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Faculty HG ParsaThere are certainly arguments to be made for and against taking a staycation. Saving money is a virtue, but a change of scenery can also do the mind, body and, ultimately, the wallet some good. With that in mind, we turned to a panel of experts in the fields of leisure studies, travel and psychology for their take on the benefits and drawbacks of staycations. Barron Hilton Professor of Lodging Management H.G. Parsa answered the following question for WalletHub.

Are staycations a good money-saving idea?

The purpose of a staycation is to have fun on a budget. It is almost as simple as going to grandma’s house across the town for a dinner or going to a picnic at the park.

It saves money only when one enjoys staying local and traveling less. The primary purpose of a staycation is to enjoy the “simple pleasures” of life and to share it with those you love.

What activities can families do locally without breaking the bank?

There are many: local attractions, hiking in the park, helping local soup kitchens and shelters, rescuing pets, joining Big Sisters / Big Brothers programs, going to the ball park, going to a lake, visiting a museum / zoo, helping the local pet shelters / SPCA, running/ walking for a cause, supporting local sports teams, visit a farmers’ market, joining a local book club / service club, etc.

What is the best time of year to have a staycation?

One can have most fun in the summer, unless someone is living in Phoenix or Orlando (too hot to do anything). In reality, one can have fun year round depending on taste preferences and types of activities preferred.

It also depends on one’s age and family commitments.

How can families assess financially whether they should choose a staycation instead of a vacation?

It all starts with the budget and lifestyle. There should be a synchrony between the planned staycation and the lifestyle of the family. It can’t be forced just for monetary reasons. Then, there will not be any fun. If money is the main factor, then the family is best advised to take a micro-vacation such as movie and a dinner, go to an opera or watch a local professional sport.

Vacation, by definition, is a planned activity that was in planning for an extended time. It is a major commitment in time, resources and money.

Are there any psychological drawbacks to a staycation?

It depends on the lifestyle of the family. Some families love staying close to home and enjoy the life around their town. It is not for everyone or every family. Some families need vacations and some don’t. Families that enjoy simple pleasures are best suited for staycations.

What are some tips for having a truly relaxing staycation?

  • First, identify the activities that offer you the most joy and pleasure with the smallest budget.
  • Then seek variety in those activities so that you don’t repeat the same.
  • Seek alternative choices that are available to you in your town.
  • Try to join a friend or a group to maximize your pleasure, especially for outdoor activities.
  • Be positive and be pleasant to each other. Good company multiplies the pleasure of a staycation.
  • Enjoy the gardens / flowers / nature / water / wilderness… make it a staycation.
  • Explore the ethnic neighborhoods / foods / culture. You will be better informed.
  • Take history tour of your town. If there is none in your town – create one.
  • Take pictures of your home town for posterity.
  • Record the lives and times of legends of your home town. It would be a great staycation.