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15 Winter Staycation Ideas & Tips – Staying Home for Vacation


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If you’re anything like me you’re probably dreaming of sunshine, sandy beaches or just going outside without being assaulted by air so cold it hurts your teeth. Yes, it’s that time of year again, when many people start fantasizing about finally taking that tropical vacation…

The problem? Escaping to the jungle just isn’t in the budget.

If that is your situation, you’re not alone. I’m in the same boat, as are millions of other people. I’d love to jet down to Cocoa Beach for a week of doing nothing but tan. But we’re staying home to save money.

Fortunately, no matter how small your entertainment budget, you can always come up with romantic staycation ideas for couples or creative staycations for the whole family. That’s what we’ll be doing. Here’s why – and how.

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Benefits of the Staycation

Staying at home may sound a bit boring, especially when it’s freezing outside. But keep these benefits in mind:

  • You save a ton of money when you stay at home! Just think about how much it costs to travel: plane tickets, car rentals, hotels, eating out, activities. It’s a big number.
  • Staying at home gives you the chance to learn about your local area. You might be surprised at how much there is to do in your city, town or region.
  • Staying at home can in fact be more relaxing and restorative than traveling. You don’t have to deal with packing, crowded airports (and the headache of cancellations if there’s a storm), navigating an unfamiliar place, or keeping the kids entertained. You also don’t need to worry about dealing with cold or flu remedies and treatment while traveling, and you’ll be able to beat the “winter blues” (i.e. seasonal affective disorder) by relaxing and doing something fun.
  • Staycations keep the money you spend local, helping benefit the people in your own community. Big plus!

A Staycation is Not for Chores or Errands

It’s so tempting to treat vacation time at home as “catch up” time for all the chores, projects and errands you have been putting off because of your busy schedule. If you’re not careful, you’ll spend your staycation deep cleaning the oven, decluttering the guest bedroom, keeping up with the weekly house cleaning schedule, catching up on laundry and watching TV. None of that is what the staycation is about.

Avoid the temptation to do work while you’re on vacation. You can help avoid this by cleaning your house before your vacation starts. Some people do this when they take a real vacation (because it’s so nice to come home to a clean house), and it’s a good idea to do the same for a staycation.

Also, plan in detail what you’re going to do before your vacation starts so you’re not sitting at home, twiddling your thumbs (which is usually when the TV gets turned on and the laundry rotations start). There are various fun outdoor winter activities for kids and adults alike. Below are some more specific ideas you can use for your staycation.

15 Winter Staycation Ideas

  1. Explore your local state or national parks. If you live in a snowy area, then try cross-country skiing, snowmobiling or snowshoeing.
  2. Visit local museums or historical societies. I live within two miles of the Detroit Institute of Art, the Detroit Science Center, and the Detroit Historical Museum. On our staycation we’ll have time to slow down and really explore these great institutions.
  3. Try new recipes. You can make gourmet coffee recipes at home for leisurely breakfasts, make some gourmet meals, or try a new ethnic dish. You can even save money by picking up some frugal gourmet food and cooking ingredients.
  4. Go ice skating.
  5. Stock up on some books from your local library you’ve been wanting to read (a good way to save money on books and magazines).
  6. Splurge on a visit to a local spa for a massage, or a day lounging in the hot tubs and saunas. If you live close to a nice hotel or casino, keep in mind that these places often have lush indoor pools and spas for their guests. You can often buy a day pass for under $50.
  7. Do a craft project you’ve been thinking about trying. For instance, I’ve been wanting to learn how to turn wine bottles into drinking cups. And, there’s no time like a staycation to learn a cool new skill like that!
  8. Plant an indoor windowsill herb garden. This can also help you save money all winter!
  9. Throw a winter party with your friends. Mulled wine, fondue, and games will warm you up.
  10. Go to a local sporting event. Basketball and hockey season are both during the winter months.
  11. Find some indoor fun like bowling or miniature golf.
  12. Go to your local botanical garden. Most cities and many universities will have a conservatory or greenhouse you can visit. Inside the air is hot, tropical and filled with lush plants and flowers. This is one of my favorite wintertime activities!
  13. Try a new restaurant you’ve had your eye on. Use group buying daily deals sites like Groupon and Living Social for ideas.
  14. Tackle fun DIY projects or life skills like home canning. There are plenty of recipes that use dried or winter fruits such as citrus.
  15. Go on a winter hike.

Will you be taking a winter staycation this year? If so, what will you be doing? Do you have any other fun ideas you’d like to add?


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Heather Levin is a writer with over 15 years experience covering personal finance, natural health, parenting, and green living. She lives in the mountains of Western North Carolina with her husband and two young sons, where they're often wandering on frequent picnics to find feathers and wildflowers.