It seems almost everyone is jetting off to Europe or frolicking around in the 30A right now, but if you’re anything like me you’re far too booked and busy for that this summer. Between weddings, birthdays, concerts, and other small-town events, the thought of fitting an actual vacation into my schedule and budget is…ridiculous. But listen to me when I say this: I’ll be damned if the whole summer passes me by without enjoying at least one stay.
Luckily, it’s still possible to have a fun, memorable summer, even if you don’t travel to Europe or the beach any time soon. You can treat yourself (and your friends too!) to a stay that feels both luxurious and special, without breaking your summer budget. Here we share some of the best staycation ideas that will check your summer vacation box without breaking the bank.
1. Host a themed dinner party
The best thing about any holiday is, of course, the food. But you don’t have to be on the Amalfi Coast to enjoy fresh pasta, seafood and plenty of white wine. Invite some of your friends and family to a dinner party themed around a specific travel destination. Are you dreaming of the beaches of the Riviera Maya? Enjoy margaritas, fresh guacamole and a taco bar on deck. Do you wish you were in Mykonos? Make sure there’s no shortage of fresh veggies, feta cheese, and pita. With the help of menu items, a curated playlist, and some decor (if you feel like it), you and your guests will be whisked straight into vacation for the night.
2. Take a cooking class
Embark on a culinary adventure with friends, your significant other, or even on your own by taking a cooking class. Most places have seasonal and/or themed nights to choose from, like Down on Bayou, which takes you to Louisana, or Summer in Paris, which makes you feel like you’re dining under the Eiffel Tower. Trying new restaurants and dining experiences while on vacation immerses you in the culture wherever you are, and it can motivate you to try new cuisines. Cooking classes create the same environment! The only difference is that the courses teach you how to recreate the kitchen and techniques at home over and over again. Sign me up!
3. Have a movie night outdoors
Take advantage of cool summer nights and spend a movie night outdoors. You can go all out with snacks, drinks, blankets or chairs, fairy lights and even an inflatable cinema screen or projector. Otherwise, keep it simple by putting your TV outside, popping some popcorn, and lounging on your patio furniture. Aside from a little setup, the only thing you really need to do is figure out what movie you’re going to watch. An outdoor movie night is a fun and inexpensive idea to plan your stay with friends, family, your significant other or alone – there are no rules.
4. Plan a Boujee picnic
Whether you’re picnicking on the beach, in a park, or in your own backyard, we encourage you to focus on the details and enhance the experience. Instead of just laying a blanket on the floor, grab a rug and some pillows to sit on. Similarly, ditch paper and plastic and bring real cutlery, crockery, and glassware. When it comes to food and drink, you can’t go wrong with a charcuterie board, some appetizers, and wine. Tip: plan this with a few friends. Not only will you have more fun together, but it also helps to share responsibilities and costs.
5. Book a spa day
Nothing says rest and relaxation like a visit to the spa while on vacation. But this summer, going to a local spa (or having a spa day at home) sounds a lot more realistic — and, not to mention, a lot more affordable. Take the time out of your schedule and book a stay that includes a massage, facial, manicure and/or whatever sounds luxurious to you. This is the perfect way to unwind, treat yourself and escape responsibility. Whether you book on-site services or want to be pampered at home, make sure you have your notifications turned off and your OOO set up.
6. Play Tourist in your hometown
Who says excursions are reserved for vacations? You will be surprised how much there is to discover in your own city! I’m willing to bet you haven’t seen or done everything, no matter how long you’ve lived there. Go touristy this summer and explore your hometown for the weekend. Rent bikes, dine at new restaurants, visit a different brewery, visit festivals and farmers markets, and more. Plan your weekend stay as if you are visiting a brand new location and want to see as much of the city as possible before heading home. Who knows, you might even find your new favorite spot in your own backyard.
7. Go camping (or glamping)
Whatever your style (I’m the glamping type myself), an outdoor getaway is a cost-effective alternative to a holiday that’s just as fun and relaxing. Meet some friends, get your camping gear and essentials ready (read: s’mores), and head to a nearby campground. You could even set up a tent in your backyard – it’s up to you. Spend a night (or more) laughing around the campfire, gazing at the stars, disconnecting from technology and enjoying all that nature has to offer.