Affordable Staycation Ideas Get a Wallet Friendly Break by Kelly Gabriel Affordable staycation ideas thrived during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. And whether you like them or not, chances are that you took one in 2020. You may even be looking at that option again this year. Staycations are easier on the wallet, let you sleep in your own bed, and can turn into a real vacation for your whole family. Here are some of our top tips and ideas to make the most of your next break at home:How to Plan an Affordable Staycation Like most things in life, the best way to have the staycation you want is to plan for it. Start with the basics: when it should begin and when it should end. Once it begins, your work brain should be turned off. That means no answering business calls or responding to emails; think of it like being on a tropical island with no Wi-Fi or cell coverage. The next step is to plan your activities. If you don\u2019t, you might end up cleaning out the garage, doing chores around the house, watching TV, or browsing the internet \u2013 stuff that probably won\u2019t make for good memories. As you think about what activities you want to do, make a vacation budget to decide how best to use your hard-earned cash. Your vacation budget really only has 2 simple goals: don\u2019t spend more than planned and have fun. It can be daunting to come up with a staycation budget, so start with your household budget. Determine what you can afford and plan within it.The Biggest Money Savers with a Staycation Flights and hotels or other accommodations are often the biggest costs of a vacation, but you won\u2019t have to worry about those at all with a staycation. This frees up a lot of extra money that you can either pocket for later or spend on more fun activities. You can also use your credit card or grocery store reward points to get free movie passes, restaurant gift cards, or admission to local attractions. The key to having a good staycation is to act like a tourist in your own hometown. What sights, scenes, and activities would you recommend to any visiting family or friends? Try those out with the eyes and attitude of a tourist. Consider festivals, fairs, free events, and even volunteer opportunities that are different from your regular job. Also see if there\u2019s an Entertainment Book covering your area or Groupon deals that can help you find things to do at a bargain price; other daily discount companies include LivingSocial, Buytopia, and WagJag. Asking your community through social media could also be a good way to get ideas for things to do and maybe some deals too. Whatever you do, remember to take a lot of pictures!16 Low Cost Ideas for Your Next Staycation Coming up with low-cost ideas for an affordable staycation will help you get the most out of your holiday time as well as stick to your budget. Some couples will take turns planning a staycation day for their partner and this works well when planning with family members too. It becomes a great opportunity to make sure that there\u2019s something for everyone to enjoy and remember. Here are 16 ideas to get you started: \u00a0 Attend a virtual event or activity. There are a lot of these now because of the pandemic and you might be surprised at what you could find. For example, did you know that you could tour World Heritage Sites from home? Visit local or regional museums. Find interesting parks within a 30-minute drive. If you\u2019ve got someone with you, rent a tandem bike for more fun together. If it\u2019s a flat park, you could even try out rollerblades! If ferries are available to you, pack a lunch, hop on a boat, and go exploring. You might want to take a bike to increase your fun and allow yourself to explore a larger area. Find a deal for a nearby hotel or bed and breakfast. Create your own wine tasting tour if you live within driving distance of some wineries. Make sure to have a designated driver! Spend a day picking fruit. If you pick berries, you can freeze them for use throughout the winter. If you\u2019re into baking or canning, you can easily create another day of activity for yourself. Enjoy local pools or water parks. Try kayaking or canoeing. It\u2019s peaceful and provides good exercise. Check with friends or family to borrow rather than buy what you need. Go hiking some place within a short drive. Hiking or even just going for a walk is a great way to explore, enjoy nature, get some fresh air, and relax. See if your city offers recreation programs and consider enrolling in one. Take a class to learn a new hobby or skill. Ideas include gourmet cooking, woodworking, creative writing, photography, or a short history course at a local university. Spend a day at the lake. You can swim, fish, rent a small boat, explore trails, enjoy the scenery and the cool breeze, or just soak up some sun. Share kindness with someone who needs it. Ask what they could use help with, take them out for lunch, or just go for a walk and listen to them. Chances are you\u2019ll get as much out of this as the person you show kindness to and it could easily become the highlight of your staycation. Camp in your own backyard or stay at a nearby campsite. If you\u2019re adventurous, try camping for free along a lake or river somewhere off the beaten track. Visit your local library and find a bunch of books or magazines that you would really enjoy reading \u2013 or better yet, find a library that you\u2019ve never visited before. Budget and Health Conscious Staycations Affordable staycations are great not only for the budget conscious, but also the health conscious. There are after all many considerations to make with long-distance travel (not the least of which is insurance coverage). Staying within your local network of healthcare and support lets you enjoy your time off with more peace of mind. It can also be easier to stick to you diet and food choices if you can pack homemade snacks or cook your own meals. Whether you\u2019re keeping local, within your own province, or considering a plane trip, remember to always follow the current public health and travel rules for where you are and where you want to go. Stay safe and have fun!