10 Helpful Tips for Planning a Staycation with Kids

Whether you are trying to stick to a budget, or just want to stay close to home, a staycation can be the best of both worlds. A staycation means time spent with family without breaking the bank, or traveling close to home and playing tourist in your hometown. Whatever your reasons might be, a staycation is a perfect way for families to have fun. Use these tips for planning a staycation everyone will enjoy!

10 Tips for Planning a Staycation with Kids - Kids Are A Trip

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Steps for Planning a Staycation with Your Family

1. Call a family meeting

Find a time when everyone in the family can get together. We suggest dinner but meet at a time that works for your family. Have someone take notes and brainstorm ideas for a staycation. Do you want a staycation at home? Or do you want to play tourist in your own city? How long will the staycation be? How far will you go? What will you do? Take turns and let everyone contribute to the conversation.

Make sure kids are involved and use their input to help with planning. Maybe you even come up with a theme for your staycation. (Ideas could be: relaxation, road trip, or outdoor adventures). After this meeting, a solid staycation plan should be set.

Discuss how much you want to enjoy your staycation. Will you collect the mail? Turn off phones? Check email? Consider completing chores before you start your staycation. Finish the laundry, pay the bills, clean the house, and wrap up anything you don’t want to tackle while you are taking a break.

family planning staycation

2. Set a budget

Parents should have an idea of what they want to spend or expenses can quickly get out of hand. Whether it’s a daily budget or a weekly budget, be sure to include meals, transportation costs, and admission to attractions.

Remember, the purpose of a staycation is to spend less than a vacation, so keep that in mind when planning. Don’t miss our tips for saving money on vacation to help with setting a budget.

3. Do the research when planning a staycation

Once your family develops a general outline, it’s time to start researching what everyone wants to do and when to do it. Consider heading to the local library for ideas or research travel blogs. Some libraries have passes for discounts on attractions.

Check websites such as Groupon or Living Social for deals. Other places to find discounts can be credit cards or local museums that offer free days (Google: “free museum days near me” to find dates and times).

child at museum

4. Ask friends for advice

Most of the time, friends can be the best source of inspiration for planning a staycation. Ask if they have found any unique places or activities they would recommend. Check local Facebook groups and don’t be afraid to post a question. You might be surprised by the variety of answers and ideas everyone shares.

5. Where will you stay

Since it’s a staycation, the obvious answer is at home. However, many local hotels have discounted rates for last-minute bookings. Check HotelTonight, they offer some great deals.

Another option would be to go camping. Find somewhere nearby, pack your gear, and head out for a day or two. If you aren’t a camper, check out Camping Tips for Everyone with plenty of ideas from camping locations to what to pack and cook. 

If you love the outdoors, but don’t want to camp, find a National Park near you. Most have lodging accommodations in the park or surrounding area and provide amazing adventures you can’t find at home.

If you are feeling really adventurous, consider home swapping. We realize this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but you can have some really unique experiences. Check out TrustedHousesitters.com or ask a friend if they want to swap.

6. Consider taking a local tour

Why not play tourist in your home town and take a tour? Airbnb Experiences, Withlocals, and ToursByLocals offer several options for exploring cities like a local. Other places to look for tours would be GetYourGuide, Context Travel, and Viator. Just be sure to keep everything on budget.

7. Find a local hiking spot

If your goal is to get the kids outside and unplugged, head to a nearby park, preserve, or hiking trail. Check out the site All Trails to help find a trail near you.

Woman hiking with child

8. Try a new restaurant or cook a new recipe

If you can’t travel, why not experience another culture through its food? Whether you head to a local restaurant or prepare a new recipe, both will expose your taste buds to something new.

Maybe there’s a neighborhood in your community that offers different experiences. Ethnic neighborhoods in Chicago like Greek Town, Chinatown, Pilsen (Hispanic), and Andersonville (Swedish) come to mind, and each one offers unique opportunities.

Little Italy Boston
Little Italy in Boston would make for a great staycation.

9. Learn a new skill

If you want the perfect staycation, but don’t want to leave your house, consider trying an online class. Masterclass is a great resource, teaching over 180 classes in 10 minutes or less. Maybe your family wants to learn how to cook restaurant recipes at home. Masterclass has a session led by Gordon Ramsey! There’s even a Conservation Class led by Jane Goodall.

Whether you want to tackle a DIY project or cooking classes, a staycation is a perfect time to cross off items on your bucket list!

10. Home-based fun staycation ideas

Everyone turns off their electronics for a full day of fun. Here are some ideas:

  • Living room or backyard staycation campout – movies, have a camp out by building a tent inside, set up bean bags for reading, indoor s’mores (cook in the oven).
  • Spa day – light candles, take bubble baths, at-home yoga class, foot massages and/or manicures and pedicures.
  • Olympics – have your own mini Olympics with different events, make medals for awards, and create torches out of paper towel rolls and colored tissue paper.
  • Around the world – check out books from the library, watch movies, learn a few new vocabulary words, and cook a new meal together.
  • Volunteer – research local opportunities and make time as a family to help others in need.

Have we convinced you to stay home? Where will you spend your staycation?