This post is part of a “Summer Fun Guide” group writing project by the Personal Finance Network. More articles on the subject are at the end of this post.

Summer fun doesn’t have to include an expensive road trip, a long airplane flight after braving security lines, or endless choruses of “are we there yet?”. You can have fun by staying right at home, without the hassle. And with fuel prices being what they are, enjoying a staycation instead of a vacation is becoming a more and more attractive option. (Although it’s always been an attractive option to my husband — those are his favorite kinds of vacations.)

You can choose to literally stay at home, not even leaving your house, or you can choose to play tourist in your own town by taking in the local sights or enjoying the pool and spa at a neighborhood hotel. Choosing to stay in the area will help save you money too. You won’t have to pay for additional gas or expensive airfare, and if you stay in your own house you won’t have to pay for lodging or pet and house sitting services. In either case, a little bit of planning will help to make your summer staycation fun.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Treat it like a real vacation. Take off from work, and tell family & friends that you’re on vacation and unavailable during that time period (unless they’ll be vacationing with you.)
  • Unplug and disconnect. Don’t be tempted to sit at the computer all day or constantly check email. Vow to either ignore the internet altogether, or designate 10 minutes once a day to do so if you just can’t bear the thought of possibly missing something.
  • Pay all bills ahead of time, and have your mail held while you are “gone”. This will cut down on distractions and allow you to relax.
  • Plan out crock pot meals or restaurants to eat at ahead of time, so that you aren’t stuck cooking instead of relaxing. Or take turns having each family member be responsible for a day’s meals.
  • Contact your local tourist information office or AAA to get a list of area attractions. Another advantage of staycations is that residents often receive discounted admission to attractions. You can also scope out a hotel lobby for brochures and lists of upcoming events.
  • Use this opportunity to explore what your own area has to offer. So many times we pay a small fortune to go explore somewhere new, when there might be some gems right in our own neighborhood that we could see for signficantly less. (I realized once while on vacation in Germany that I’d never seen the Grand Canyon or Monument Valley, despite having lived within driving distance of both for many years.)
  • Most of all, relax and enjoy.

For more financially-fit ideas on having fun in the summer, take a look at these articles: