Staycations Galore, Episode 4

image post

This is the penultimate post of the fabulous ideas from the Stacation Contest. Thanks to you all for playing and I hope you’re having fantastic staycations!

Lori in Riverview, NB

We budget for our staycation by having a magic jar that we put $7.00/week = $364.00** 2 adults, 1 teenage girl, 2 boys (6 & 8)

FRIDAY: It’s 4:30 PM. Vacation has started! Woohoo! Tonight is a movie night in the park, our town plays movies every second Friday night at dusk. FREE Popcorn! Let’s get some chocolate, Skittles & water bottles. Cost $10.00 (Candy)

SATURDAY: Hop on the bikes, downtown to the local market, have breakfast, pick up some fresh produce for supper. Mom will cook supper while dad and the kids will set the tent up in the yard for a family camp-out! Scary stories, game and laughs free of charge! Cost $50.00 (Breakfast & Produce)

SUNDAY: Time for a new challenge! Geocaching. All we need is our cell phone. Then we will hit the local pool. It is within walking distance of our home, we will pack a picnic for supper. Time to visit our cousin’s for a bonfire tonight. Sing songs, smores & potato chips. Cost $35.00 (Food, Pool Pass & Snacks)

MONDAY: Let’s walk to the library for story time, crafts and a puppet show, sign out a few books as well. We are going to head down for our free trial of lawn bowling, the town has a court and the first time is FREE. The winner gets to choose what’s for supper! Let’s take a bike ride to get ice cream and go to the park. Cost $15.00 (Ice cream)

TUESDAY: We are going to pack up for the day and head to a large park across town. We will feed the ducks, go for a hike, have a picnic lunch, go in the paddleboats and play at the splash pad. Game Night! (Yahtzee, Sorry!, Apples to Apples) which will include snacks! Cost: $20.00 (Paddleboats & Snacks)

WEDNESDAY: Time to split up, boys are going to the skate park this morning. The girls are going to the free exercise class at the park and then home for a DIY pedicure and a chick flick. In the afternoon we will catch the bus and head to the zoo. We will buy supper at the zoo. Cost: $90.00 (Bus, Zoo tickets & Food)

THURSDAY: Let’s spend the morning picking some strawberries. Then we will head to the beach for the day with a picnic lunch and buy some French fries at the beach and then come home and make Strawberry Shortcakes! Yum! Cost: $45.00 (Strawberries, Beach Pass, Gas)

FRIDAY: Today is a family baking event, we will need cookies and squares for tomorrow’s BBQ. We will also make a few decorations and get the prep work done (fill water balloons, prepare games, clean yard). No time for cooking tonight. Our local grocery store has chicken tenders and wedges for $2.50 per person. Then we will go for a walk on the waterfront and catch a baseball game in the park. Cost: $30.00 (Supper & Baking Supplies)

SATURDAY: Annual Family BBQ! Potluck style, scavenger hunt, water balloon toss, soccer baseball game. We take care of the dessert (cookies & squares) and drinks. Cost: $20.00 (Drinks)

SUNDAY: Let’s scrapbook our 2014 staycation! Mom has the basic supplies, just need some special embellishments. Cost: $40.00 (Supplies)

Total Cost: $ 355.00


Cathy in Ottawa, ON

For a great staycation for those who live near Ottawa and have (or can borrow) basic camping gear, there is nice summer camping in very nearby Gatineau Park.  I’d say the Lac Philippe campground is the least “wilderness” and most “family” option at the park.  This costs $40 on weeknights in the summer season, so compared to a hotel, pretty amazing!   Activity ideas include swimming, sunbathing, paddling and kayaking if you have a boat, renting is a bit pricey, playground for kids, walking and hiking trails.  I think a three night stay would be about right for me.

The rest of my week I would fill in with short trips.  To keep things fun I try and keep these days casual.  I let folks sleep in when they like, and we have nice brunches without rushing.  Half the fun is not having any real structure, and I try and do all the shopping the week before so no “boring” chores sneak in.

Parliament Hill walkabout:  We’ve done the formal tour, but walking around the grounds in the evening is great.  The views at sunset are amazing, and I’d take the kids to see the night time sound and lights how Mosaika (starts in July) – I strolled past last year and happened to catch it starting – it’s really neat.  And free!

