Train Travel In Europe - How Affordable Can It Get?Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wallyg/299382839/

Thanks to state of our economy and high costs, many people are considering a "staycation" as a viable vacation option this year.  What is a staycation?  That's where you decided to stay home instead of traveling to some far off location and spend some time exploring your local region.  This can save you some serious money and stress – no $150/night hotel bill, no getting lost trying to find the airport, and no rental to have to return.  Sleep in your own bed, eat from your own kitchen, and drive your own car!

Just Another Tourist Site in CaliforniaCredit: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/312614But how do you make sure that your staycation doesn't decay into a never-ending line of TV watching, video-game playing, or household chores?  Your best bet is to schedule your days out ahead of time!  Make a list of things you've always wanted to see or do that are within an hour's drive of your home.  Then schedule out those activities across your available vacation time.

For example:

Train Travel in Europe - Affordable AND fun!Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wolfgangstaudt/2052656629/Sunday: Explore one of your many local, national, or regional park.  Bring a picnic, a blanket, and a book for some relaxing time in the sun or get some exercise by going for a hike.  No matter what you decided to do, some time out in the sunshine and fresh air will do you some good!

Monday: Visit one (or two) of the museums in your area.  It doesn't have to be just art –head out to the local science center or the natural history museum and learn something new.  Head over to this site - http://www.museumsusa.org/museums/ - if you need a suggestion or two as to where to go.

Tuesday: Have some fun in the sun and water today by checking out a local water park, lake, beach, or pool.  Take your sunscreen, a few magazines or books, snacks, and drinks to make it a fun day.  If you have kids, make it a group activity – invite some other families so your kids have playmates and there are more eyes to keep an eye on them.

Wednesday: Dress up and take a tour of a local art museum or galleries in your town.  You never know – you might discover an up-and-coming artist.  Make the day special by following up your art walk with a nice lunch or ritzy tea.

Thursday: Head out to a local amusement park to ride the rides and play the games.  If you want to have fun but not spend so much money, bring a picnic lunch and a water bottle.  Food and drinks are usually heavily marked up at parks.

San Francisco's Wave OrganCredit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mormonunderpants/522512483/Friday: Volunteer for a worthy charity in your area.  Take a moment out of all your fun and games to give back to your community.  Not only will your time be well spent helping those less fortunate, but you'll get a great feeling of accomplishment doing something constructive with your "vacation time."

Saturday:  Attend a local festival or concert.  Sample the food, listen to the music, ride a few rides, explore the arts and crafts, and enjoy the sunshine.  If you're not sure what's going on that weekend, take a look in the Calendar section of your local newspaper for ideas and suggestions.

Of course, you shouldn't plan every waking hour of your staycation.  This is your vacation – you need to relax and rejuvenate.  Have a little time set aside every day to read a book, drink a glass of wine (or beer), and reflect upon your day.  If it's in your budget, do something special for yourself – like a nice massage or a relaxing pedicure. 

Whatever it is, make sure to do one thing that week – RELAX!  It is your vacation!