2015’s Best & Worst Cities for Staycations

by John S Kiernan

2014 Best and Worst Cities for StaycationSummer hasn’t even officially started, and travel is already trending upward, as Americans can’t seem to wait for an escape. More than 37 million people ventured at least 50 miles from home throughout Memorial Day weekend, according to AAA, and 81 percent of Americans are planning a summer vacation this year.

The 2015 summer travel season is also expected to be rather less expensive – with 42 percent of vacationers spending more than $1,500, whereas 10 percent are spending more than $3,000, down from 46 percent and 13 percent, respectively, in 2014 – due in part to a decrease in hotel and airfare costs in popular destinations.

If you don’t think you can afford such a hefty tab, you aren’t alone. The average household still has roughly $7,000 in credit card debt hanging over their head, we have yet to solve our student loan problems, and full employment is still two years away.

Where does that leave us? A staycation might be in order. Certain cities are obviously more conducive to a staycation than others. From recreation opportunities to the cost of relaxation, there are a number of factors to consider when evaluating whether or not you can bring the benefits of a vacation to your front door.

With that in mind, WalletHub considered 17 of the most important factors in ranking the 100 most populated U.S. cities. Hopefully our findings can help frugal-minded consumers who are on the fence about staying home or taking a trip make the best decisions for their wallets and enjoy a bit of fun this summer.

Main Findings

Embed on your website

 

Rank City Recreation Activities Rank Food & Entertainment Rank Rest & Relaxation Rank
1 Orlando, FL 13 7 4
2 Atlanta, GA 4 22 2
3 Cincinnati, OH 1 10 16
4 Scottsdale, AZ 21 4 5
5 Boise, ID 2 20 7
6 St. Louis, MO 6 9 12
7 Pittsburgh, PA 9 2 24
8 Tampa, FL 25 18 1
9 Portland, OR 16 3 38
10 Las Vegas, NV 48 1 14
11 Tucson, AZ 22 16 13
12 St. Petersburg, FL 15 43 6
13 New Orleans, LA 27 5 29
14 Omaha, NE 10 23 18
15 Minneapolis, MN 17 6 53
16 Austin, TX 42 13 10
17 Reno, NV 26 11 24
18 Denver, CO 24 17 22
19 Honolulu, HI 31 8 61
20 Winston-Salem, NC 28 63 3
21 Seattle, WA 11 21 63
22 Kansas City, MO 29 26 27
23 Albuquerque, NM 5 37 65
24 Miami, FL 37 14 34
25 Raleigh, NC 20 36 26
26 Buffalo, NY 18 12 78
27 Sacramento, CA 40 49 11
28 Baton Rouge, LA 38 29 28
29 Tulsa, OK 43 55 8
30 Washington, DC 19 32 59
31 Lexington, KY 23 35 44
32 San Francisco, CA 47 14 52
33 Madison, WI 2 31 92
34 Lincoln, NE 33 40 31
35 Greensboro, NC 7 61 72
36 Baltimore, MD 35 27 77
37 Cleveland, OH 60 25 37
38 Toledo, OH 45 34 51
39 Birmingham, AL 8 46 76
40 Lubbock, TX 34 50 43
41 Milwaukee, WI 44 19 81
42 Boston, MA 30 27 88
43 Nashville, TN 64 24 45
44 St. Paul, MN 12 30 97
45 Philadelphia, PA 68 38 17
46 Henderson, NV 54 69 9
47 Chicago, IL 61 45 21
48 Fort Wayne, IN 41 44 66
49 San Diego, CA 56 39 60
50 Colorado Springs, CO 46 32 89
51 Mesa, AZ 50 71 32
52 Corpus Christi, TX 63 62 36
53 Chandler, AZ 57 74 20
54 Durham, NC 32 68 69
55 Louisville, KY 39 41 96
56 Virginia Beach, VA 14 75 95
57 Memphis, TN 72 47 75
58 Oklahoma City, OK 77 54 40
59 Columbus, OH 64 57 61
60 Indianapolis, IN 78 48 54
61 Glendale, AZ 52 78 50
62 Long Beach, CA 61 67 47
63 El Paso, TX 85 51 35
64 Wichita, KS 58 41 94
65 Phoenix, AZ 86 58 19
66 Plano, TX 59 90 15
67 New York, NY 67 65 73
68 Jacksonville, FL 53 73 78
69 San Antonio, TX 80 59 55
70 Norfolk, VA 36 79 82
71 Anchorage, AK 51 53 98
72 Dallas, TX 70 56 83
73 Garland, TX 64 88 23
74 Charlotte, NC 69 70 68
75 Aurora, CO 55 85 41
76 Detroit, MI 75 52 92
77 Houston, TX 81 59 80
78 Fort Worth, TX 73 66 85
79 Arlington, TX 83 77 47
80 Los Angeles, CA 87 72 45
81 Stockton, CA 79 89 33
82 Irvine, CA 76 98 30
83 Chesapeake, VA 49 92 87
84 Irving, TX 71 93 49
85 San Jose, CA 84 80 56
86 Oakland, CA 74 64 99
87 Gilbert, AZ 91 81 41
88 Riverside, CA 88 82 58
89 Bakersfield, CA 96 76 64
90 Fresno, CA 89 86 74
91 Laredo, TX 92 99 39
92 Newark, NJ 82 87 90
93 North Las Vegas, NV 94 84 67
94 Hialeah, FL 93 96 71
95 San Bernardino, CA 97 90 57
96 Jersey City, NJ 99 95 69
97 Fremont, CA 90 100 86
98 Anaheim, CA 98 94 84
99 Santa Ana, CA 100 83 91
100 Chula Vista, CA 95 97 100

Best-&-Worst-Cities-for-Staycations-Artwork

Ask The Experts:  The Pros & Cons of Staycations

There are certainly arguments to be made for and against taking a staycation. Saving money is a virtue, but a change of scenery can also do the mind, body and, ultimately, the wallet some good. With that in mind, we turned to a panel of experts in the fields of leisure studies, travel and psychology for their take on the benefits and drawbacks of staycations. You can check out their bios and responses below.

  1. Are staycations a good money-saving idea?
  2. What activities can families do locally without breaking the bank?
  3. What is the best time of year to have a staycation?
  4. How can families assess financially whether they should choose a staycation instead of a vacation?
  5. Are there any psychological drawbacks to a staycation?
  6. What are some tips for having a truly relaxing staycation?
< >
  • Lisa Thomas and Nicholas J. Thomas Assistant Professor and Visiting Associate Professor, respectively, at DePaul University, School of Hospitality Leadership
  • Carla Barbieri Associate Professor of Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management at North Carolina State University
  • Lori Pennington-Gray Associate Professor of Tourism, Recreation & Sport Management, and Director of the Tourism Crisis Management Institute at University of Florida
  • Philip F. Xie Professor of Tourism, Leisure and Event Planning at Bowling Green State University, School of Human Movement, Sport and Leisure Studies
  • John Dattilo Professor of Recreation, Park and Tourism Management at Pennsylvania State University
  • Chenchen Huang Associate Professor of Hospitality and Tourism at SUNY Buffalo State
  • Sherie Brezina Associate Professor of Resort and Hospitality Management at Florida Gulf Coast University, Lutgert College of Business
  • Howard Adler Professor of Hospitality and Tourism at Purdue University
  • Christopher Muller Professor of the Practice at Boston University School of Hospitality Administration
  • Aixa A. Ritz Associate Professor in the International School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Fairleigh Dickinson University
  • Tadayuki (Tad) Hara Associate Professor of Hospitality Management at University of Central Florida, Rosen College of Hospitality Management
  • Susan Williams Associate Professor of Recreation and Tourism Management at Concord University
  • Billy Bai Professor and Senior Assistant Dean in the William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration at the University of Nevada Las Vegas
  • Radesh Palakurthi Director of The Kemmons Wilson School of Hospitality and Resort Management, and InterContinental Hotel Group Endowed Chair of Excellence at University of Memphis
  • Denis P. Rudd Professor of Hospitality and Tourism Management, and Director of Hospitality Management at Robert Morris University
  • John Bowen Dean of Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, and Barron Hilton Distinguished Chair at University of Houston
  • Stephanie G. Hein Professor of Hospitality and Restaurant Administration at Missouri State University
  • Samantha Rozier Rich Lead Researcher and Owner at enRiched Consulting, LLC, and Adjunct Professor of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management at North Carolina State University
  • David Kaufman Director of the Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Program at University of Vermont, Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources
  • Lisa T. Fall, APR Professor of Advertising & Public Relations at University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • Mark Bonn Robert H. Dedman Professor of Services Management at Florida State University, College of Business
  • Jennifer Redinger Assistant Professor of Hospitality Management at State University of New York at Delhi
  • Michelle Millar Assistant Professor of Hospitality Management at University of San Francisco, School of Management

Lisa Thomas and Nicholas J. Thomas

Assistant Professor and Visiting Associate Professor, respectively, at DePaul University, School of Hospitality Leadership
Lisa Thomas and Nicholas J. Thomas
Are staycations a good money-saving idea?

