Vacations are fun, aside from the part where you have to pay for them.
Sadly, leaving on a jet plane, shacking up in a nice hotel, and taking in the sights and sounds of some beautiful piece of exotica costs a ton of money, which many of us simply do not have.
That would explain why the “staycation” has become more and more popular in recent years.
The concept is really simply — don’t go to work, but don’t go elsewhere either.
Stay in your area, lounge at home, soak up the sun at your local beaches, go hike a nearby mountain, and do anything else that’s both nearby and inexpensive.
However, when people think of staycations, they generally think of summertime, hence the examples we just mentioned.
But what about wintertime?
That’s the period when a staycation is needed most, especially since you’re likely still paying off your Christmas debt and can’t exactly spend a week in Vegas just yet.
But you can’t exactly hang around at the beach in wintertime, right?
Sure it’d be less crowded, but do you really want to risk hypothermia just so you get the waves all to yourself?
Luckily, there are plenty of winter-friendly ways to stay away from work, have fun, and still save money. Here are some of our favorites:
Even in today’s world, where everything short of breathing costs a fortune, museums are some of the most inexpensive forms of entertainment out there.
Many are free, simply asking for a donation if you can. Even the ones that do charge don’t charge a lot.
Visit several varieties of them during your staycation, and you’ve got tons of interactive education and entertainment for just about nothing.
Local Minor League Sporting Events
Major league sports cost a ton, we get that. But when’s the last time you saw a minor league team hone their craft?
These guys are just as good as the pros, you don’t have to deal with tens of thousands of loud drunks, and tickets are a fraction of what the big leagues charge.
An NBA game could run you $100 for a single ticket, and the seats are probably not good at all.
Meanwhile, the NBA’s D-League might ask for $30 in exchange for an amazing, near-courtside seat, which sounds infinitely better on every count.
Streaming Movie Marathon
A night out at the cinema costs a ton, but a night in with Netflix costs almost nothing.
Pay the monthly streaming fee ($8 a month,) and watch any movie or show you want, at any time.
And since you can stream them on your TV, you and your family can relax on the couch and take in whatever form of entertainment you desire, for the same price you’d pay for a single movie ticket fifteen years ago.
Try Out Some New Recipes
During the busy work week, you tend to feed your family with the most convenient and familiar meals imaginable because they’re quick and easy to make.
But on your staycation, try something different. Pick an exotic recipe you’ve never tried before — maybe even one you’ve never heard of before — and give it a shot.
Challenge yourself in the kitchen, but enjoy yourself while doing so. Take your time, put on some music, and finally revel in the delicious new dish that you’ve created.
Your family will love you for it, especially if they were ready to rebel if you served them Kraft Macaroni and Cheese one more time.
Eat Out at a Completely New Restaurant
If you don’t feel like cooking, but don’t want to just hit up Applebee’s AGAIN, try something totally new.
Remember, a staycation is still a vacation, and when you’re on vacation, you tend to experiment with unfamiliar territory.
So if you’ve never eaten Indian food, hit up the local Indian restaurant and try it out.
Any ethnicity and culinary style will do, as long as it’s not the same old place you patronize during the work week.
You probably won’t like everything, but who knows? You could still wind up with a new favorite meal, and kick-start a fresh work week tradition.
Troll Thrift/Discount Stores
You may not enjoy Macklemore’s music, but you can’t deny his sound shopping advice.
After all, many people love to shop while on vacation, but first-hand stores are just plain pricey.
So instead, why not hit up the thrift store and see what’s available for a buck or two?
Hit these stores up at the right time, and you could walk away with a new wardrobe, tons of great music, and perhaps some useful kitchen appliances, all for a fraction of what you would pay at a giant chain store.
Mary Hiers is a personal finance writer who helps people earn more and spend less.