12 Budget Friendly Staycation Ideas

Are you longing to take a vacation, but not sure that you have the time or money for it?  Save money this year, pay down some bills to get your credit back on track, and take a budget friendly staycation instead.  These staycation ideas will help you feel like you are still getting away from the everyday grind—even though you aren’t traveling that far!

This post has been sponsored by Lexington Law. Please know that all opinions are mine alone and are honestly conveyed.

Want to take a vacation, but don't have the time or money? Try these 12 Budget Friendly Staycation Ideas. #staycation #budgetvacation #staycationideas

12 Budget Friendly Staycation Ideas

Take a day at the museum

The Association of Science-Technology Centers offers a program that allows you to visit science centers and museums around the country for free for an entire year, with the purchase of a membership.  This can be a great source of educational and fun entertainment for you and your family this summer.  Over 250 science centers and museums are part of the program.  Although you will have to plan where you buy your membership, because you cannot use it at other science centers or museums within 90 miles of the center which you are a member of or within 90 miles of your residence.

Want to take a vacation, but don't have the time or money? Try these 12 Budget Friendly Staycation Ideas. #staycation #budgetvacation #staycationideas

Visit a national park

While many national parks are free to visit, some are not—unless you have a fourth grader in the family.  Every Kid in a Park is a unique program that offers fourth graders and their family’s free access to national parks and sites around the country for free!  You may even want to check out Recreation.gov and search some of the cool places to go in your own state that are very affordable or free, such as campgrounds, tours, parks, or landmarks.

Go to the movies

Taking the entire family to the movies can get expensive—unless you take advantage of summer movie clubs.  Cinemark and Regal both offer an extensive list of movies throughout the summer for kids—and admission for kids and adults is only $1!  If you plan on going to all of them, you can buy a pass and save even more on admission.  There are also snack specials so you can save big on getting a popcorn and soda too!

Go to a drive-in movie

While they are not as popular as they used to be, taking the entire family to a drive-in move can be a lot of fun—and quite affordable!  Instead of paying per ticket, you pay per vehicle, so your entire family gets to watch the movie for one low price!

Visit a lighthouse

There are several lighthouses across the country that are not only beautiful, but are rich in history.  Of course, the coastal states have several lighthouses, but you might find that one of the lighthouses on the Great Lakes is much closer to home.

Go canoeing/rafting

When you think of going canoeing or rafting, you may imagine braving the whitewater rapids (which I would definitely recommend going with a guide!), but there are several rivers all across the country that are much calmer and allow self-guided rides down the river.  This is a great way to get out into nature, get some exercise, and still be able to relax.

Want to take a vacation, but don't have the time or money? Try these 12 Budget Friendly Staycation Ideas. #staycation #budgetvacation #staycationideas

Visit national monuments

Did you know that there are national monuments located in 31 states throughout the country?  Take a look at this National Monument map to find out where the closest ones are to you.  Most are free to visit and you may just learn a bit about our country’s history too!

Go to the beach or lake

If you happen to live close enough to drive to the beach for the day, you can truly feel the relaxation of a beach vacation for the day.  Of course, not everyone lives by the coast… but you probably can find a local campground, lake or park that can offer some fun in the sun and water.  Do a little research ahead of time and you will find that many parks and campgrounds offer waterslides, swimming and other water sports at very affordable rates.

day trip to the beach

Visit a local campground

Besides roughing it for the weekend in a tent—or even unplugging and staying in a rustic cabin—campgrounds offer quite a bit more.  Many offer day passes to come and enjoy all of the activities, without actually staying.  You will find that many campgrounds have a lake for swimming or canoeing, but you can also go hiking, bike riding, go-kart riding, mini-golfing, or even horseback riding.  Call ahead or check online for special pricing for groups or packages.

Day trips

Sometimes we take for granted the area that we live in and don’t recognize all of the great things around us because we are so busy doing all of the daily routine things.  A staycation is a great time to take a fresh look at what there is to do within a couple hour drive of where you live—you might be surprised at the interesting things you find!  Do a quick internet search or even contact some a local visitors bureaus for the best suggestions.