Absolutely. When you take into account all the expenses associated with traveling to another location (airfare, lodging, and transportation at the destination), the cost savings can be significant.

What activities can families do locally without breaking the bank?

Personally, we like to prepare meals that involve longer than normal prep time. For example, we may make a special brunch item or homemade pasta. Family and friends that cook together and then eat together will have a more engaged connection. I also make a point to do a special shopping trip for all the food and beverages that will be needed. Leaving for the grocery store mid-staycation brings me back into the “grind”.

Staycations are a great chance to binge watch those series or movies you’ve been wanting to catch up on. Creating a theme takes the staycation to the next level. For example, an Italian theme, making Italian food and watching movies filled or based in Italy (i.e., The Godfather, The Italian Job, etc.).

For those so inclined, staycations can be a great time to carve out time to discuss life goals. The staycation can be spent talking to your spouse or partner about what you’d like to achieve in the months, or even years ahead.

If you’re feeling adventurous, staycations can be a great way to get out and explore your city or town during less hectic times, from farmers markets, art galleries, to museums. Also arranging for spa appointments at a nearby location is a wonderful opportunity to slow down and relax.

What is the best time of year to have a staycation?

This is a tough one since everyone has such hectic and varied schedules. For us, a staycation on a birthday or anniversary makes the event even more special. Or as a reward after accomplishing a big goal.

How can families assess financially whether they should choose a staycation instead of a vacation?

Every family is different, but there is no doubt that, if planned correctly, a staycation can be a real money saver for a family. Plus, since traveling can be stressful for a lot of people, staycations could be, in some ways, more relaxing as your vacation dollars are being spent on things you may not normally splurge on.

Are there any psychological drawbacks to a staycation?

Quite often people need their own personal space and spending 24/7 together can be a daunting thought. On staycations, advanced planning can allow for personal time and space for everyone. Maybe catch up on a book or work on a puzzle. Both things can be incredibly relaxing and can be done solo.

What are some tips for having a truly relaxing staycation?

First: Plan, Plan, Plan! Staycations can be a great way to disconnect, but like more traditional forms of vacation, they take planning to ensure relaxing activities are included for everyone in the family. Second, remove distractions. Put an “out of office” announcement on your work email, let people (co-workers, friends, family) know of your intention to relax and “disconnect” for a few days. In extreme cases, this means turning off your mobile device and putting your laptop away.

Disconnect from work. Plan for your staycation adventure including alone and together time.Find a few things to splurge on, from a top-rated restaurant reservation to a pampering spa treatments. Learn from previous staycations, and don’t be afraid to add something new each time. Think about it as a retreat for the mind.

Carla Barbieri

Associate Professor of Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management at North Carolina State University
Carla Barbieri
What activities can families do locally without breaking the bank?

Agritourism is a great option for staycation. Visiting local farms to participate in recreation activities, such as picking-up some fruits, hay-rides or just touring the farm, is a good opportunity to spend some high-quality time with the family and to enjoy agricultural setting, and learn about farming.

Lori Pennington-Gray

Associate Professor of Tourism, Recreation & Sport Management, and Director of the Tourism Crisis Management Institute at University of Florida
Lori Pennington-Gray
Are staycations a good money-saving idea?

A staycation is a vacation where a vacationer stays home instead of traveling away from their home. It usually does not include overnight stays in paid accommodations. Thus, the vacationer’s spending is less because typically the accommodation portion of travel is one of the largest expenses in the total vacation experience (as well as air travel in some cases).

As mentioned above, people save money because they do not have a flight expense or a lodging expense, so costs are reduced typically.

What is the best time of year to have a staycation?

Summer months which include both vacations and staycations are ways to provide educational, relaxing, exciting opportunities for families. Pairing vacations with staycations throughout the summer may provide additive benefits for families and communities. Getting away for a relaxing vacation as well as staying home and taking advantage of things in your own backyard are ways to stretch your vacation dollars.

Are there any psychological drawbacks to a staycation?

A staycation cannot really replace a vacation - typically if people stay home they tend to still respond to work calls, do chores around the house, so the benefits of “getting away” are more difficult to achieve. So the drawbacks psychologically tend to outweigh the cost savings.

What are some tips for having a truly relaxing staycation?

A truly relaxing staycation would involve an overnight paid experience in local lodging - getting away from home is often part of the rest and relaxation benefits accrued from a vacation so this component of a vacation is essential to achieving relaxation.

In addition, taking advantage of local attractions and events are tips to a relaxing staycation. Being a “tourist in your hometown” is critical to ensuring similar benefits to a traditional vacation.

Philip F. Xie

Professor of Tourism, Leisure and Event Planning at Bowling Green State University, School of Human Movement, Sport and Leisure Studies
Philip F. Xie
Are staycations a good money-saving idea?

Yes, staycations encourage an individual or family to stay home, or participate in leisure activities within a driving distance. The term was first used in 2003 in the Myrtle Beach Sun-News and became a buzz word after the economic recession occurred in 2008.

It is an excellent money-saving idea due to the impact of gas prices and financial crisis nationwide. When everything from food to hotel rooms has become more expensive, staycation is an alternative solution to enjoy vacation without breaking the bank. In addition, the concept of staycation extends to college students who choose to spend the spring break locally instead of traveling to these popular destinations. Staycation represents a money-saving, budget travel image at the beginning and continues to market for local tourists as a way to "explore the backyard".

What activities can families do locally without breaking the bank?

There are plenty of leisure activities families can do without breaking the bank. For example, attending the local festivals, visiting museums, theme parks, and even watching movies together will be excellent family activities. A staycation also refers to casual dining restaurants where family members can enjoy the meals in a relaxed environment.

What is the best time of year to have a staycation?

Almost year around. However, spring and summer are the best times of year to enjoy a staycation. Summer is peak travel season when many tourist destinations raise the price. Doing a staycation is ideal when the local offers many things to do and see.

How can families assess financially whether they should choose a staycation instead of a vacation?

The previous research shows that staycation tends to market to the middle class because they are affordable and willing to travel. A family will choose to do a staycation if the local destination has a lot to offer. For example, the programs suitable for children or the costs of transportation play a key role in choosing a staycation instead of a vacation.

Are there any psychological drawbacks to a staycation?

Very few psychological drawbacks to a staycation – it is a matter of choice. Academic research aims to understand the motivations and segments of staycation, for example, what motivates a family to do a staycation? Will financial concern is the primary factor? It appears that a wide variety of market segments choose a staycation, such as enthusiasts for local culture and events, allocentric or psychocentric to select a local destination, and an "environmental bubble" to avoid a long distance travel, etc.

What are some tips for having a truly relaxing staycation?

Do the homework first and understand the nature of staycation. It turns into an innovative way to keep people traveling and spending money but within a short distance.

The tips include:

(1) Be aware of the travel distance. A staycation consists of a leisure trip within a 50 mile drive radius of their home. The key is to ensure that the individual or the family has a feeling of "being away" while staying in their home state or city;

(2) Pay attention to the local business promotion. Many local businesses offer a series of discounts and promotions centered on tourist attractions, such as a family pass for zoo and museums during travel season. In addition, restaurants provide the tasting package to attract local consumers. The information can often be found in local newspapers and social media;

(3) Plan ahead. Price is one of the key factors of taking a staycation; therefore, planning is important to ensure the limited budget is well spent. Decisions need to be made whether or not to use vacationers' home as a base to do the day trips; or stay in a hotel to enjoy all kind of amenities;

(4) Determine the preference. An excellent staycation means each member of the family gets to experience something they love. Have a good discussion about ideas and interests will lead to a truly relaxing staycation;

(5) Have a frank conversation. Talking frankly about the budgets and expectations is very helpful for staycations. Staycation makes sense when each finds the destination and activities that suit the individuals or the whole family;

(6) flexibility counts. Some local destinations offer limited leisure activities. If so, one needs to explore other opportunities, such as shopping.

Expect the unexpected seems to be the best relaxing staycation.

John Dattilo

Professor of Recreation, Park and Tourism Management at Pennsylvania State University
John Dattilo
Are staycations a good money-saving idea?

As with anything, they can be, especially by saving money on transportation and lodging costs.

What activities can families do locally without breaking the bank?

Local, community, and state parks, as well as nature areas, provide an excellent opportunity to be in the great outdoors, get some physical activity, and share an experience with friends and family, especially if it is a favorite spot or a new destination. You can also pair such an experience with going to a unique, locally owned eatery or coffee shop. Trying something new even though it is close by can create an adventure experienced in your backyard.

