Just because you can’t afford to take an expensive trip every year doesn’t mean you can’t go on vacation. Instead of buying a plane ticket to a faraway destination, start in your own backyard: explore everything your hometown, or a nearby city, has to offer. Save money—and gain a better appreciation for where you live—by taking a staycation. Seeing your own city through the eyes of a tourist is a great way to learn, explore, and feel refreshed. If you’re looking for small vacation ideas, check out this list of 10 reasons to take a staycation as a “tourist” in your own city.
1. Cheap Lodging
On a staycation, you can do one better than AirBnB: your own bed. Lodging can be one of the biggest vacation costs. Eliminate it entirely by staying home, even if your “destination” is a city or two over.
2. Affordable Food
You should definitely eat out during your staycation—it’s an excuse to splurge a little at the new restaurant downtown you’ve been eyeing, or to chow down on the food your hometown is known for. But saving money on your small vacation by preparing breakfast at home, packing a lunch, and splurging on dinner.
3. Learn About Your City’s History
It doesn’t matter how long you’ve lived somewhere, there’s always more to learn about the history and heritage of your city. Do you know the story behind your city’s name, or how it was founded? Make it a goal to find out during your staycation.
4. Meet New People
When you aren’t focused on work and crossing off your to-do list, it’s amazing what you’ll notice—and who you’ll meet. Talk to people you come across on public transportation and in coffee houses, and you’ll get a new, intimate look at your hometown.
5. Stay in Your Comfort Zone
If you’re an introvert and get exhausted in new situations, a staycation may ultimately be more relaxing than an exotic location. You get to stay home and go out at your own pace in a place with familiar food, customs, and roads.
Make your staycation feel like a true getaway with one of the best small vacation ideas: turn off your phone. Or at least, stay off email and social media. Becoming a tourist in your town is a great excuse to do a digital detox and focus on the beauty and culture around.
7. Visit Museums
You’ve probably passed by local museums big and small dozens of times without ever going in. Now is your chance: your staycation is a great time to experience art, history, culture—and obscure knowledge.
8. Find Something New
In your exploration of your own city, you may hit on a location you want to return to again and again. Maybe you’ll find a new park, a new cafe, or a new place to go hiking that you wouldn’t have discovered otherwise.
9. Get Lost
You probably know your way around town, but rarely venture far from the beaten path that includes your home, work, gym, kid’s preschool, etc. During your staycation, get lost. Venture beyond your regular haunts, don’t take a map and find something you’ve never seen before.
10. Visit Tourist Sites
People who live in New York City don’t always take the time to visit the Statue of Liberty or Ellis Island or other “tourist attractions.” If you live near a big city, use your staycation as an excuse to visit these touristy sites in your own backyard. You may even buy a guidebook or take a guided tour. It’s fun to walk among tourists to see how far people travel to visit where you live. Buy a souvenir or trinket to display in your home as a memory of your staycation and to remind yourself that you live somewhere worth visiting and exploring.
There are plenty of reasons to become a tourist in your own city. Get out and wander, explore, and learn—you’ll be amazed at what you find. Make sure you pack the right gear for a comfortable “trip.” Happy travels!