Movie night:  The Rainbow Theatre at the St. Laurent Mall has $2.50 admission on Tuesday nights, but even on the regular days it’s $6 for adults, $5 for kids.  Even if you splash out for a treat, you’re saving a bundle.  The movies aren’t the newest, but you can always find something to see, even with teens!  The kids can prowl around the mall before the movie, but since you have a goal, you don’t get stuck in a shopping loop.

Stay at home Barbecue night (free):  Eat dinner outside and roast marshmallows for making s’mores over the barbecue!

Rainy Day plan (free): dig out all the old board games and remember that you actually liked playing some of them – you’ll be surprised at how much you laugh.  Also, the Ottawa Public Library offers a decent selection of DVDs, if you are willing to hunt around!  Lazy can be fun, too.

The biggest danger to the success of the Ottawa staycation budget is getting stuck without a food option.  One trip to a restaurant with a hungry family in this town, and your budget goes out the window!


Three nights camping:  $125

Gas:  $15 to the park, $10 for local trips

Food and Supplies: $80 for camping, maybe $20 for extra treats

Misc: for parking and surprises: $15

Movie night for 4 on a weekend: $30


Total costs: $295


Sammi in Toronto, ON

(Note: Sammi’s submission came with pictures attached, which I’ve deleted for ease of posting/copyright issues, but the effort is noted.)

I have been on a Staycation for years, why? Well, when you were a Money Moron and decide to pay off debt you really do need every dime, nickel and the now defunct pennies.

When you were young you were always asked, “What are you saving your pennies for”? Now I can genuinely say, Life!

I have lived the Staycation for years and it can actually be fun, I mean it’s no Dubai, but where I live, in the Guild (Guildwood) it can be a lot of fun.

On Day 1 of my Staycation I like to start off the week slow with a picnic at the Scarborough Bluffs (approx 10 mins from where I live, so not a lot of gas required), you bring your own food, blanket and you pay to park your car, which on average is about 4$ to cover a few hours taking in the scenery, sun and good company.

Day 2 I head out to Canada’s Wonderland, if you buy a seasons pass in the winter you tend to save money, they also give you the option to pay monthly payments to purchase your pass, approx 11$ a month over 6 months. A Wonderland Pass is good all season long and you def get your money’s worth. Parking is 13$, a meal pass for the day is $20 plus 20$ for gas.

Day 3 we are heading downtown to the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario), you can get free passes for your family (2 adults & up to 5 children) if you’re a member of the Toronto Public Library. Be sure to get the passes at least a month before your staycation as the passes go fast. The passes cover a variety of “tourist” spots in the city such as the Bata Shoe Museum, Black Creek Pioneer Village, Casa Loma, various historic museums, Science Centre and the Toronto Zoo. To get to the AGO I take the TTC, a day pass costs 11$, again saving gas money and parking.

Day 4 Is a semi -rest day and sticking to ye old neighbourhood, which can be fun. I grew up in Guildwood, and still live there. It’s literally on the nice side of the tracks in Scarborough, a little pocket of heaven with a lot of trees and a lot of familiar faces. When we were young my Mum would have us walk around the Guild, as we got older we snuck in to go swimming in the pool on the grounds. Now as an adult I love walking around the Guild Inn, you can get lost, and I have (don’t judge). The Guild Inn is full of art, greenery and romance, looking over the bluffs you get one of the best views, it’s a photog’s paradise.

Day 5 is one of my faves! It’s an everything must go sale. That’s right I am on Vacay and I am working and earning some dough! I am on the creative side and I love any reason to create. I make an EVERYTHING MUST GO SALE/VACAY SIGNAGE, set it up on the lawn and get to work. I have sold items on EBay in the past but a cheesy yard sale helps you get rid of clutter, make a little extra cash and it can be more social than you think. I gather extra techno gadgets, clothing, books, records from the 80’s, anything and sell it. I have made 100$ in the past and to be honest it’s fun!

Day 6 and the week is winding down and it’s Movie day! I am an avid Movie buff and I will spend an entire day just watching movies, it’s cheaper than going to the Theatre, more cozy and I can always throw a nap in if necessary

Day 7 and I have done it. I came, I Staycayed and I still have an entire day, what to do!

It’s time to head to the Zoo with those free passes garnered from the Library. Parking is 10$ and you can bring your own snacks and drinks in your bag (Yes I do this). The Zoo is approximately 15 minutes from my home, so once again not a lot of gas required. You can spend quite a few hours at the Zoo, it’s relaxing and you can always be happy around animals!