What is the best time of year to have a staycation?

Swimming in a lake in the summer, hiking on a trail in the fall, cross-country skiing in the winter, and strolling through gardens in the spring are all activities that can be a part of a staycation – so, anytime of year is great for a staycation.

How can families assess financially whether they should choose a staycation instead of a vacation?

As with any leisure pursuit, trying to achieve a balance between income and expenditures is an important consideration.

Are there any psychological drawbacks to a staycation?

A terrific aspect of travel is the experience of seeing a different part of the world and being exposed to different perspectives. So how might one augment national and international travel? One possibility is to share a staycation with friends or acquaintances such as those who are recent immigrants, visiting from another country, or temporarily residing on one’s community, such as international students. Being willing to create a home environment for an exchange student and involving them can create unique ways of experiencing a staycation and positive memories for all involved.

What are some tips for having a truly relaxing staycation?

It is easier for many of us to relax when we are doing something that occurs within a respectful context. Being respectful of all people and the environment associated with your staycation can help increase the ability to create a relaxed situation; when you are more respectful of others they are more likely to treat you with respect and thus create a context conducive for fun and relaxation. Also, treating the environment respectfully is more likely to create a more sustainable experience that can be enjoyed for years and reduce anxiety associated with not being able to repeat a staycation experience. Staying positive about any experience tends to produce more positive feelings and helps to make the experience more relaxing – looking at the glass containing a staycation as half full creates a win-win situation.

For many of us, when we avoid rushing, we avoid stress; so, even when traveling locally it is helpful to leave plenty of time to arrive at a local destination in a timely manner. Another way to avoid stress is to work together with those involved with the staycation to develop consensus or be willing to compromise on what to do and when to do it. Alternatively, it is fun to have one person plan a secret staycation and then sweep others into a mysterious adventure.

Chenchen Huang

Associate Professor of Hospitality and Tourism at SUNY Buffalo State
Chenchen Huang
Are staycations a good money-saving idea?

Staycations can save money for transportation and lodging; some traveling experiences, however, should be measured by the benefits, not the economic costs. For example, family trips with young children. Staycations cannot substitute for family vacations and personal trips altogether. In addition, visiting family and friends is the No.1 travel motivation for domestic trips in the U.S.; one of its beauties is free accommodation.

What activities can families do locally without breaking the bank?

Find more family oriented activities locally. One might be surprised with how much is going on local. A lot of activities are free or cost next to nothing. Use the Internet, pay attention to your friends' posting on Facebook or join special interest groups on Facebook. Go low tech and get pamphlets from the local Park and Recreation Department or cultural and event department.

What is the best time of year to have a staycation?

When the local weather is good and you know you will have a lot to do if you stay put.

How can families assess financially whether they should choose a staycation instead of a vacation?

Vacations have great benefits for families. Families need to set up a budget for family vacations. The reality might be that a family can only afford one vacation a year. If the family can decide which vacation to take, then the other holidays or free time can be fun staycations.

Are there any psychological drawbacks to a staycation?

Staycations mean not going away and staying at home. Without the psychological break from home and other things, there might be consequences. For example, Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD) in the north part of the nation in the winter time is a big problem. A staycation wouldn't help at all, but a trip to the warm and sunny south will make a difference psychologically.

What are some tips for having a truly relaxing staycation?

Staycations help avoid all the possible stresses related to planning for a trip and actually taking a trip away from home. One thing staycationers want to avoid is overcompensation. Over planning and over doing the staycation thing will defeat the purpose of staycation. Just relax, do something, but not too much, and remember you are saving for the next trip.

Sherie Brezina

Associate Professor of Resort and Hospitality Management at Florida Gulf Coast University, Lutgert College of Business
Sherie Brezina
Are staycations a good money-saving idea?

Staycations do save money because of the ability to visit a destination, sports/ entertainment venue or resort, without the cost of travel and time to and from the destination. If you typically fly to your vacation site, this can add hundreds or thousands of dollars to your vacation cost.

Staycations are particularly smart when you live in a place that thousands of tourist already go to on vacation every year. Everything is in place to make it a vacation if you approach it as a tourist. Staycations are a wonderful way to celebrate the long weekend holidays. No travel hassles; leave the house with a packed bag and you are on vacation in a few minutes.

What activities can families do locally without breaking the bank?

First, there are probably many activities you have never considered that people do in your community to have fun. Start by checking out your cities visitor and convention bureau. They have all kinds of information on what to do for visitors. That is their purpose and their help is free. Look for a recreation activity that the family has not tried before. If you have great parks or campgrounds nearby and you haven't done that before, go camping; learn to square dance, or go white water rafting for the day. Book yourself into a great hotel with a residence rate promotion and sip cocktails under the umbrella all afternoon. Then book a romantic dinner for mom and dad while the kids partake in the campfire hotdog roast.

What is the best time of year to have a staycation?

Anytime... But four days of this type of vacation is ideal. For budgeting purposes, the best rates and specials are going to occur during shoulder season. Prices at the peak of season are higher and it is crowded.

How can families assess financially whether they should choose a staycation instead of a vacation?

Every family has vacation needs. If the budget is a prime concern or you may be looking forward to a dream vacation overseas in the next few years... A Staycation may be a perfect compromise.

Are there any psychological drawbacks to a staycation?

I live in a beautiful place that people love to come to in droves. The staycations I have taken here have made me so much more appreciative of where I live and what it offers. The drawback may be if you are fed up with where you live, then getting out of town may be the better mental health option. Many of my friends that live in cloudy, cold climates really need a sun break about March.

What are some tips for having a truly relaxing staycation?

Treat the time away as if you were a long way from home. Look at your calendar (s) well ahead of time and block the time as vacation. Don't go scheduling work appointments here and there. Tell work you are on vacation during those days. Don't broadcast the fact you are down the street at the fantastic beach resort, or you are skiing everyday and coming home at night to sleep. Most people respect the need to take vacations.

Decide ahead of time what the goals are for the staycations. Realize they will not be the same for each member of the family. Don't over plan the family togetherness activities. Pick out a few activities. that everyone wants to do and then allow for individual choice. Do not return home for any reason, act as if you are far away. Make sure everyone understands the budget and the family rules and go have a blast.

P.S. The best part is that you can use all of the last day of the vacation as time away and then be home in a few minutes, refreshed and ready for the week ahead.

Howard Adler

Professor of Hospitality and Tourism at Purdue University
Howard Adler
Are staycations a good money-saving idea?

Staycations can be a very good way to save money so that a family or couple can use their funds on a longer, more expensive vacation in the near future or to buy another thing which they are saving for, such as a high definition flat screen TV, etc. It is helpful to have a budget even for a staycation because it helps people to prioritize what they really want to do and accomplish, and at what cost.

What activities can families do locally without breaking the bank?

There are many wonderful things which a family can do at little to no cost depending on where you live. Those include buying tickets to a matinee for a Broadway musical or eating early to get a discount. In addition, many concert venues which have seating on a hill side allow families to pack picnic meals. A family can also check their local city or close by to check out which day museums might be half price or even free.

What is the best time of year to have a staycation?

A staycation can be a mini vacation at any time of the year -- for example, during the Christmas shopping season, to go into the city and eat at a special restaurant and do some sightseeing that you don't often get a chance to do.

Summer is also great because the crowds and many sites are often large, but in your own yard you have privacy and can invite anyone you want. This also gives you a chance to practice your barbeque skills or have others bring things to your home as well.

How can families assess financially whether they should choose a staycation instead of a vacation?

Each families financial situation will vary however if you are in a large area with a lot to do such as L.A. or Miami you have a choice of beaches or mountains for day trips as well as many theme parks as well as great weather most of the year. Financially speaking a family needs to evaluate if spending excess sums of money when things are tight might actually cause stress and not lesson it.....Kids can usually understand that you cant always take a fancy week long vacation---if parents are honest and it is explained to them in advance.

Are there any psychological drawbacks to a staycation?

From a psychological standpoint people sometimes need to simply have a change of scenery and get out of their regular routine and a staycation might not work and the adults as well as the kids might wind up feeling cheated or denied a chance to do something different but if handled properly this can be dealt with.

What are some tips for having a truly relaxing staycation?

People need to pick something that they would not ordinarily do while they are in their hometown which might seem boring to some people but in reality others might be coming to your city or town to see those things. In some cases making a mini vacation in the backyard where you have food brought in and rent movies on a big screen out by your pool might work. But what is relaxing to some people might be boring to others so it needs to be tailor made to what your needs are.

Be kind to yourself and the ones you love and involve everyone in the planning so that they feel that even though you might not be going far away -- this can be more than just staying at home as a usual weekend. Relaxing means that kids or parents put away the daily day to day arguments or things that go on and simply try and enjoy together time. This might mean limiting internet or cell phone time for the kids but sometimes it has to be done and making the kids realize that family time -- means family time.

