When you are on a tight budget, you don’t need to resort to #fakecation. Have you heard of this? It’s a phenomenon where people pose in front of a picture of a beach and post it on social media as if they are really there.
When you are cutting expenses, paying off debt, and building your savings, it feels like the closest you will get to a vacation is to fake it. You are working hard, and you deserve a real break and some time to reconnect with your family.
But…vacation? Full-blown, beach, pools, sunburns, hotel, food, and travel expenses kind of vacation? How could that possibly fit in with a frugal lifestyle?
It doesn’t. I am sorry to be the one to break it to you, but a large expensive vacation isn’t the place to spend money if you are struggling financially. But you need to take a break. I get it. I do, too.
So I put together 5 amazing ways to actually take a fakecation. These are real ideas—in fact, some of them might actually get you a tan! None of them include fake Twitter or Instagram pictures, though. Save money this year and put it towards your financial goals instead of a vacation. You will be glad you did.
1. Go local (also called a staycation)
Get out and explore your own town! I bet you will be surprised to learn there are many things you haven’t seen—trails you haven’t hiked, parks you haven’t visited, new restaurants you haven’t had the chance to try yet. Take some of your vacation days and go on vacation at home.
To make a staycation feel more like a vacation, don’t do chores! Get up early like you would on a real vacation and get out there! Make an itinerary to motivate yourself to ignore the laundry and have quality fun exploring your town with your family.
We have discovered a natural spring, art galleries, and even a stone tub that George Washington supposedly bathed in while exploring our own area. You never know what you will find, and it can be a great educational experience for your kids!
2. Go on a day trip
What is within a three-hour drive of your home? Are there amusement parks, big cities, beaches, or little hamlets to explore? Plan a fun day trip there!
Gas and an entrance/parking fee (if you are hitting a theme park or national park) should be your only expenses on a day trip. Pack a cooler with drinks, sandwiches, and snacks, and make every meal into a picnic. This is really fun for kids, and it will save you a lot of money on your trip.
Skip the expense of a hotel and drive home the same day. My husband and I switch drivers—one of us drives in the morning, and the other drives home in the evening. That way, no one is overtired and we arrive home safely after an incredible day.
3. Visit family
So you have checked out your own town and used your home as a launching pad for day trips. Time to go visit family and do the same thing!
Staying with family instead of at a hotel while visiting will save you some serious cash and expand your travels with only gas and food as an expense. Plus, you will be able to spend time with your relatives while having a fun vacation.
I know some people don’t consider visiting family a vacation, but you should! Adopt an attitude of fun and exploration and have a great time! Sure, grandpa might get cranky or uncle so-and-so might drive you bonkers, but if you spearhead your own family itinerary and invite everyone along on your adventures, you might be surprised when relatives who tag along have a great time.
A huge perk of visiting family—particularly grandparents—is that they spoil your kids and will babysit if you want a date night. It is fun for your child to visit grandma if he knows that she sneaks him treats and is willing to take him to do whatever he likes! And in the meantime, you and your husband can catch a movie—now that’s a vacation!
If you don’t have any vacation days at work, or you just don’t have time to travel or make a day trip every weekend, you can still unplug and take a break.
Turn your phone on silent for a few days, and let your emails pile up. Turn off the computer, and don’t check your social media for a while. It is a refreshing break from our hectic digital work and social lives, and it feels like a true vacation.
Go camping in your backyard, cook and eat an amazing meal without taking pictures for Instagram, and just enjoy being with your family. Watch the sunrise without having to document it for your followers. It feels awkward at first, but after 24 hours, you will feel as refreshed as you would if you took an expensive vacation—and you didn’t pay a cent!
5. Make every day special
Vacation is a state of mind.
Make everyday things special and fun, and your life will become a vacation. Go as a family to the grocery store or farmers market, and have everyone pick a new fruit to try. Make a picnic and enjoy it on a blanket in your backyard. Take your child to the post office to send a letter instead of just dropping it into your mailbox. Turn errands into adventures. Cook as a family, with everyone contributing to a part of the meal—even the kids!
Do everything intentionally, as a family, and make it special. Act like you are on vacation, slow down and enjoy what is around you. This is why many people go on vacation—to take a break, connect with each other, and have fun together. You can do this at home without spending a dime!
Big vacations can be really expensive, and can be avoided when you are trying to save money—you can go on a fakecation instead and still have a relaxing and fun experience. Staying at home and exploring, going on a day trip, and visiting your family can be cheaper alternatives to a week at the beach. But to really take a break, unplug for a few days and intentionally make time with your family a special experience. Live like you are always on vacation!