Gas prices are no laughing matter for most families. This makes it difficult to travel on a budget. Road trips used to be the “cheap” vacation of choice, but now fuel costs are making even family road trips a financial burden for many. That doesn’t mean you have to skip a family vacation all together. In fact, you may be surprised at how many unique activities are only a short drive away. Here are some tips for creating a staycation the family will remember for years to come.

Visitors’ Centers

When traveling to other states you most likely stop by the local visitors centers when you arrive.  The centers are filled with pamphlets with activities from across the state and sometimes even money-saving coupons. Why not think like a tourist? Check out the surrounding areas for activities and discounts available in a 200 mile radius. Many visitors’ centers have moved online and visiting your state’s tourism website can be another great resource.

Google Maps

Google Maps provides you the opportunity to see an entire view of your area. Zoom out and see what types of parks, bodies of water, and landmarks are posted. Creating a day trip plan is easy in Google Maps. Simply go to the app or website and select “Get Directions”. Input your starting address and then enter in any destinations you would like to stop along the way. You can add as many destinations as you like by clicking the “Add Destination” box. Google will populate a route for you and you are good to go.

Think Outside the Box

Even if you have lived in a state for your entire life, there are most likely things you don’t know about it. Take a guided tour and learn something new. Do some agrotourism or maybe a little geocaching.  If you are limited in the distance you can travel within your state and must stick to your local city, look for local businesses that offer tours or educational stops. You can always spend some quality time at home with the family with these ideas.

A Staycation Adventure

I have lived in Oklahoma my entire life and thought I had pretty much seen it all. However, my family recently went on a staycation and never went more than 180 miles from our house and experienced a wide array of activities. We went crystal digging at the Great Salt Plains, took a cave tour at Alabaster Caverns (the United States only public gypsum cave), and went off-roading at the Little Sahara (pictured above). All this was in my home state and incredibly fun for the whole family. Best of all, everything except the guided cave tour was completely free.

Have you tried a staycation in your area? If so, what are some of your favorite memories?