Lastly, realize that the U.S. has the largest percent of domestic tourism in the world mainly because we have so many wonderful and reasonably priced places to visit all over the U.S. so staycations are not really a new concept -- but simply a repackaged idea which can be extremely valuable to not only save money but to do things which don't normally come to mind.

Christopher Muller

Professor of the Practice at Boston University School of Hospitality Administration
Christopher Muller
Are staycations a good money-saving idea?

The most cost savings come from not needing to spend money on costly airfare. With the price of gas being stable and expected to move lower during the summer, a single tankful of gas allows a family to affordably plan a staycation up to 300 miles away from home. A visit to such a website can provide some very good discount lodging and vacation options.

What activities can families do locally without breaking the bank?

State fairs and other regional festivals are great ways for families to get great one or two day experiences at very low entrance fees. Many cities and towns have music, art and outdoor concert programs scheduled throughout the summer season, usually for free.

A fun family “challenge” could be to see how many Fourth of July fireworks nights they can see in the week or 10 days, surrounding the holiday itself.

What is the best time of year to have a staycation?

Summer is great because beaches are inexpensive, mountains are beautiful and lakes are warm. Fall foliage can be fun, but weekends are often expensive at local inns and resorts. A three-day long weekend winter ski or snowboard package can be a very relaxing and renewing get-away.

How can families assess financially whether they should choose a staycation instead of a vacation?

Start with the expected transportation costs for the family, do we need 2, 3 or 5 roundtrip tickets? Can we take some of that money and upgrade to a really special treat nearby resort instead, or possibly extend our stay for an extra day with a dinner in a great local restaurant instead of spending money on travel?

Are there any psychological drawbacks to a staycation?

It is too easy to just make day trips pass for a real vacation, with no feeling or really getting away from the daily grind.

What are some tips for having a truly relaxing staycation?

Book hotels well in advance, making sure that there are amenities which match the traveler’s interests. For example, if a pool is important, look for one that is large and accessible. If golf, or the beach, mountain climbing, historic sites or museums are the goal, do research about parking, price and schedules before booking hotels.

If a family plans to stay in their “home” city or region, they should plan to book a local hotel or resort to spend at least one or two nights “away” and out of the house — coming home after a busy day just means a return to the daily work and grind. Checking into a hotel for a night or two makes things much more relaxed and special.

Aixa A. Ritz

Associate Professor in the International School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Fairleigh Dickinson University
Aixa A. Ritz
Are staycations a good money-saving idea?

Sometimes, the “money-saving” factor is not a deciding one. There are many variables that can make one choose to spend vacation time at home rather than going away.
  • Attractions near home could be a deciding factor, if one lives near New York City, the attractions (i.e., museums, theaters, restaurants, nightlife, beaches, entertainment, etc.) are so varied that travel time saved will be worth a staycation.
  • People who frequently travel for business, consider staycations a great choice.
  • Weather may also play a role on whether to use vacation time on a staycation or going away.
What activities can families do locally without breaking the bank?

Preparing a picnic basket and hiking in a local or nearby park is a great way to spend time with family and enjoy time together. Biking is also a great activity to do together as a family.

What is the best time of year to have a staycation?

This really depends on what you choose to do. In fact, sometimes off season is the best time to go away and save money; Europe in winter is a lot cheaper than in spring and summer when most people tend to travel because of vacation schedules. If one chooses to travel off season, a vacation away can be very affordable.

How can families assess financially whether they should choose a staycation instead of a vacation?

Off season – at destination – travel can be very affordable.

Are there any psychological drawbacks to a staycation?

One of tourism’s biggest motivators is to visit places that are trendy or places that family members/friends with financial means can afford to visit and sometimes one cannot; not being able to state that “we went away” is a psychological drawback. If one travels away for vacation and one’s financial situation changes and going away is not affordable anymore, this can also be a psychological drawback.

What are some tips for having a truly relaxing staycation?

This is a choice that only the person considering a staycation can make; e.g., if one likes to read and does not have time to do so because of other responsibilities, then a staycation can be spent reading. Visits to museums can also be very relaxing, as well as hiking in nearby parks. If one works during the week and has time to go shopping only on weekends when malls are crowded, a shopping trip during the week, when shopping malls are almost empty, can be also very relaxing. Taking a cooking class or simply baking at home can be very relaxing.

There are many activities that are of interest to us, but because of time limitation and responsibilities we do not do and thus a staycation is the ideal time to participate in these activities and relax.

Do something that you enjoy doing and do not have time to do because of work.

Tadayuki (Tad) Hara

Associate Professor of Hospitality Management at University of Central Florida, Rosen College of Hospitality Management
Tadayuki (Tad) Hara
Are staycations a good money-saving idea?

It would surely be a good money saving idea for consumers/travelers. Compared with typical traditional vacationers, they would not spend money for airfares, rental cars and, most likely, hotels either (unless they decide to stay at hotels near their residence). But if you see it from travel-related industry's viewpoint, this would mean fewer businesses, less consumption, less economic impacts.

What activities can families do locally without breaking the bank?

(As mentioned above) Engaging in cultural activities, visiting museums, theatres or performing arts may detach you from normal activities, while you have unusual experiences - you may allocate some money for eating out to places which you do not go usually as you saved lots of money for other items (airfare, other transportation expenditures). If you happen to live not too far from natural parks, this may be a good time to discover local attractions without breaking the bank.

What is the best time of year to have a staycation?

This depends on where you live and what you do, if you enjoy the outdoor parks or hiking around. If you go for cultural activities, it is always a good time to do that even when the outside conditions are not too great or your backyard swimming pool is covered with snow.

How can families assess financially whether they should choose a staycation instead of a vacation?

If the size of family is large (more than 4 or 5), airfare would be substantial for the entire family. But some expenditures at some point in life would be just too precious to miss (ex. your pre-school kids wish to visit Walt Disney World) at any costs. Sometimes the trip itself would be a wonderful journey such as driving from coast to coast with your family. Important part of family travel experience is not always with the experiences at destination but sharing the common experiences with your family members. Therefore, if you think the entire family can be detached from daily routine at staycation, that would be great. But vacation will surely detach you from your routine obligations, so that you have more time to share common experiences with your family. It would be a very special experience to travel with your family members. By preparing well, staycation can be a substitute to save money. It is almost like your experience of staying overnight at your classmate's house in middle school. It is not the location which makes you excited but the excitement and the memories being formed because of with whom you spent the time.

Are there any psychological drawbacks to a staycation?

As stated, how well you can detach family members from daily routines would be a challenge, whether it would be a wonderful retreat, or just another day at home with dining outside. If your kids are high school aged or older, you may have difficulty in persuading them to join the staycation instead of their going out for movies with friends.

What are some tips for having a truly relaxing staycation?

A typical one would be to stay at home and enjoy the swimming pool, which used to be a hot commodity in the house when their children used to be small. But if you stay at home, you will have all the routine access to e-mails and internet, through which you may be drawn back to just another day at home.

Engaging in cultural activities, visiting museums, theaters or performing arts may detach you from normal activities, while you have unusual experiences - you may allocate some money for eating out to places which you do not go usually as you saved lots of money for other items (airfare, other transportation expenditures). I wonder if they can turn off their internet access for a while to get a truly relaxing staycation.

Susan Williams

Associate Professor of Recreation and Tourism Management at Concord University
Susan Williams
Are staycations a good money-saving idea?

Staycations are a wonderful idea, for many reasons! Often, people don't recreate in their own back yards because they think they have to travel far away to find something new or exotic. Yet, with just a little research and a smidge of creativity, it's easy to find a fun restaurant, museum, or waterfall to visit that may just be an hour away! By overnighting at home, families can enjoy significant savings on 3 meals per day and lodging. Another benefit for folks is that they might just learn a bit about their own culture, history, and outdoor recreation opportunities!

What activities can families do locally without breaking the bank?

Many local theaters have a free day during the summer. While you may have already seen what is playing, the act of spending time together is one of the most important parts of vacation that isn't lost at all during a staycation.

Decide on an acceptable distance from home, depending on your family's travel hardiness. Is one hour the max? Two hours? Then, draw a circle on the map surrounding your house and you'll see the appropriate geographic limits for your activities. Then, look for State or National Parks with fun things to do. Anyone with a smartphone can try geocaching (what a fun treasure hunt!).

Visit specialty shops that you may never have time to visit when you are entrenched in the daily grind. What festivals are nearby? If you've never been to the local Strawberry Festival, work it into your plans. Go somewhere on your bicycle - Rail Trails are common and offer safe, easy riding opportunities for the entire family.

Check out the local library for summer activities. Most of us don't participate in local events because we're too tired, not paying attention, or just make the mis-assumption that anything in our hometown is downright lame! You might develop a new appreciation for home, just by experiencing it!

