As I approach the two week mark before my travels to the west coast I realize that even the best of frugal finds can still be out of your budget. Does that mean that you can’t enjoy yourself during your free time?Absolutely not!
Bring in the STAYCATION!
As stated above a staycation allows you the full fun aspect of going on vacation without having to spend large amounts of money on travel and lodging because you are doing all the activities in your home town. And while I’m sure you’re thinking well I’ve lived here all my life and have done everything there is to do… WRONG! And here’s why! There is always something more to do! How? Keep reading!
I particularly used the word “capitalize” instead of “make the best out of” because I want you to do more than just that. By doing a bit of research and looking further into your town/city or state you can enjoy much of these things without spending a dime… hence capitalizing without spending any coins! I’ll be chatting more exclusively on how to capitalize on a staycation in NY (well because thats where I am from) but the same rules /tips and guidelines apply wherever you are located, with just a bit of elbow grease and research.
1. Do your research: First things first you want to do your research! You want to google and check what is around you that you would be interested in and gauge the price (if any at all). A really great site to help you do research on activities in your area is Eventbrite. I thought this site was only for buying tickets or RSVP’n for an event but I was wrong. Each month they send over things to do in your area for the month, and you can go to the site and pick specific dates you are looking to do things and they will list them out for you!
2. Parks, Beaches & Other Recreation: This summer has been all about the city parks and beaches for me! I’ve been going to 2-3 parks/beaches a week just to catch up on the reading I can’t seem to get done at home or anywhere else. Parks are usually 0 bucks, while a few beaches may have admissions or parking fees depending on the day or time that you go. Look into the recreation aspect of your area. Luckily for New Yorkers we have NYCGO.com <— my favorite website! to tell us all the cool stuff happening in the city. Most states have a site for their parks, beaches and recreation so while doing your RESEARCH (referring to step 1) find that site and see what your area has to offer.
3. Museum Specials: New York had Museum day not too long ago where a majority of the museums had free or discounted admission so that people who often shied away before had no reason to do so now. You could hop from one museum to the other checking out cool exhibits that you wouldn’t have thought to visit before. While doing your research you can also look up particular museums to see if they have days they regularly offer at a discount or free admission. Also always ask for student, teacher or military discounts! Most of the time they have them even if they don’t advertise them!
4. Discount Sites: Groupon, Goldstar, Living social have been my life savers this summer (and every other season). There are other sites just like these as well that pile together the discounted activities (and you can look it up by area so this is not exclusive to New York) and see if anything cool is going on around you that you would like to attend. And the best part is you dont even need to pay the regular full price since you are getting it from these sites. I’ve rock climbed, attended block parties, museums, sporting events, comedy shows …etc ALL at a discounted price thanks to these sites!
5. Concerts, Festivals, Streetfairs: I love all three but they can normally be a bit pricy. If you’ve done your research and hunted down great discounts and deals you’ll find that there are alot of “lesser known” concerts, festivals and street fairs that are completely free and an absolute good time! Farmers markets, Smorgasburg and so many other pop up shops are all over New York that I could literally walk into neighborhoods and stumble across them. Festivals like AfroPunk bring together the music festival vibe along side food making it a 2 for one great deal all for FREE!
6. Tours: Tour your city or town! Every year I take a different type of tour guide Manhattan to add to my knowledge of my hometown. Whether it is a bus tour, boat tour, or walking tour (which are usually free) I make sure to take a tour in a different neighborhood and learn fun facts. I’ve even taken a tour at a famous cemetery in New York! So nothing is off limits!
7. Rooftops & Bikes: If you live in New York you’ll understand the correlation since these are all the rage for the past few years. Best thing is they don’t have to cost an arm and a leg if done right! Day parties, roof top parties, roof top pool parties all have that exotic vacation vibe without leaving the city. They can be a bit pricy but if you get a good deal, catch a freebie or purchase in advance you can spend the day on a roof hanging out with some of your closest friends away from the city while actually still staying in the city. Bike rentals also can some times rack up the credit card (thank you Citi bikes… ) but if you have your own bike take it for a spin and see how far you get. Enjoy the neighborhood, get a bite to eat and maybe even head up to a roof and enjoy a sunset. Don’t be limited by the lack of a car!
8. Get out of the main city: I love living in New York but sometimes you have to leave the big city to be able to have a better “staycation vacation” experience. Head 30-90 minutes outside of the city and do something you’ve never done before like bike, hike, rock climb, take a walk…etc. Enjoy a new space or environment without having to pay for too much more than gas and toll depending on your route.
9. Eat Out: I know I know eating out can be expensive if you do it impulsively. But remember we’re doing research and racking up deals right! I love eating out during restaurant week in particular because it allows me to go to all of these fancy restaurants that I can’t afford on my normal teacher salary and try foods I wouldn’t even think of trying. This gives the “vacation” feel without an airplane ticket or hotel reservation. Look for restaurant deals in your area and try a new restaurant that you haven’t tried before. It’s quite possible that your stomach will thank you for it.
10. Be a tourist: All those things you laugh and make jokes about tourists doing in your town… do them! You’d be surprised but NYC tourists know way more about New York than actual New Yorkers do. Sad but true! Take time to enjoy your neighborhood and do the things that people come to do! Like for me I take a trip to something touristy in New York at least once a year. Why? Because I can! It’s right here in my backyard and if I don’t take advantage of it, thats a true waste! Don’t be afraid to be a tourist in your own city! You’ll learn something new and have a new experience to talk about at work!
What cool staycation activities have you partaken in? Share your thoughts in the comment box below!
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