Take the kids bowling

Did you know that your kids can go bowling for free all summer long?  Just sign your child up at Kids Bowl Free and you will get coupons emailed to you each week.  Times will vary by location, but many bowling alleys nationwide are a part of this program, so you might just find that you have this free activity close to home.

Taking the kids bowling is a fun and cheap staycation idea! #staycationidea #kidsbowlfree #kidsactivities #familyfun

Host a potluck cookout

Okay, maybe you don’t have the money to take a trip to Hawaii this year, but you can host a little luau party with some of your closest friends and bring the island feel to your own backyard.  There are great decorations for themed parties, such as a luau, at your local dollar store or discount party center.  Just because you host doesn’t mean that everyone expects you to make all the food—ask guests to bring their favorite side dish or dessert to share.  And don’t forget the island music.  If you have a smartphone you can probably find the perfect music for your back yard party on a free app, such as Pandora.

11 Ways to Save Money on Your Next Beach Vacation

Are you planning a family vacation to the beach, but feel limited because you are on a budget? Don’t worry. Here are some simple summer savings tips for taking a great and cheap beach vacation. Try these 11 ways to save money on your next beach vacation.

This post has been sponsored by Lexington Law.  Please know that all opinions are mine alone and are honestly conveyed.

11 Ways to Save on Your Next Beach vacation // Money Savvy Living #beach #vacation #budgettravel #frugaltravel #travel #cheapvacation #summer #simplesummersavings #lexingtonlaw

Avoid peak season

June, July, and early August are definitely peak season when it comes to going to the beach.  If you don’t mind waiting until later in the season, you can still have an awesome beach vacation that will save you some money and may be a little less crowded.  With school starting back in early to mid-August in many states, you may see a drop in prices even starting in late August.  Depending on what beach you are planning to visit, you can still find warm enough waters for swimming even into early autumn.


Related post: Fun in the Sun at Marco Island

Check out last-minute deals

If you don’t have your heart set on a specific location and have flexibility with your schedule, you can check out last-minute deals from airlines or travel websites, and may be able to take advantage of great savings for a spontaneous trip.  Hotels and airlines want to fill every room at the resort or every seat on an airplane—and that can mean giving a deep discount to get those last few spots filled.  You can sign up to receive email or text notification on deals from hotel chains, airlines, or even specific airports to find out when last-minute deals are available.

Go off the beaten path

Staying at the five-star oceanfront resort at a popular beach destination is going to cost you a pretty penny.  If you are willing to stay at a hotel a couple of miles from the action, you will still be close to all the tourist attractions, but you will save big-time money!  Of course, you have to be willing to give up the ocean view room and be willing to walk a little more…

Take beach necessities with you

Don’t fall into the tourist trap money pit when it comes to buying vacation necessities.  When you are planning to go to the beach, make sure that you buy things ahead of time that you know you will need, such as: sunglasses, sun screen, beach towels, sand buckets and shovels, arm floaties for your kids, and boogie boards for riding the waves.  And don’t forget to take a little first aid bag too with antibiotic ointment, waterproof bandages, and some ibuprofen.  While these aren’t “beach” necessities, you may find that you need them.  These things will all be much cheaper at your local discount store rather than buying them at the hotel gift shop or souvenir shop at the beach, where you can expect to pay a premium.

Bring a cooler with you

When planning your day at the beach, make sure you take plenty of drinks, snacks, and even lunch with you.  Like any tourist area, you will definitely pay a little extra for drinks and food—and if you are buying food and drinks for the entire family all day, that could really add up.  Besides saving money, it is really nice to have somewhere to store your drinks and snacks to keep them cold when you are out in the hot sun all day.