What is the best time of year to have a staycation?

The best time of year to staycate is anytime you can truly "unplug" for one or two days and really get away from it all. It's really a state of mind, moving out of the ordinary to experience the extraordinary. So, if you have a vision of a snowy day of tubing and hot chocolate in the lodge, recreate it! Fall festivals are plentiful in September and October, so make a day of buying pumpkins for your yard, complete with mulled cider and pumpkin pie! Of course, if you have school-aged children, summer vacation is an optimal time for backyard camping, day hikes, or a shopping trip complete with dinner and a movie.

How can families assess financially whether they should choose a staycation instead of a vacation?

One easy way to weigh the cost benefit is to ask yourself, "What could I do with the apx. $200.00 per day that I would be spending on a hotel?" While the local water slide might not be Typhoon Lagoon, you still get wet, hang out with family and friends, and climb a bajillion steps -- at a fraction of the cost of traveling to Orlando (unless you live there, of course!).

Of course, even a staycation will cost money, so make a budget and plan for what you can afford to do (or not). While there are significant savings to be gained by staying home rather than in a hotel and eating breakfast and dinner at home rather than in a restaurant, there will still be admittance fees, incidentals, gas, and food. Also, assess the pros and cons. Perhaps a family can afford one large vacation, but finds that two or three short staycations are much more enjoyable than having to wait all year for that one special week. In this case, the staycation affords the opportunity to do more, more frequently.

Additionally, if you don't have a week or two of vacation time as part of your benefits package at work, the staycation offers an opportunity to get away, just not far, far away!

Are there any psychological drawbacks to a staycation?

Attitude is everything. A staycation should never be seen as an impoverished alternative vacation. Planning is critical -- read up on the local area just the way you would if your were looking at the Visitor's Guide in the hotel room. Let coupons rule the day -- GroupOn and other offers can determine your next step or destination. The biggest psychological pitfall is trying to combine the daily routine with the vacation routine. Let the daily grind go. Refuse the ordinary.

Get yourself in the vacation state of mind. What is your vacation state of mind? Book by the beach? Mud and mountain biking? How can you recreate that locally? Chances are, there is a plethora of fun activities and sites to see that you have driven past on your way out of town.

So, the cliche, "Stop and Smell the Roses" becomes a critical element in truly escaping the mundane and discovering something fun and exciting right in your own back yard!

What are some tips for having a truly relaxing staycation?

Take a true break from the daily routine! One way to put the "vacation" in the "stay" is to set some ground rules for the week. Pretend your house or apartment is truly a hotel. Don't squeeze in an extra chore here and there, pay bills, mow the lawn or plan meals.

Be spontaneous. Stock the fridge with fun foods and snacks before the staycation officially begins. We all tend to "cheat" a little on vacation when it comes to healthy habits, so buy S'Mores supplies, stay in bed a little longer, or get real cream for your coffee. Let your kids drink chocolate milk for breakfast. Make ice cream sundaes!

Billy Bai

Professor and Senior Assistant Dean in the William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration at the University of Nevada Las Vegas
Billy Bai
Are staycations a good money-saving idea?

From a financial standpoint, it is a good money-saving idea to have staycations. The most contributing factor is that such a leisure activity doesn't involve long-distance travel and accommodations.

What activities can families do locally without breaking the bank?

Depending on the family interest and what's available nearby, half a day of hiking or fishing or sports, checking out museums/local unique stores, in combination with cook-out in a local public park, can be a refresher from daily routine.

What is the best time of year to have a staycation?

The beauty of matter is that there’s no peak or low season for a staycation. It can be done any season, any month, any week...

How can families assess financially whether they should choose a staycation instead of a vacation?

Look at how much disposable income you have for the family over the year. A smart family will do multiple staycations and vacations, should family finances allow.

Are there any psychological drawbacks to a staycation?

While a staycation is necessary, it can be perceived as not going anywhere. A hybrid model is to have short trips combining driving and staying over night to deal with such psychological effects.

What are some tips for having a truly relaxing staycation?

It can be instantaneous and bypass the pain of long time planning of a trip. Try to stay away from computers and smartphones because you still have time to work on what you need to do a while later. Take some time to explore what is in the neighborhood within driving distance.

Radesh Palakurthi

Director of The Kemmons Wilson School of Hospitality and Resort Management, and InterContinental Hotel Group Endowed Chair of Excellence at University of Memphis
Radesh Palakurthi
Are staycations a good money-saving idea?

Staycations can be a good money-saving idea for the short-term. However, it is analogue to using a shoe repair store rather than buying a new pair of shoes at a retail store - there are temporary savings, but the latent demand for new shoes goes up with time. When demand rebounds, the previous savings may be more than eradicated. Staycations are not a long-term sustaining idea for both the local businesses and the local consumers. The consumers will eventually want to go beyond the local region after they have exhausted their ideas and their enthusiasm for home-based engagements. The principal suppliers such as museums, zoos, theaters, etc., on the other hand, will also eventually have to go beyond the regional consumers to grow or sustain their businesses.

Research shows that people tend to take “normal vacations” when they feel more confident about their financial future as evidenced by economic indicators such as unemployment rate, disposable income, and GDP growth rate. It is also true that staycations can be as expensive as, or more expensive than normal vacations if the consumers lose sight of the budget and develop a taste for premium products, or engage in unplanned activities or events during the staycation.

What activities can families do locally without breaking the bank?
  • Backyard resort activities – pool and outdoor sports
  • Personal enrichment – reading, writing, arts and crafts, learning music, languages, etc.
  • Physical well-being – spa experiences, gym and training, trampoline, etc.
  • Local activities – Attend culinary and cultural events and activities, theaters and movies, volunteering for causes, etc.
  • Local tours of landmarks and restaurants, etc.
  • Simply chill out – Lazy tours of the couch and the armchair.
What is the best time of year to have a staycation?

It depends on the type of activity. Off seasons would be cheaper but technology is enabling people to find discounts and distressed inventory rates year-round. Tech savvy consumers can find good staycation deals year-round.

Are there any psychological drawbacks to a staycation?

Staycations are not as high up on the bragging rights scale as are normal vacations. The sense of compromise is inevitable, much like chewing gum with the wrapper on.

What are some tips for having a truly relaxing staycation?

Plan for no surprises! There is something magical about feeling like you are on a vacation but you also get to sleep in your own bed. Such feelings can easily be destroyed if adequate research does not go into planning the staycation.
  • Do your research (internal and external): Adequate research needs to be done both internally (within family members and within oneself), and externally (local; area and region) for a great plan to be developed.
    • Matching schedules: The most difficult part may be matching everybody’s schedules to find time for the staycation. It may be easiest to start planning one around known holidays or on weekends when none of the family members have any conflicts. Since schedules change over the long-run, staycations with short lead-times are more successfully accomplished. However, more planning and research will need to be squeezed into a shorter duration.
    • Dig into everyone’s desires: Most successful staycations are those in which each of the family members is able to achieve their individual desires. Find the common desire that may be the target for the staycation. It could be anything from learning more about a local monument, to discovering the local craft beers. The buy-in from everybody will make it more fulfilling for all.
    • Gather relevant local information: Searching the web for details information on the local attractions and events that might fit in with the plans. This will avoid the unexpected disasters of staycations such as, a museum closing for renovation or the restaurant being closed for an ethnic holiday.
    • Leverage technology to save: With the advent of several web-based apps and technologies such as: ecoupons, last-minute-pricing, name-your-own-pricing, flexible date searches, hotel and airline fare alerts, hotel room rate calendars, and special interest subscription alerts are enabling people to find savings for all their desired activities and interests. Moreover, such technologies are enabling people to find discounted pricing year-round, irrespective of the season.
  • Plan and organize:
    • Achieving collective goals: Get everybody involved in the planning and let them have a say. Empowering all family members irrespective of age will make them more excited about the staycation. In the end, not much more than the weather should be the uncertain factor for the staycation.
    • Develop a budget: Consider all aspects of the staycation.
    • Have some ground rules; Make some rules - eliminate daily chores (not doing laundry or dishes), routines (checking, mail or emails, etc.), and daily rituals (no green tea in the morning, etc.). The goal is to break the routine to make the staycation special.
Have a vacation mindset:
  • Prepare for the days: Make the bookings, reservations, etc. ahead of time to give the sense of a real vacation.
  • Build excitement: Build excitement by doing a daily countdown with the family. Share the value and the importance of the staycation for the family.
Resist temptations:
  • Take the work out: Make sure nobody slips into the work mode by answering emails, or phone class. Hide or turn-off all the devices, if needed.
  • Remember the plan: Remind each other about the purpose of the staycation repeatedly, to stick to the goals.
Reevaluate for future: Soon after the staycation, the family should get together to assess the positives and the negatives. This will give them ideas for a better staycation planning the next time they find time to do it.

