After the past few months, it’s understandable if you want to get away from it all. Although international travel isn’t feasible at the moment, you can still get that adventurous thrill with a staycation. A blend of vacationing and staying at home, a staycation can be just as exciting and luxurious as a regular trip – all it takes is some creativity and careful planning. It’s also much cheaper than a regular holiday so you can have fun without worrying about draining your bank account. 

Check out these 15 budget-friendly staycation ideas if you’re ready to start planning your local getaway.

    1. Attend a virtual music festival

    Most music festivals are cancelled because of COVID-19, but the shows must go on (digitally). Countless artists and festival organizers are moving their events online so you can still watch live performances all summer long. Take a look at Billboard’s ever-expanding list of musical events that can be streamed right from your home and don’t miss virtual festivals like the Essence Festival of Culture (June 25-28 and July 2-6), Winnipeg Folk Festival at Home (July 11), and Tomorrowland Around the World (July 25-26).

    2. Have a spa day at home 

    Skip the expensive spa retreat and pamper yourself at home with a DIY manicure and facial. Take it a step further by transforming your bathroom into a relaxing oasis using an essential oil diffuser, candles, and zen music. If you really want to indulge, soak in the tub with a glass of wine or book an in-home massage.

    3. Be a tourist in your own city

    Take a weekend to discover new places in your hometown. From museums and markets to historic districts and nature parks, you’ll find plenty to explore in your backyard. Before you head out, browse sites like Groupon and Living Social for discounts on local attractions, events, and restaurants.

    4. Camp under the stars 

    Parks Canada is offering camping services at select national parks this summer, so find the closest one near you and escape to the great outdoors. Turn off your phone and fill your schedule with activities like hiking, fishing, stargazing, and roasting marshmallows over an open fire. If you don’t live close to a campground, you can always pitch a tent in your backyard and share ghost stories with a flashlight.

    5. Go on safari

    You don’t have to go all the way to Kenya or Botswana to catch a glimpse of Africa’s Big Five. Many zoos and wildlife parks in Canada offer safari experiences so you can come face-to-face with lions, elephants, rhinos, and more. If there aren’t any safaris near you, ask your local farm if they’re open to the public. Farms like Eagle Acres in Langley have started running “safarmis”, self-drive tours which give you the chance to spot cows, pigs, ponies, and other barn animals.

    6. Head to a drive-in theatre or restaurant

    Give your staycation a retro vibe and practice social distancing at the same time by watching movies at a drive-in theatre. Drive-in restaurants are also making a comeback so grab a bite at one if you want to feel nostalgic. 

    7. Take a day trip

    The excitement of exploring a foreign country can be easily replicated with a one-day getaway. Pick a nearby town or neighbourhood you’ve never been to and spend the afternoon getting lost in new shops and streets. The best part is you don’t need to shell out money for a hotel room since you’re headed home at the end of the day.

    8. Hit the beach 

    You may not be able to go to Mexico, but you can bring the down south vacation up north. When the sun’s out, head to the nearest coastline or lake for swimming, suntanning, and long walks on the beach. You can also round up some friends to play beach volleyball or fly kites and build sandcastles with the kids. Don’t forget the sunscreen and a cooler filled with refreshing drinks.

    9. Learn a new skill

    Is there something you’ve always wanted to try but never had the chance to learn? Well, now is the time to do it. Whether it’s painting, woodworking, cooking, or creative writing, you can take all sorts of classes at universities and community colleges. If you’re worried about cost, look out for one-day workshops and affordable courses at your local library or community centre.

     10. Volunteer

    Volunteering is a great way to give back to your community while making new friends and learning valuable skills. You can volunteer at all sorts of places including animal shelters, retirement homes, hospitals, and food banks. Find a cause you believe in and choose a volunteer position that interests you. Volunteer opportunities in your area can be found on Volunteer Canada.

    11. Throw an event at your place 

    Invite your friends over for a barbecue, movie marathon, or board game night. Feel free to get creative and organize events based on your favourite reality TV shows. For example, you could host an Amazing Race party, arrange a cooking competition just like Chopped, or set up an American Ninja Warrior obstacle course in your backyard.

    12. Picnic in the park

    Surprise your sweetie with a romantic picnic in the park. You’ll want to pack a cozy blanket and delicious selection of cheeses and charcuterie items. If you don’t have time to prep a meal beforehand, grab take-out from your favourite restaurant or food truck.

    13. Do a wine tasting

    Canada’s wine regions are located in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia. Consider doing a wine tour and participating in guided tastings if you live in these provinces. If you’re not close to any wineries, you can always host a wine tasting at home. Prepare an assortment of appetizers and tell your friends to bring their favourite bottle to share.

    14. Create your own tour 

    Play tour guide for the day by planning an exciting excursion for your family. You can put together a food tour with stops at different eateries or lead a bike tour through your favourite parks and trails.

    15. Host a sports day

    Bring out your crew’s competitive side by challenging them to a variety of outdoor activities. Sports such as soccer, kickball, and basketball don’t require much gear, while games like tug of war, water balloon tosses, and potato sack races are quick to set up in a backyard or local park.

Budgeting tips for your staycation

Staycations don’t cost nearly as much as regular vacations, however, they can add up if you’re not careful. 

It’s easy to stick to your budget and prevent overspending when you:

  • Use budgeting apps like Mint and Wally to track your spending. 
  • Follow the cash envelope system to reduce impulsive credit card purchases.
  • Save for staycations using the 50/20/30 rule which sets aside 30% of your income for leisure activities. 
  • Redeem credit card reward points for free movie tickets, restaurant gift cards, and admission to local attractions.