A big thank you to guest blogger Roberta Pescow, NerdWallet for this week’s Friday Focus. This is the 6th article in our Top 7 Ways to Give the Gift of Savings Series.
Staycations Offer Alternative to Holiday Travel
Staycations – taking time off at home spiced up with day trips – have been rising in popularity since the end of the last recession and with good reason. By choosing to take advantage of local attractions – and hosting friends and family for holiday cheer – instead of traveling during your vacation, you can save a bundle and still be able to create wonderful memories. Here are some of the ways costs disappear when you stick around while taking time off.
Bills don’t go away even if you do
You won’t catch a break from routine bills if you travel on vacation, even if you aren’t using services such as lights and heat as much while away. Take the cable television bill, for instance. Expanded basic service alone averaged almost $62 at the end of 2012. And the cost of phone and Internet access can sharply increase that monthly obligation, even if you get a bundling discount.
The most significant recurring expense, though, is the roof over your head: the average mortgage payment on a three-bedroom house now tops $800 a month, and the national median rent is about 50% higher. Since you’re already spending all that money, it makes sense to stay close to home on your next break.
Vacationing is expensive
Almost everything associated with a traditional vacation comes at a high price. A plane ticket to a domestic destination averages over $380 and international flights cost even more. Once you get where you’re going, a rental car could run over $45 a day and a hotel room could set you back by $131 a night. And then there’s eating and entertainment to consider – all of which can pile on considerable expenses.
Staycations can reduce or eliminate almost all these costs. You won’t have to pay for lodging or dine out for every meal, and what you spend on transportation will drop dramatically. Even if you prefer to take day trips in your area, you’ll still enjoy huge savings over air travel or really long road excursions. If you have a car that gets 25 miles per gallon, for example, at the national average price of about $3.30 a gallon for regular gas, a 125-mile day trip for the whole family would take less than $20.
Relying on public transit may save even more. And if you’re lucky enough to live within walking or biking distance of interesting attractions, you may avoid all transportation costs.
Kids and pets left behind still cost you
Staying put can also eliminate or reduce the costs of child and pet care, even if they can’t come with you on day trips. And by not traveling, you get to spend more time with loved ones. Besides, when you leave kids and pets behind, the quality care they require will inflate your vacation’s price. Kennels and pet hotels can cost as much as $90 a night and the national average pay for a babysitter for one child is about $14 an hour. For those living in or near a major city, chances are you’ll pay even more, and those fees add up fast. Besides, who’d want to be separated from family during the holiday season?
Staycations can be luxurious
Some of the best staycation activities aren’t expensive at all. For example, you could visit historic places or museums that you haven’t had a chance to enter amid the daily grind.
By taking advantage of these affordable – sometimes free – local attractions, you may save enough to indulge in a few extravagances while still putting some money away. Splurge on something romantic, perhaps a couples massage, or take the family out to dinner and a show. You could even hire a cleaning service so you don’t have to think about making beds or washing floors during your at-home holiday – almost as carefree as staying in a hotel.
Having a memorable time away from work doesn’t require trekking far from home, only a bit of imagination. And at this time of year, you can use the extra free hours to make those holiday get-togethers really special.
Roberta Pescow, NerdWallet