Denis P. Rudd

Professor of Hospitality and Tourism Management, and Director of Hospitality Management at Robert Morris University
Denis P. Rudd
Are staycations a good money-saving idea?

Great idea if you do it the right way: no phones, no TV, no radio, no papers. Think of the money you spend on a vacation in airfare, cars, buses, trains, admission fees, etc.

What activities can families do locally without breaking the bank?

We just took a trip to Las Vegas for a family of four for five days and it cost $4000. Next month we’re ready to go to rivers, come home and stay the night, go to the Meadows, then come home and stay the night, go to Erie, to Prescott Isles then came home stay the night - this will cost a lot less than 4000 dollars.

What is the best time of year to have a staycation?

Depending upon when you have your vacation and the kids and your friends and relatives, most vacations trips are taken during the summer; while a staycation can be taken at any time.

How can families assess financially whether they should choose a staycation instead of a vacation?

Staycations were really big from ninth of 2008 on, because of the recession. Now, people are heading towards vacations - traffic, airports congestion, crowded conditions, etc.

Are there any psychological drawbacks to a staycation?

I've heard some people complain that it is not truly a vacation, that in order for it to be a vacation you have to go away. A staycation can be a vacation anytime I have my family and friends with me.

The biggest drawback is the fact that you're close to your employment and you may be tempted to go in and work. You do have easy access to your emails, to your phones and this can be very distracting, whether business or social. You need a set of rules.

What are some tips for having a truly relaxing staycation?

Go to the pool, go to the beach, go shopping, take a nap, a little cruise, like Conley's riverboats, play tennis, play golf, play baseball, play badminton, read a book... I play golf and use the pool, walk in the woods, go out at night and look at the stars. Go to your local restaurant, go for breakfast, go for lunch, go for dinner - any number of things are available for you to do, and cost you a lot less than going on a vacation.

John Bowen

Dean of Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, and Barron Hilton Distinguished Chair at University of Houston
John Bowen
Are staycations a good money-saving idea?

They are a good money-saving idea for those who are able to relax at home or near their home. But they are not for everyone; some people look forward to the adventure of exploring a new destination.

What activities can families do locally without breaking the bank?

Depending on the area, there are many activities. It could be having a cookout in a local park, going to a movie together and then going out to eat, biking or hiking – the opportunities are endless. Most regions will have local guides to activities.

What is the best time of year to have a staycation?

For families with children in school, it has to be a period when school is not in session.

For those without children in school, a good time to go can be when school is in session. This is especially true if there are local tourist attractions; hotels at these locations will be less expensive and the area will be less crowded. The downside can be that some of the services in the resort may not be available.

How can families assess financially whether they should choose a staycation instead of a vacation?

If the thought of spending thousands of dollars on a vacation makes you anxious, then try a staycation; a well-planned stay.

What are some tips for having a truly relaxing staycation?

First, remember the word staycation combines staying at home with vacation. Do not forget the vacation part of staycation. A staycation should be relaxing, stress free and allow you to recharge, the same as vacation away from home.

Second, set a budget, which you feel comfortable spending, and spend it! If you are staying at home you are saving on a hotel room and travel expenses. So enjoy that nice restaurant you have always wanted to try, find entertainment in town and make an evening of it by going out before and/or after the event, take a day trip to places around you that seem interesting. Plan activities that you will enjoy and take your mind away from your daily routine.

Originally staycations meant staying at home, now they term has been expanded to include vacations in your area, which include a hotel stay. Staying nearby relieves the stress and expense of a long trip. It can add relaxation and the experience of staying in a new environment. If you commute, stay downtown and explore the attractions of a major city – something many commuters never fully experience. Going to a local beach, lake or park with an overnight stay results in a very different experience than a day trip. So another recommendation would be to consider a staycation that includes a hotel stay.

Stephanie G. Hein

Professor of Hospitality and Restaurant Administration at Missouri State University
Stephanie G. Hein
Are staycations a good money-saving idea?

Staycations allow you to save money on traditional transportation expenses you may realize on the traditional vacation experience. The money saved on these experiences can then be directed to vacation activities. You may be able to experience more on a staycation because you have freed up money to take advantage of all of the “fun” your city has to offer.

What activities can families do locally without breaking the bank?

Getting out into the great outdoors is an excellent way to take a break from the daily grind and recharge you batteries with little to know cost. Utilize your local parks system and state conservation sites to find options for great day hikes and outdoor adventures. Your area Convention and Tourism Bureau (CVB) is also a great resource for finding fun activities for your family. CVB websites typically have information on your city’s year-around attractions, as well as one-time events. For example, the CVB in my city has webpages dedicated to “Things to Do” and “Day Trips” that can help in planning your staycation activities. Many of the recommendations are no or lost activities.

What is the best time of year to have a staycation?

The best time of year to take a staycation is really dependent on your capability to take a vacation. Even if you take vacation during peak travel season, staycations allow you to save money on peak airfare and hotel prices. That being said, if you schedule your staycation during peak travel season, you still need to be mindful that others will be traveling to your city for their family vacations and crowds may be a factor at some attraction. The advantage that you have as a “staycationer” is the inside knowledge of peak and slow times at your local attractions giving you the ability to schedule your activities accordingly.

What are some tips for having a truly relaxing staycation?

Our daily lives are busy, even chaotic, with the demands of work and family. Sometimes just spending time at home is the great luxury we can experience. In order to truly relax on your staycation, make a concerted effort to disconnect from work during your time off. Put the out-of-office reply on your email and avoid letting the office draw you back into the work mindset.

To make the most out of your staycation, build a trip itinerary just like you would do if you were traveling out-of-town. Day one might be spa day while day two could be a trip to your local zoo.

The key is determining what it is you would really like to do during your week home that you typically do not get to do when work and family obligations fill your schedule. For me, waking up without an alarm, sipping coffee on my deck, and reading a book for fun (not work) is a true luxury and is a start to a day I try to build into my own staycation itinerary.

Samantha Rozier Rich

Lead Researcher and Owner at enRiched Consulting, LLC, and Adjunct Professor of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management at North Carolina State University
Samantha Rozier Rich
Are staycations a good money-saving idea?

First, let’s define what we mean by staycation. A staycation typically refers to travel and leisure activities close to home. Staycations allow locals to become tourists in their own town. Often we forget how many fun and interesting places exist in our own cities, towns, and counties.

Depending upon the chosen activities, a staycation can be a good money-saving strategy. Like any vacation, know your family (wants, needs, likes, dislikes, abilities, interests, schedules, etc.) and know your budget. Staycations can range from simple and free to lavish and expensive. Staycations can include activities such as…
  • Scavenger hunt
  • DIY outdoor games (Pinterest has some great ideas)
  • Board game night or puzzles
  • Local and national parks
  • Hiking or walking
  • Bike riding
  • Watching a movie (at home, movie theater, drive-in theater)
  • Paintball
  • Laser tag
  • Museums – many offer free admission days
  • Putt-putt or mini-golf or golfing
  • Zoo
  • Flashlight tag
  • Aquarium
  • Children’s museum
  • Bowling
  • Picnic (outdoor or indoor)
  • Camping (outdoor or indoor)
  • Rock climbing (outdoor or indoor)
  • New restaurants
  • Cooking class
  • Geocaching
  • Amusement parks
  • Dinner theater
  • Local theater or concert venue
  • Library events
  • Sporting events – minor and major leagues
  • Factory tours
  • Brewery or winery tours
  • Swimming – waterpark, area pool, beach, lake, river
  • Stay in a local B&B or hotel
  • Festivals and events
  • Skate park
  • Spa day
  • Local farm
  • Blockparty BBQ with the neighbors
  • Volunteer in your community
  • Just walk around your downtown and see what there is to discover!
What are some tips for having a truly relaxing staycation? What activities can families do locally without breaking the bank?

Regardless of whether you are taking a vacation or staycation, poor planning and unreal expectations can lead to disappointment and stress. Plan a staycation the same way you would any vacation. The manner and depth in which we plan our vacations differs for each person and family.

To get started, research your home location as if you were a tourist. Start by checking out your local Convention and Visitor Bureau, Tourism Destination Authority, and/or Chamber of Commerce for visitor guides and calendar of events. Search the Internet for things to do, places to eat, day trips, and staycation ideas in your hometown and surrounding areas.

What is the best time of year to have a staycation?

Any time of year is a good time for a staycation. Similar to planning a traditional vacation, choosing the best time of year for a staycation depends upon activities of interest, weather, and available time.

How can families assess financially whether they should choose a staycation instead of a vacation?

Knowing your family’s needs and budget restrictions will help in assessing if a staycation or traditional vacation is best.

