If you are anything like me, you are not swimming in extra cash. All I wanted to do this summer was go on a nice vacation and really enjoy being out of school before the next crazy semester starts. Unfortunately, my bank account had other plans. My summer, thus far, has been spent working multiple jobs to pay my bills and just get by.
Enter the power of the STAYCATION! For those of you living under a rock, a staycation is like a vacation except you don’t go anywhere. You stay home. Sounds boring, right? Well, it can be. But it can also be just as relaxing as if you went away to Mexico for a week.
I’m taking a staycation next month, right before the Fall semester begins. The plan is to recharge my batteries so I’m ready to conquer the midterms, finals and multiple group projects over the following 16 weeks. If you’re interested in taking a staycation, I’ve got 5 tips to help you make it productive, fun and cheap.
- Go dark. Turn off your cell phone & laptop. Shut down the XBox and TV. Unplug from technology, if only for a day. Heck, if only for a few hours of the day. The constant notifications on your phone have been proven to stress you out. By unplugging from the world for a little bit, you’ll be more likely to take in what is around you, start that book you’ve been wanting to pick up or pay attention to your loved ones. You’ll feel better for it, trust me.
- Learn something. As college students, we’re forced to take classes all semester long that we don’t necessarily want to take but have to in order to get that degree. Maybe there is something you’ve been dying to learn though you didn’t want to pay for it. For me, that’s learning to code. I call myself a baby coder. This summer I’ve been taking free online classes through Khan Academy to up my game. It’s a huge resume booster. There are free classes on Khan Academy, CodeAcademy and others to booster that skill. Plus, as SBU students, we all get free access to Lynda.com courses. Learn something that you WANT to learn and make the most of your time off.
- Make some money. Yes, you can take a vacation and make some money in the process. Go through your apartment, room, closets or whatever your surroundings are and start purging. For clothes, my rule is that if I haven’t worn it in a year, out it goes. Take all the stuff you don’t need and have a yard sale. Don’t have enough stuff to justify a yard sale? Partner up with some friends or neighbors and have a yard sale together. Grab your beach chair, plop down in the front yard with a glass of lemonade (in true style) and let strangers peruse your old stuff. Put any money you make from the sale right into your savings account.
- Have a FREE day. Grab your squad and have a day where you do as many things that are free as possible. Maybe you plan it on a day that all the museums are free? Go to an art opening where they usually have free admission and free food & drinks. Check out a free movie at the local library. Take all the leftovers from your fridge and dine al fresco in the park. Make it a game to see how many activities you can fit into a day that cost you zero dollars.
- Be your own beach. You can’t do a staycation without some true R&R. But on Long Island, going to the beach isn’t free. We have a solution. Put on a beach playlist from Spotify, throw on your Ray Bans and lounge in the backyard while soaking up the sun. With sunscreen of course. Nothing glamorous about skin cancer. Mobilize this plan and take the whole experience to a park with a pond so you get the real water experience. You could also make friends with someone who has a pool and subtly suggest this plan to them so they invite you over. Whatever works.
The point is, you can have a relaxing, vacation experience without having to go away or break the bank. Someday, when you’re done with college and at your big, fancy job, you can take fancy vacations that make up for all of these cheap ones. Until then, be smart, be savvy, and save money.