A staycation isn’t a thing, but you can make it one

Back when we were in the depths of the Great Recession, some marketing genius coined the phrase “Staycation” to suggest that one could have fun without taking that prohibitively expensive trip to Borneo you’d always wanted to take. For some reason, people bought the phrase “Staycation,” but I don’t know anyone who’s actually taken one.

This year, I’m giving it a shot, and here are five things I’ve found that are easy on the pocketbook but also have the potential to be fun.

  1. Short road trips – When I write “short,” I mean day trip. We live close enough to a million tourist spots (Woodstock, Vt., the Berkshires, Lake Winnipesaukee) that we can get up early in the morning, take a drive while the kids sleep, soak up some local ambience, and get home in time to put the kids to bed. (It qualifies as a Staycation because we’re sleeping at home.)
  1. Hitting the local, or local-ish, drive-in – Our oldest is just old enough to be able to sit through a 90-minute kids’ film (and the little one will sleep), and lucky for us, there are five drive-ins nearby that play family-friendly movies. From what I’ve been told, it’s best to bring your own food and lots of insect spray. Drive-ins seem to be having a moment right now, so maybe there’s one near you.
  1. Playing all the miniature-golf locations nearby in a week – The oldest is expressing an interest in new sports, and what’s better than giving him a metal club, a golf ball, and endless water hazards? The good news is miniature golf is generally inexpensive, I’ve never met a kid who doesn’t like it, and there’s usually ice cream within shouting distance.
  1. Inviting old friends over for a weekend – This is a great way to catch up with loved ones, they can stay with you so it doesn’t cost them anything but gas, and friends always bring gifts (and if they don’t, cross them off the list). Assuming the kids are old enough, they can entertain themselves. Or you can hire a babysitter and share the cost with your friends while you enjoy a night out.
  1. Cramming in all the local attractions within driving distance – No hotel money? No problem. You can still visit nearby water parks, amusement parks, fairs (those always seem to be summer things), and sleep in your own bed. Sure, you’ll be paying entry fees, but saving on accommodations is a big win.

Anything I missed? What’s on your staycation list?