Are there any psychological drawbacks to a staycation?

Regardless of whether you are taking a vacation or staycation, poor planning and unreal expectations can lead to disappointment. Plan a staycation the same way you would any vacation. Even though you are home/close to home, be sure to treat this like a “real” vacation – take time off from work/school.

David Kaufman

Director of the Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Program at University of Vermont, Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources
David Kaufman
Are staycations a good money-saving idea?

They can be, but there are plenty of people who stay home for vacation, but also enhance their "stay" with new swimming pools, spas, backyard basketball courts, new camping gear to camp locally, new fishing tackle, new golf clubs and a country club membership, etc. You get the idea! It is also possible to enjoy a staycation by simply relxing in your own lawn chairs, walking or riding on local recreation paths, etc.

Thus, a staycation may or may not mean big savings, depending on the approach and goals for the individual, couple, or family. Obviously, once "new stuff" is purchased for staying home, the next staycation is a lot more cost efficient!

What activities can families do locally without breaking the bank?

Turn off the electronics! Of course, the same can be said for a destination vacation! Other than to check on family members back home, electronics tend to reduce relaxation and add stress, especially if business emails are answered...but then again, if they are ignored for vacation, no matter where, there is greater stress upon one's return to the office. It is hard to win!

Another tip for a staycation, since the surroundings are familiar, is to leave much of the time flexible to do absolutely anything you want, except perhaps local concert tickets, etc. For any vacation, keeping a lighter schedule adds to relaxation!

What is the best time of year to have a staycation?

In general, there are more outdoor options in the warmer seasons than in the colder seasons. Therefore, late spring through summer, when the kids are on school break, is likely the best time to enjoy a staycation. And, you can avoid the crowds that typically are found in popular destinations during the warm seasons.

How can families assess financially whether they should choose a staycation instead of a vacation?

It is basically mathematics! Destination vacations, short or long, should be planned at least somewhat in advance to properly determine the cost of travel (air, car, etc.), accommodations, meal allowance, entertainment and activities, etc. It is relatively simple to figure out the estimated cost. If a family can determine the cost, determine that it is within budget, then be happy when comparing the proposed travel with other family priorities before making the commitment, then a destination vacation is probably in the cards.

There are many variables, such as distance, length of stay, expensive attractions (Disney), that can drive costs very high, so planning will determine whether a destination vacation is the responsible choice.

I am a firm believer that a destination vacation should not result in credit card bills that cannot be paid off when the bill comes!

Are there any psychological drawbacks to a staycation?

Sure; lots of folks like to "get away", or believe they need to get away to relieve stress or "re-energize" and that is not easy to do without leaving town!

Never venturing from a home area also narrows a person's understanding of the rest of the world. Cultural awareness and experience is important in an ever more diverse world and one of the great opportunities of a vacation is to see, experience, and learn how people from elsewhere live, whether in the next state, across the country, or across the ocean!

What are some tips for having a truly relaxing staycation?

Turn off the electronics! Of course, the same can be said for a destination vacation! Other than to check on family members back home, electronics tend to reduce relaxation and add stress, especially if business emails are answered...but then again, if they are ignored for vacation, no matter where, there is greater stress upon one's return to the office. It is hard to win!

Another tip for a staycation, since the surroundings are familiar, is to leave much of the time flexible to do absolutely anything you want, except perhaps local concert tickets, etc. For any vacation, keeping a lighter schedule adds to relaxation!

Lisa T. Fall, APR

Professor of Advertising & Public Relations at University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Lisa T. Fall, APR
Are staycations a good money-saving idea?

Absolutely! You don’t have to allocate money to spend on overnight accommodations and travel (such as gas and airfare). Also, you can re-distribute the funds you are saving on other purchases (such as admissions to special attractions, etc.) Like anything else, if you budget accordingly and don’t vacation beyond your financial means, you should be in good shape.

What activities can families do locally without breaking the bank?

Plan ahead of time – just like you would for a regular vacation. Let colleagues, employees and clients know that you will be out-of-pocket on vacation. And plan to unplug: don’t check emails, don’t plant to engage in social media, don’t take work-related phone calls, etc. Also, don’t try to cram in too much during a short period of time. I think we sometimes over-plan and over-extend ourselves while on vacation, which can really wear you out – physically and psychologically.

What is the best time of year to have a staycation?

Timing depends on what you want to personally get out of your staycation. For example, if you live in a tourist destination area – and you want to enjoy some rest and relaxation – then you should plan for your visit during the off-season. Conversely, if you want to have a visitor’s experience, then do plan to travel during peak season (such as during the summer months when many families take their vacations). Also, be honest with yourself about your career peaks and values. If fall or spring is really taxing for you professionally, then consider staycatioining during the summer or winter months.

How can families assess financially whether they should choose a staycation instead of a vacation?

You should plan to budget for your staycation just like you would for a traditional vacation. Keep in mind that you will be saving on overnight accommodations and travel (such as gas if driving or airfare if flying). However, these expenses can be offset by a plethora of things – such as eating out, admissions fees to events and attractions. In short, you should plan to travel within your financial means – regardless if you are traveling cross-country or across-town.

Are there any psychological drawbacks to a staycation?

Actually, the biggest drawback I see is that you might not truly feel like you went on a vacation – since you didn’t “leave town.” So, I suggest that you get into the travel planning mindset for your staycation. Get the family jazzed up and excited. Plan to engage in some fun and exciting excursions and events. Eat at restaurants where you wouldn’t normally choose to dine. One of the benefits to staycations is that you may feel even more refreshed after the fact – since you diminished the hassle of travel time and energy to somewhere outside of where you reside. Plus, you don’t have to pre-plan for some many details (having someone mow your lawn, retrieve your mail, watch your pet, etc.)

What are some tips for having a truly relaxing staycation?

The best advice I can share is to unplug and unwind! Don’t be chained to your laptop, cell phone and other mobile devices. Let your social media go for a while. Enjoy your time away from having to be accountable to others. Also, do approach your staycation as a vacation that you deserve – regardless if you are traveling cross-country or across-town!

Mark Bonn

Robert H. Dedman Professor of Services Management at Florida State University, College of Business
Mark Bonn
Are staycations a good money-saving idea?

Yes. Stay-cations became popular right after the millennium when families were cocooning, and not traveling. After 9/11, many people were very uneasy about travel. Plus, we were heading into a short recession around that same time. And so, local destinations began to market directly towards their own residents to replace what they were missing from the historical travel market segments. Staycations became a great money-saving strategy for consumers. Larger destination areas found this to be especially rewarding, because consumers feel as though they are experiencing a different region or area due to the distance separating perhaps where they actually live from where they are deciding to spend time nearby.

At first, many attractions, museums and other venues were reluctant to engage local residents using deep discount strategies but it turned out to be a great situation because as the economy improved, the local residents became unpaid sales advocates for these restaurants, hotels, attractions, theme parks, and museums.

What activities can families do locally without breaking the bank?

Today, the most reasonable activities cost-wise are those involving environmental/outdoor opportunities. For instance, a day of kayaking is a very low cost low investment but considered to be a high-quality experience, and one which provides high family bonding time. Other similar activities involving biking or hiking are very entertaining high-quality low-cost activities.

Local state parks and national parks are also very economical staycation ideas.

What is the best time of year to have a staycation?

That depends on where you are located geographically. Weather is certainly the most important consideration because people like to do activities wherever they are when the weather is optimal for doing so. So warmer weather destinations often times promote indoor activities that are air-conditioned, and climate controlled. Each season of the year has its challenges so select your activities based upon what the optimal time weather will allow you to have the best experience.

How can families assess financially whether they should choose a staycation instead of a vacation?

Family should consider purchasing annual or seasonal passes to regional attractions. Even the larger theme parks in Florida have developed this strategy many years ago and it works well for them. Consumers are able to quickly calculate the numbers of occasions they must use the passes to be able to break even on their investment. And so after that point, the activity becomes perceived as a free, or certainly a low-cost amenity.

Although gas prices are starting to rise, they are still at historical lows and traveling by auto is the most reasonable and economical mode of travel in the US. Combined with discounted passes, along with reasonably priced gas at the pumps, and packing your own food and beverage for a day trip, traveling by car is a much more economical alternative for any size family day outing!

Are there any psychological drawbacks to a staycation?

Not really. There are always very educational lessons to be taken away from any quality experience regardless of where it's located. Nature-based activities, including coastal zone and wilderness areas, are filled with science lessons. Museums offer high quality, passive educational experiences involving history, art, music, religion, sustainability, science, etc.

Psychologically, staycations can be used as a means for self-enrichment while simultaneously learning about how special and how much your area actually offers to its residents as well as its visitors.

What are some tips for having a truly relaxing staycation?