Pack your own chairs and umbrella

It really can be just as expensive to rent chairs and an umbrella for the day as it is to just buy them, and then you will have them available every time you go to the beach.  Make sure to buy chairs that are functional at the beach, as well as ones that can be used for camping, taking to sporting events, or even just in your own back yard for relaxing.

11 Ways to Save on Your Next Beach vacation // Money Savvy Living #beach #vacation #budgettravel #frugaltravel #travel #cheapvacation #summer #simplesummersavings #lexingtonlaw

Use a mesh laundry bag for toys and forgo the expensive tote

While an oversized tote can make a very fashionable beach bag, you will save money if you just bring all your beach necessities in a mesh laundry bag…and it is practical too.  If you are bringing things like toys for the kids or collecting seashells, just toss them back in the mesh bag at the end of the day and the sand will all fall out rather than gathering in the bottom of your tote.

Visit chamber of commerce or visitor’s bureau website

Want to know about all the local tips and tricks?  These websites will offer a plethora of information when it comes to local events, discounts, activities, entertainment, and attractions.  Each city wants to promote the very best of what they have to offer—and talking with the professionals at these local agencies will give you a lot of insight.  You may even be able to find some hidden gems that truly showcase the local flair.


Related post: 7 Family Friendly Things to do at Virginia Beach that are Absolutely FREE

Look for coupons

Websites such as Groupon offers deals on restaurants, entertainment, goods, and services… almost anything that you are looking for!  So if you are planning on visiting a beach, take a quick look at some of the local offers for whatever area you will be vacationing.  For savings on beach activities, just enter in your location and search for anything that you might be interested in, such as a dolphin cruise, paddle boarding, or surfing lessons.  Of course, you will probably be able to find deals on hotels and local restaurants here too.

Don’t forget to ask for discounts

Many hotels, restaurants, and attractions will offer discounts for certain groups, such as: AAA, senior citizen, military/veteran, teachers, or corporate.  Even if you don’t know which discount to ask for specifically, you can ask about discounts that they offer and they can work with you to figure out which discount would give you the best deal.  If possible ask about these ahead of time.  To qualify for most discounts you need to present verification, so make sure to pack your identification, badge, or membership card.

Notify your credit card companies

Calling your credit card company can make your vacation go much smoother.  The last thing that you want to happen is to find out that there is a stop on your credit card because your account has been flagged for possible fraudulent activity—especially if you plan on using a specific credit card to redeem points toward travel purchases.  Of course, hopefully you are already monitoring and tracking your credit, but taking this extra step will ensure that your credit cards will work just fine while you are on vacation—and allow you to save a little bit extra.

11 Ways to Save on Your Next Beach vacation // Money Savvy Living #beach #vacation #budgettravel #frugaltravel #travel #cheapvacation #summer #simplesummersavings #lexingtonlaw



7 Things You Must Do in Colonial Williamsburg

Travel back in time to colonial America at Williamsburg, Virginia.  With cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages, and colonial music, featuring fifes and drums, being performed in the street, you will experience a vacation like no other—and even learn a few things about our country’s history along the way.  You can even tour historic buildings and colonial shops to see what life in early America was really like.  On your next trip, here are 7 things you must do in colonial Williamsburg.
Colonial Williamsburg: 7 Things You must do on Your Next Visit // Money Savvy Living

Colonial Williamsburg Regional Visitor Center

The Colonial Williamsburg Regional Visitor Center is a great place to start, especially if you aren’t familiar with the area.  You can talk with knowledgeable professionals about all of the local attractions, bus schedules, and special events.  You are also able to get tickets here for America’s Historic Triangle—Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown.

This is also a good starting point, especially if you don’t happen to be staying within walking distance of the historic district.  You are able to park here for the day and take a shuttle bus to the historic district, find out about all events that are going on, get tickets for certain attractions, and even enjoy some shopping.