For those who don’t believe you can use limited funds for a good time, well you’re wrong. Save your money, life is too short and YOU have a lot of loving to do.


Jessica in Southwest Virginia

We will move from two incomes to one when my husband leaves his work in June to become a full-time PhD student. We want to have some quality time with our 10-year-old son this summer and are planning a staycation in our Southwest Virginia hometown.  We have a variety of activities planned, with each family member’s interests represented.

Day one (Water day!):  Water park 40 minutes away, all day play. Cost: $40 total ($26 for admission, $14 for concessions since outside food cannot be brought inside).

Day two (Do some good!): Volunteering at our local humane society by playing with and walking the dogs! Our son loves animals and this is a joy for him. A delicious packed picnic at the park afterward. Follow up with some disc golf. Cost $10 for picnic ingredients.

Day three (Games!): Mid-Morning movie, followed by trip to local entertainment center (40 minutes away) that offers go-karts, mini golf, and arcade games. Cost $28 for all day passes and a pizza (purchased from a coupon site); summer movie program shows $1 movies.

Day four (Farm tours): We purchase a lot of food from local farms through our CSA. We will visit a couple of these farms to see where our food comes from! After our farm tours, we will cook a meal together at home. Cost: $0

Day five (Relax!): Picnic in the park while listening to a local band play. Part of a free summer arts program. Ice cream for dessert. Cost: $15 for picnic foods and ice cream out.

Day six (Fit & fun!): Day at the rock climbing gym in our hometown. Fun way to get in some exercise! Follow up with a long bike ride on a local trail. Cost $25 for admissions to rock climbing gym..

Day seven (Bowling & camping): Son brings a friend to join us for two hours of bowling and pizza. Friend invited to join us for camping in the backyard! Set up a tent, view some stars, make some smores! Lots of free fun before bed: Nerf gun wars, water balloon fights, bike ride in the neighborhood. Dinner on the grill Cost: $19 for bowling package purchased from coupon site, free food for grilling from freezer.

Other costs: Gas for travelling 40 minutes two times. Cost: $20

Total cost for 6 days of fun: $157 (includes the admissions, food, and gas for travel)


Kerry in Burnaby, BC

Vacation cost: Just short of $200 (all admission costs have assumed entry for two people).

Before the vacation: You’re saving big bucks by staying at home and skipping out on a hotel. But one of the most relaxing parts of a vacation is getting away from the clutter and living in a distraction-free clean space. So before the vacation starts, take the time to clean and organize your house. You don’t want a dirty bathtub staring at you and distracting you from the important business of vacationing!


Day 1: Start the staycation off right by going out and doing something special. This helps get you into the mindset that this is a real vacation and not just a weekend at home. Deer Lake in Burnaby offers paddle-boating which is fun for all ages. Take a picnic and make a day of walking around the park and enjoying the summer weather and nature. Paddle-boating: $17.86/hour

Day 2: Culture day: (Be sure to leave the plastic at home today!) Getting exposed to art and culture is one of the best parts of visiting another place. But you can do it at home too. From Burnaby, I’d head out to South Granville street. There’s several art galleries, antique stores, and high-end furniture stores featuring the latest in design trends. Tons of fun to poke around! I’d top it off by heading to Pacific Theatre (which does live theatre)  and checking if there were any discounted rush tickets for whatever was playing that night. If there’s no theatre near you, rent an independent or foreign film and expand your horizons. Pacific Theatre rush tickets: $14.00 per person

Day 3: Take a day to just relax and read at home, on a beach, or in a park. A good book can take you through time and space – who says a staycation means being stuck at home! I have The Golem and the Jinni on my reading list for this year. Plan ahead and get your books from the library to make this day a no-cost one. Cost: Free

Day 4: Food day! Everything on this day revolves around appreciation of good food. Spend the day collecting everything you need for one really good dinner. Try out any or all of the activities below:

  • Go berry picking. You’ll get delicious berries for your dinner and it’s a fun activity to do.
  • Line this day up with a wine tasting event at your local liqour store – 39th and Cambie in Vancouver is always running them. Enjoy the free samples and then pick your favourite bottle for the dinner.
  • Wine is best enjoyed with cheese. Les Amis de Fromage has a great selection and you can sample cheeses before buying. So it’s fun to take a little bit of time to make up your mind. It’s also right next to the Gourmet Warehouse – a fun shop to poke around to see all the exotic ingredients and wacky kitchen tools.
  • Head to a Farmer’s Market to pick up everything you need to be inspired to make a delicious meal. My go to one is the Trout Lake farmer’s market. They often have chef demonstrations so it can be a very entertaining experience.
  • $15-20 for a nice bottle of wine
  • $6 for two pounds of strawberries
  • $20 for farmer’s market ingredients
  • $10 for cheese

