July, 2010
By Michael Kalscheur, CFP®
Senior Financial Consultant, Castle Wealth Advisors, LLC

During the summer of 2008 gas prices were going through the roof, hitting $4/gallon in some parts of the country. Since summer is typically when most people take their vacations, and high gas prices limited their vacation options, a new term was coined: the Staycation.

If you are unfamiliar with the term, this is where you don’t jet off to Florida or cruise the Caribbean, but stay close to home during your time off. However, many people think that the only thing they can do on a Staycation is clean out their garage or veg in front of the TV. Au Contraire! There are dozens of things you can do for some rest and relaxation without going too far from home. Here are 10 ideas that you can use to enjoy yourself (and save some money) during your next Staycation:

1. Treat it like a real vacation. Plan it out ahead of time, set a time and date and have an itinerary, just like if you were going out of town for a regular vacation. Also, remember that this is time to rest and relax, so no e-mail, cell phones or blackberries allowed.

2. Look for local attractions you’ve never seen before. Contact the local visitor’s association and see what they are promoting to people coming to your area. What could you do, where could you go, which restaurants could you try? This is a great place to start. Maybe even take a tour of your city; you might be surprised by the history behind some of the things you see everyday.

3. Search the internet for additional ideas. Technology is your friend, so jump online and do some research on the attractions you have heard about. Have there been favorable or unfavorable reviews? Chances are you’ll find out about some great Mom & Pop locations that you’ve never heard of before.

4. Get out a map and draw a circle 50 and then 100 miles out from your home. Look in these places to see if they have additional attractions that you might be interested in. Why 50 & 100 miles? This is usually an easy driving distance that you can go and come back in the same day, thus staying at home and saving money on hotels.

5. If saving money is your #1 goal, look for free options (yes, they still exist). State and Federal parks are great options for hiking trails, swimming and canoeing. Some museums have free admissions days during the week. There are also hundreds of National Parks (more on these later) and National Memorials that you can visit.

6. Water parks are fun on those especially hot days, but you don’t need to go to the big name water parks (@ $40/person) to cool off. Your local city or county park probably has a municipal pool. It may not have all the glitz and glam, but it might have a slide and enough water to make the hottest days bearable. Average admission price is about $5/person.

7. If you have school age children, the National Park Junior Ranger program is an absolute must. Start by going to http://www.nps.gov/learn/juniorranger.cfm and look for a National Park that is close to you. There are 224 locations spread out all over the U.S., so there is probably one or two within driving distance. When you go there, ask for the Junior Ranger Booklet. Your kids will have fun learning about that particular National Park and earn a Junior Range badge.

8. Are you a sports fan? In that case, instead of gunning for the 50-yard line seats at the new NFL football stadium, check out the local high school, college and minor league sports teams. Chances are you’ll get a great seat, see a great game and save some big money.

9. Along the way, why not try a new sport for the day? If you have never played racquetball, squash or even golf, give it a shot. Even better, if you can hire a coach/personal trainer to show you the basics, you might even find a new hobby. Regardless, it will burn off a few pounds that would have been there after a typical vacation.

10. Remember that there are lots of things you can do in your own home. Board games in the living room, movies on the big screen TV and camping in the backyard are some ideas. Set up a cooking contest between family members or a take bike ride to the next neighborhood. Whatever you decide, make it a family event.

Of course you can always do some work around the house. A “working” staycation is a great way to get one of those big things off the honey-do list, such as landscaping, refurbishing the deck or building a privacy fence. Here again, you can get something done that you want or need to do, without breaking the bank. With all the money you save, you can do something to treat yourself, like hiring someone to clean up after your project is completed!

Michael Kalscheur, CFP®, is a Senior Financial Consultant at Castle Wealth Advisors, LLC. Castle specializes in helping families and closely-held business owners with strategies to protect and transition family assets from one generation to the next. Castle’s senior partners also work with clients throughout the country in making logical decisions to help them fulfill their personal and business financial goals. For more information visit www.Castle3.com, call 1-888-849-9559 or contact Michael directly at .