A stop here wouldn’t be complete without the kids trying on the colonial style tricorne hats…Williamsburg: A Colonial Adventure // Money Savvy Living


The Historic District of Colonial Williamsburg

When you think of colonial America, all of the images that your imagination may conjure up can probably be found in the Historic District of Colonial Williamsburg—cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages, colonial musicians, and plenty of townspeople in full colonial garb at each of the colonial shops.  Your family can visit everything from a colonial candle-maker to a shoemaker, a weaver, or even a silversmith’s shop and see how things were made over 200 years ago.

Williamsburg: A Colonial Adventure // Money Savvy Living

Duke of Gloucester Street is the main street where you can find most of the tourist and historic sites, although there are more places to visit just north of Duke of Gloucester Street.  What was really great about the Historic District is that everything is within walking distance—although you will be walking a few miles by the time you take in all the sights—so wear some comfortable shoes!

While you are in the historic district, you can even get a photo opportunity in the Pillory (a form of colonial punishment for criminals).  Williamsburg: A Colonial Adventure // Money Savvy Living


Williamsburg honors military service

While visiting the historic district, active duty military, veterans, retired military, and their families can visit the Liberty Lounge absolutely free.  This air-conditioned lounge area features vintage military memorabilia and offers complimentary hot and cold beverages.  Visitors can also access wireless internet and enjoy the children’s area.

I must say, on the hot, sultry day that we were there, the AC and cold water sure hit the spot!

Williamsburg: A Colonial Adventure // Money Savvy Living

Military families can also get discounts on single day and annual pass tickets—active duty military can get one complimentary ticket per year and up to three more for dependents; veterans and retired military can receive 50% off their tickets and for up to five dependents.


Eat a colonial meal

While you are in the historic district, eating a meal at one of the colonial-style restaurants is a must.  We ate at the King’s Arms Tavern and the experience was wonderful.

Williamsburg: A Colonial Adventure // Money Savvy Living

Of course, the meal was enjoyed by candlelight and served on china and glassware (if you have small children, you won’t be getting a plastic cup with a lid or straw here!)   You can even try some colonial-style food too, like this peanut soup:

Williamsburg: A Colonial Adventure // Money Savvy Living


Visit the Historic Venues

There are several buildings that are original historic sites—such as the Governor’s mansion and the Capitol.  The beauty of the architecture can be enjoyed from the outside, but you can also get tickets to take tours of the inside as well.

Williamsburg: A Colonial Adventure // Money Savvy Living


Visit the College of William and Mary

Literally within walking distance of the historic district of Williamsburg, the college was established before Williamsburg ever existed.

williamsburg college of wm2

Even though the plans for this college date back to 1618, the College of William and Mary actually is the second oldest college in America (Harvard is the oldest college, just in case you were wondering).

One of the most interesting parts of the college was the college camp.  Students camped here with the college president Rev. James Madison to form a college company before the Battle of Yorktown.

Williamsburg: A Colonial Adventure // Money Savvy Living

Despite the plans for the college being delayed, the College of William and Mary has plenty of firsts to tout, but here are some of the highlights:

  • Construction for the Wren building, named in honor of Sir Christopher Wren, started in 1695, making it the oldest college building still standing in America.
  • First college in to have plans pre-dating Harvard, even though the college was established after Harvard became a college.
  • First American college to receive its charter from the Crown under the Seal of the Privy Council in 1693, and appropriately named as their Majesties’ Royal College of William and Mary.
  • First and only American college to receive a Coat of Arms from the College of Heralds in 1694.
  • First college to have the elective system of study, 1779.
  • First college to become a university, 1779

williamsburg college of wm


Enjoy shopping at Colonial Williamsburg’s Merchants Square

While there are over 40 shops and restaurants at Merchants Square, there is also live entertainment at various spots, to enjoy as you browse and window shop.  If you parked at the Visitor Center, this is also a stop along the shuttle bus route, so you can easily go from the historic district to Merchants Square.


A fun trip can also be an educational trip.  This trip back in time to colonial America gives adults and children an experience that you won’t find in a textbook.  Williamsburg truly is a historic adventure for the whole family.




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