Day 5: Home spa day! There’s lots of indulgent things you can do for next to nothing. Whip up a pitcher of cucumber water (just thinly sliced cucumber soaking in a pitcher of cold water.) You can exchange massages with your partner or do any number of at-home spa treatments (just google for many suggestions.) Be sure to have a bubble bath. Make a long ritual of it to get full enjoyment. Light candles, do incense, steam your face – go the full mile! Cost: None

Day 6: The vacation is almost over so I would have a bit of a splurge night. I’d break out my fancy clothes and treat myself to a nice dinner at a place I’ve never been before. Who knows, it might become my new favourite. I’d pair this with some sort of show (theatre, dance, concert, etc.) Try to go to something you normally wouldn’t – this night is about new experiences. Being near to Vancouver means that there’s always eclectic venues so try checking out something at the Rio, Vogue, or Bitmore. Last time I staycationed we tried out Peruvian food at ChiCha (delicious!) and then saw the Kitty Nights burlesque show at the Bitmore Cabaret (really good energy and lots of fun!) Dinner at Chi Cha: Approximately $60 for two Kitty Night Cabaret: $9 admission per person

Day 7: On the last day of my staycation I’d want to wind down and just really enjoy some peace and quiet before regular life starts up again. I’d pack a picnic and my book then hike somewhere with a great view. Burnaby Mountain has some easy trails with lots of stop points for taking in the scenery and appreciating what a wonderful week it’s been. Cost: Free


Gail Vaz-Oxlade

Gail Vaz-Oxlade wants YOU! Join to get smarter about your money and help others get smarter about theirs. Isn’t it time we eliminated financial illiteracy? Come find me on Google+ and on Twitter.

Twitter Google+ 

Tagged :

10 Responses to “Staycations Galore, Episode 4”

  1. I don’t want to be a negative nancy but when we go out for ice cream for a family of four it is usually $17.00 I have no idea where people are getting ice cream for $10. or Lori $15. for five people. Love all the ideas people have put out there though.

  2. I love these, just proves you need a little creativity.

    We lived away from family for years so when they came for a visit, we did all the tourist things. I mentioned on another stay-cation post, we are moving this year so no funds for a get away. I am going to google my new city’s visitor information for ideas.

  3. Tasya – In our area can get 2 small cones at dairy queen for 5.65 including tax which would make it around 11.00 for four. I think that is expensive, but not compared to other ice-cream places.

  4. Tasya – yes I have to agree at the outrageous ice cream prices at some places. With some experimenting around we found a great place on our way up north that has kiddy cones (which are larger than many small or medium cones elsewhere) for $1.75 each. That is our designated ice cream stop now. $5.25 for the three of us, and a decent amount of ice cream, perfect. It is a little independent Mom and Pop place where they greet us and our dog each time.

  5. avatar Sharen Skelly Says:
    June 26, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    You can cut costs by purchasing a large tub of ice cream and cones and some gummy candy treats to top it off. Have the cone at home.

  6. Tasya- also if you join the email list for Dairy Queen you can get buy one get one free coupons. There’s always a way to avoid paying full price on anything! 🙂

  7. I agree 100% with Cathy’s quote: “Half the fun is having no real structure”! This is what I love about the summer and vacations – no schedule!

  8. Hello people if you can’t earn any money online try
    – bluehand roulette system – it earns me extra money everyday, just google it

  9. What i don’t understood is in fact how you are not really much more well-liked than you might be now.
    You’re very intelligent. You recognize thus significantly in relation to this
    subject, made me personally consider it from numerous varied angles.

    Its like women and men aren’t fascinated until it is one
    thing to do with Woman gaga! Your individual stuffs nice.
    Always deal with it up!

  10. I read a lot of interesting posts here. Probably
    you spend a lot of time writing, i know how to save you a lot of time, there
    is an online tool that creates readable, google friendly articles in seconds, just search in google – k2seotips unlimited content

Leave a Reply

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.