Unwind on the Cheap: 5 Steps to a Sweet Staycation. Here are a few of my best tips to make your staycation a wonderful experience.I took my first staycation two years ago, and it was great. I had a week of paid vacation time at my job, but no money to really travel anywhere, since I was keen on paying off as much debt as possible for the year.

Instead, I ended up setting aside a little money and planning a fun staycation.

It turned out to be a very economical way to de-stress and enjoy time away from work without having to pay for an expensive flight or hotel.

Here are a few of my best tips to make your staycation a wonderful experience:

1. Determine Your Budget

If you don’t want your staycation to be boring and consist of you sleeping in each day and binge-watching Netflix, you’ll probably want to do a variety of things that may involve spending money.

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I planned my first staycation during my son’s spring break, so I took an entire week off. I set an initial budget of around $400, which was still a fair amount, but nothing compared to the cost of an exotic vacation. I knew I could work with those numbers.

2. Plan Your Itinerary

You should plan out your staycation so that you have a good idea of what you’ll be doing each day. Consider outings to nearby areas that you’ve wanted to explore. Maybe you can go on a hike at a nearby national park or have lunch with friends you haven’t seen in a while.

3. Search for Deals and Discounts

To keep your itinerary aligned with your budget, you’ll need to secure a few deals or discounts to stretch your dollar. My favorite deals sites are Groupon and LivingSocial. You can score discounts on restaurants, household goods, live shows, nearby events, and more on both of these sites.

For my staycation, I found a Groupon for an indoor water resort about 90 minutes away from my home. The deal was pretty awesome. It even included day-long admission to the water park and the on-site arcade for up to four people. Oh – and a $10 food credit, which was enough to buy a large pizza from the café.

Since the Groupon (an affordable $55) covered the price of lunch and admission, I brought my husband and son along. It felt like a mini-vacation to hang out at the resort all day, relaxing and swimming.

Normally, our outing would have cost upwards of $110. But since I was in the habit of looking for deals and discounts online, I managed to cut that price in half.

4. Play Tourist

Your staycation will be much more fun if you decide to play tourist in your own neighborhood.

Are there special attractions that you’ve always known about, but have never really gotten to see? Take advantage of your staycation to finally experience them.

The closest large city to me is Chicago. It’s just a 45-minute car ride, or an hour by train. I had a large, exciting city in my backyard that millions of people travel to each year, and it was all mine to explore without the cost of hotels.

5. Clear Your Schedule and Chore List

Because you’re at home, you may be tempted to do things you would normally do – cook for yourself, do chores, run errands… Maybe even do a little work. It's more tempting to sink back into the daily grind when you have a staycation instead of a regular vacation.

But prepare for your staycation just like you would for any other vacation. Deep-clean your home, run all your errands, and finish your work the week before.

Then shut your computer off and disconnect from your email app. You can even prep meals in advance to avoid having to cook during your staycation.

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A Final Thought

At the end of the day, it all comes down to preparation, creativity, and dedication. Having a staycation instead of a vacation will save you thousands of dollars that you can put towards debt, savings, and investments. Plus, if you plan it right, your staycation will be a blast and provide you with tons of memories.