Tips for having a relaxing staycation are similar to any well-planned trip:
  1. Prepare a realistic itinerary. Calculate travel time to and from each activity, along with the on-site time investment you are willing to make.
  2. Research each activity prior to the visit. Determine whether or not parking issues such as proximity to the entrance of the facility from the parking area or if shuttle services are provided, because this could be problematic, especially if you're traveling with small children, or when older relatives are in the travel party.
  3. Inquire about dining options and food costs to determine if other options may be available such as being allowed to bring in your own food and beverage for those extended-stay experiences.
  4. Determine if the activity is a good fit for your travel party. These decisions ultimately must be enjoyable for everyone of all ages.
  5. Select your activities based upon the entire day and try to build your itinerary upon day parts which provide opportunities that are fairly close together from each other.

Jennifer Redinger

Assistant Professor of Hospitality Management at State University of New York at Delhi
Jennifer Redinger
Are staycations a good money-saving idea?

Yes

What activities can families do locally without breaking the bank?

RVing, skiing, camping, outdoor activities, amusement park packages, go in together with other families to rent a vacation home.

What is the best time of year to have a staycation?

If you have children of school age, the best two times are Winter Break & Summer Break.

How can families assess financially whether they should choose a staycation instead of a vacation?

It is important to do a budget for any vacation. A cost comparison between an "away" vacation and a "staycation" is the best way to see where there would be savings. You would be surprised that sometimes it is more cost effective to go on an "away" vacation - depending on flight and hotel deals.

Are there any psychological drawbacks to a staycation?

If you choose a staycation you may feel as though you "worked" the whole time, or that you did not even get away from your day to day routine.

Michelle Millar

Assistant Professor of Hospitality Management at University of San Francisco, School of Management
Michelle Millar
Are staycations a good money-saving idea?

They can definitely be a good money-saving idea, depending upon what one does during that staycation. For example, taking day trips and using home as the "hotel", can save money on accommodations and food. If one stays home in order to do some needed work around the house, that work can become costly.

What activities can families do locally without breaking the bank?
  • Picnics and bike rides at local parks and reservoirs;
  • A day at the beach;
  • Free local concerts in the parks during the summer months;
  • Museums.
What is the best time of year to have a staycation?

This will depend on activities that families like to do. If they like winter activities, then the winter would be best. Also, it may be a good idea to have a staycation during those times of years when it's typically expensive to travel, e.g., around the holidays.

Are there any psychological drawbacks to a staycation?

I'm not sure about this, but perhaps not feeling as if one got a true "vacation" away. But some feel that way after they return from a long trip away!

What are some tips for having a truly relaxing staycation?

Avoiding the aforementioned "work around the house"! Sleep in, turn of electronics, try to get away from your normal daily routines, and pretend as if you're waking up in a new place each day. Have planned activities that take you to new and different places around your home town.

Methodology

To help Americans find the most suitable staycation spots in the U.S., WalletHub analyzed the 100 most populated U.S. cities across three key dimensions: Recreation Activities, Food & Entertainment and Rest & Relaxation. We then identified 17 key metrics that are relevant to those dimensions. Our data set is listed below with the corresponding weight for each metric.

Please note that “city” refers to city proper and excludes surrounding metro areas.

Recreation Activities – Total Weight: 5

  • Number of Public Golf Courses per 100,000 Residents: Full Weight
  • Number of Tennis Courts per 100,000 Residents: Full Weight
  • Number of Parks per 100,000 Residents: Full Weight
  • Miles of Bicycle Lanes, Paths & Routes per Square Mile: Half Weight
  • Number of Shopping Centers per 100,000 Residents: Full Weight

Food & Entertainment – Total Weight: 5

  • Movie Costs: Half Weight
  • Bowling Costs: Half Weight
  • Number of Nightlife Options per 100,000 Residents: Full Weight
  • Number of Museums per 100,000 Residents: Half Weight
  • Number of Zoos and Aquariums per 100,000 Residents: Half Weight
  • Number of Cultural Attractions (Theater & Concerts) per 100,000 Residents: Half Weight
  • Prevalence of Affordable 4.5+ Star Restaurants: Half Weight

Rest & Relaxation – Total Weight: 5

  • Number of Swimming Pools per 100,000 Residents: Full Weight
  • Cost of Maid Service: Full Weight
  • Number of Wellness & Spa Centers per 100,000 Residents: Half Weight
  • Beauty Salon Costs: Half Weight
  • WalletHub “Summer Weather” Ranking: Full Weight

 

Source: Data used to create these rankings were obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Council for Community and Economic Research, the Trust for Public Land, the Alliance for Biking & Walking, Tripadvisor, Yelp, Golf, ImproveNet, and WalletHub Research.

Author

User
John Kiernan is Senior Writer & Editor at Evolution Finance. He graduated from the University of Maryland with a BA in Journalism, a minor in Sport Commerce & Culture,…
1564 Wallet Points

Discussion

 
May 30, 2015
No matter how they configure the rules of this survey, anyone who would rank New York City at 65th for Entertainment and Food should go back into the sanitarium and stop bothering normal folks. Placing Buffalo above any of the other cities listed where one should want to spend their vacation time when they already live and work there constitutes a special type of cruelty, which, if it isn't already, should be forbidden by law. read more
Reply Delete Flag
 
Nov 23, 2014
How the hell do cities like Newark, Fort Wayne and NYC have better weather than
San Jose, California. very flawed survey I M O.
Reply Delete Flag
 
Jun 18, 2014
And some of this information is moot if a person's version of a staycation is staying at home and fixing up the place or knocking around the garage working on a favorite antique car. Our favorite staycations are mostly doing things never mentioned in the article and thus unmeasured. In addition we've camped, hiked, biked, and visited shops and restaurants we have never been to right here in our little town. We like being outdoors read more
Reply Delete Flag
 
Jun 10, 2014
I call BS! Who needs more than one World Famous Zoo, like San Diego? Buffalo is hot and muggy in the summer. Our big tourist trip was to the falls, picnics at Ellicott Creek Park, big deal!!! I was born there and moved when the blizzards got to be too much for my parents we moved to San Diego. What better place to staycation than a warm sunny beach, more types of restaurants than you read more
Reply Delete Flag
 
By: Elleb15
Jun 7, 2014
I strongly oppose the methodology used in this assessment. I've lived in 7 of these cities and the reality of living there and the staycation options is much different than what you're proposing. Less than 10% of Americans play golf and of those 80% are men. The percent who play tennis is even smaller but is close to 50-50 men & women. The per capita thing isn't relevant either. If you want it to be read more
Reply Delete Flag
 
Jun 6, 2014
Oakland has the 69th best weather and 66th best food?
Spent much time in California, wallethub?
(Here ya go: http://www.weather.com/weather/tenday/Oakland+International+Airport+CA+OAK:9)
Reply Delete Flag
 
By: Ags123
Jun 5, 2014
Not sure why Dallas ranks above Houston. Houston's museums, performing arts and dining are superior in quality and quantity. Houston has more culture, more history (more historical architecture, the Battle of San Jacinto site where Texas gained its independence, the Battleship Texas, NASA Mission Control/Space Center Houston), is a short drive from Galveston/Moody Gardens/Boardwalk (if you include cities within a 40 mile radius like Dallas always does for its stats). Dallas might have better weather read more
Reply Delete Flag
 
Jun 5, 2014
ok, so you didn't include nice beaches in your methodology for nice places for summer vacations, but you included BIKE PATHS?!?!
Reply Delete Flag
 
By: Relhab
Jun 5, 2014
Indianapolis should rank far, far higher than #41 on this list. As New Englanders and New Yorkers discovered during the Super Bowl in 2012, Indy has much to offer. Live theatre and music venues, restaurants and nightlife, professional sporting events, museums and a state park - all within easy walking distance downtown! As one who has lived in more than a dozen states and major metro areas, Indianapolis has to rank as one of my read more
 
Jun 5, 2014
@relhab: superbowl is during winter. they are pretending to compare summer spots, and their methodology is weird.
Reply Delete Flag
 
By: Alexg2
Jun 11, 2014
In all due respect, Indy is featureless and landlocked, i.e. not typically what one looks for in a vacation spot. In addition, its dining scene (dominated by chain restaurants) and places that seem to close by 7pm, leaves much to be desired. Crime has also been an issue as of late for residents. The bottom line is that Indy is an affordable place and I also like its children's museum. However, i would actually place read more
Reply Delete Flag
 
By: Relhab
Jun 12, 2014
18 of the top 25 cities on this list are landlocked, so clearly that is not a barrier to being a great place to vacation or staycation - or better yet, to live. Also, your claim that Indy basically closes down at 7pm couldn't be further form the truth. As a major convention city, downtown Indy is lively every night as thousands of locals as well as visitors explore the restaurants, bars, live entertainment venues, read more
Reply Delete Flag