine camping with geocaching for a really fun experience.

State parks

Do you live near a state park? State parks can combine water activities, hiking trails, camping, and other outdoor activities. Find out what is available nearby, and make a day trip (or a camping trip) of it. Bring your own food, or plan to stop somewhere inexpensive to eat.

Theme days at home

You don’t even have to leave the house to enjoy a low-cost staycation with your family. Step away from the computer and turn off all mobile devices. Then, pick a theme. For example, you can learn about another country or culture. Find out how the people dress and what they eat. Prepare a meal in keeping with the theme, watch movies from that country, and modify some of what you have around the house to imitate the appropriate dress.

These theme days can also include topics like “beach,” “spa,” and “mountain.” Figure out what you can do to get in the right mindset. The idea is to do something a little different and fun with your time. It doesn’t have to cost much money, and when your whole family is involved, it can create good memories—and give your kids something cool to talk about when they’re asked about their weekend.