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Frugal Staycation Ideas for Homeschooling Families
Homeschooling families often need to be frugal. This is especially true of families with only one income. Homeschooling can be expensive and can put a strain on the family finances. Which might make it hard to take a family vacation from time-to-time. But it’s not impossible if you use frugal staycation ideas to keep your family on budget.
A staycation is when you choose to take your time away near your own home. Doing this saves money because you don’t have exorbitant travel expenses such as plane flights and hotel stays. But, you get to explore areas around your own hometown that are within a days drive that perhaps you’ve always wanted to visit but just haven’t taken the time to do so. Or, you’ve experienced it but your children have not and you can enjoy seeing the excitement in your own child’s eyes as they discover areas you’ve known your whole life.
So how can you utilize the staycation mentality and still keep your costs at the lowest possible prices?
10 Ideas for Frugal Staycation Family Fun
Buy Gift cards from your Local Grocery
Grocery stores want to track your spending habits so they can target sales directly to you! To do this they often have reward cards. Those cards can benefit you if you understand how they work. Often if you buy gift cards at the grocery you get bonus points on your rewards cards. Now, many grocers also have gas stations and if you purchase your groceries from them, they offer you discounts on gas prices. And, they often give you bonus points for gas purchases if you purchase your gift cards.
If you know you have to eat out while traveling, plan ahead, purchase a gift card for the restaurant that you plan to eat at in the location for where you are heading. Using that gift card can save you because you can plan ahead for the meal so it comes out of the budget isn’t AS tight during the trip. Then use the gas perks to buy your gas before heading out of town.
Most tourist attractions offer discounts to local residents. Sometimes it’s in the form of annual memberships, other times they partner with local businesses or grocery chains. The best source for finding such discounts is to go online and search for discount tickets to the attraction that you are planning to go to. If you are traveling a bit out of town, go ahead and check with supermarket chains in the local area that you will be going to. You can simply order online, or stop in at the store when you arrive in town to see if they offer discounts or coupons for the attraction you want to go to.
Often zoos, museums, and science centers have reciprocal programs across the nation. Which means having a family membership to your local attraction allows you access to attractions around the country. Often that means you can get in for free or at a greatly reduced rate at other sister sites. For example, most U.S. Zoos have reciprocity agreements that allow zoo members to use their memberships at other locations. It might mean free parking, or it might mean dollars off, or it could mean free entry, especially within the same state. The same is true for science centers and museums.
Check your family membership programs to see what reciprocal discounts they offer before you head out of town.
Pack a Meal
One of the biggest killers of a budget is eating out. Even eating at a fast-food place can quickly add up when you are feeding multiple children, especially when you have teens. By simply packing a few ham and cheese sandwiches, splitting a large bag of chips into baggies, adding some fruit and a water bottle you can manage to make lunch for each family member and be frugal in the process. Be sure to take along few extra bottles of water so won’t be buying the overpriced bottles from gas stations.
Utilize the National Park Service
The U.S. National Park Service has a wealth of resources for citizens. We pay a lot in taxes to be able to utilize these services. And, they are often free or very low cost. So, think about the national parks, museums, and historical sites near your home and do a bit of research to determine where your family can take your next staycation.
They offer a wide variety of things from hiking and camping, to historical locations and tours, and some of the most amazing parks in the world. For educators such as homeschoolers, they also offer a wealth of homeschooling/field trip studies and educational resources. Look for national parks and museums that are within driving distance of your home and get out there and explore what our great country has to offer.
Ask for a Discount
Did you know that many tourist attractions, especially those that have are educational in nature, often offer discounts to educators? Because you are a homeschooling family, you are considered an educator and therefore you can utilize those educator discounts. But, you have to ask for it. The ticket taker can’t know that you are an educator if you don’t ask if they have an educator’s discount. So ask.
You will need to be prepared to present some type of identification that indicates you are an educator. This can be a membership card to HSLDA or another memberships to a homeschool organizations. You can even show a letter of excused absence if your local school district supplies you with one.
Rent a Canoe
Traveling on abriver can make for a relaxing venture or thrilling adventure depending on the type of river. Often you can find a company in your area that rents canoes to tourists. For a nominal fee and explore your local area from a different perspective and see nature up close. Don’t forget to pack a lunch and plenty of water bottles.
Visit a Local Art Museum
Most mid-sized cities have at least one art museum. It may be a display of local artisans or it could be that they host traveling exhibits. Many times these museums offer free admission with subtle requests for donations. If they don’t and there is an entry fee, you can always ask for an educator’s discount.
While there ask about any classes or special tours that they may offer for students or homeschoolers. Who knows, once they learn your kids are on a learning expedition they might just give you an insider’s tour.
Check with the Local Chamber of Commerce or the City’s Division of Tourism
Most cities have some type of visitor’s center, abdivision of tourism, or chamber of commerce that is focused on attracting visitors to their city. Look for them online and see what offerings they have that might reduce your costs while visiting their town. Perhaps it’s coupons to local restaurants or discounts to attractions. Don’t miss out on savings by not looking to see what’s available.
Factories often offer tours to the public. Sometimes when you take a factory tour you are able to walk away with a bit of swag. A chocolate factory might give you samples of chocolate. The upside for homeschoolers is that these factory tours can serve as a way to introduce your children to the world of industry, business, commerce, engineering, and manufacturing. Most factories offer tours for free as a way to build brand awareness and customer loyalty. But, they also utilize the traffic to sell items in their visitor centers or gift shops. Often, you can find great discounts there and stock up on Birthday or Christmas gifts for the family.
Remember that a staycation isn’t just about education. The purpose is to have fun with your family. So while you can use the opportunity as a learning aid, don’t get so caught up in teaching that you forget to enjoy the moment with your kids. So relax, let go a bit be happy watching your children explore. You’re building memories with them through experiences that will stay with them throughout their lives.
What are your best frugal staycation tips do you have to share? Tell us in the comments.