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Americans planned to spend an average of $1,621 on their vacations last summer, according to an Allianz Global Assistance USA survey. That was down from $1,895 the previous year, as 40 percent of millennials planned to spend less than $400 on summer travel.
One of the easiest ways to trim your travel spending is through a staycation, where you find great ways to enjoy some time off without ever leaving home. Not sure how to find the fun in staying put? These tips from the Califiornia Society of CPAs (CalCPA.org) can help you make the most of sticking around.
Focus on the Experience
The key to an enjoyable staycation is understanding that it is the experience, and not the trip itself, that can create lasting memories. For most people, the true benefit of a vacation is not necessarily the journey but the joy of sharing time with family or setting off on a new adventure.
Before planning an elaborate trip, think about what you really hope to gain from it. You may find that you can have everything you want while staying right where you are. Gather family together to plan local activities you can all enjoy together. Or investigate adventures in your own area that you may have been missing.
Be a Tourist
What would you normally do on a vacation? Visit a museum? Ride your bicycle on beautiful back roads? Meet new people? A staycation gives you the chance to be a tourist in your own hometown.
Just as many native New Yorkers claim they have never been to the top of the Empire State Building, many people likely have not checked out all the historic sites, natural wonders or cultural attractions in their own neighborhoods. Map out places you’ve never seen—or don’t visit as often as you’d like — within an hour of where you live and explore what they have to offer.
Spruce Up Your Great Outdoors
Consider using your vacation budget for outdoor home improvements that you can appreciate year-round. A new set of lawn chairs or an outdoor dining area can make it much more fun to entertain or simply wind down in your own backyard.
Consider upgrading your cooking space with a new grill or adding a fire pit that your family can gather around. Throw in a hammock and you’re ready for relaxation, and your enjoyment of these purchases will last longer than a short trip — and you may enhance your home value, as well.
Create Your Own Spa
The many pleasures of a vacation often include a comfortable hotel room where you can kick back and relax. But why not use your vacation funds to create the same atmosphere right in your own home?
For example, if you haven’t replaced your mattress in a while, it may be time to shop around to see if you can find one that offers better support, keeps you cooler, is allergen free or otherwise makes it more likely you’ll have uninterrupted sleep. A new paint job and some cozy bed linens can make your bedroom and bath more inviting places to relax.
Consider replacing your tub to make it a calming place to unwind at the end of the day. Once again, you’ll be able to appreciate your investment long after a typical vacation would have ended.
Consult Your CPA
There are many ways to have fun and indulge yourself while still making smart financial decisions. Be sure to ask your local CPA for advice on the best ways to budget for fun.
Copyright 2016 American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
The Money Management columns are a joint effort of the AICPA and the California Society of CPAs as part of the profession’s nationwide 360 Degrees of Financial Literacy program.