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WHEN YOU’RE TRYING TO save money, one big expense that’s easy to cut is summer vacation. Spending thousands of dollars traveling around for several days, staying in hotels, eating at expensive restaurants and visiting pricey tourist spots can be fun, but it can also put a damper on your financial plans.

One popular alternative to the expensive summer vacation is the “staycation,” during which you take time off work and spend your vacation days at home. This can be a nice alternative to travel that lets you catch up on some hobbies and other personal interests. But for many people, it can be a dull vacation.

A nice compromise between the two extremes is a “near-cation.” This term simply means that you’re enjoying activities near your home that are a bit far away for regular visitation, but close enough that you can spend the night at home. Destinations within a one- to three-hour radius are perfect for a “near-cation.” If you wish, you can make portions of your “near-cation” into overnight trips, too.

There are several wonderful advantages to a “near-cation.” Read on to learn more about vacationing close to home.


You have tons of flexibility when it comes to planning. In essence, “near-cations” are sequences of day trips and overnight trips to different interesting places in your region with optional days at home in between. You can organize and mix those destinations however you want. Maybe you’ll do an overnight trip while seeing a concert three hours away, return home for a day around the house to work on your hobbies and have a great dinner party. You can then plan a day trip with the kids to a baseball game a couple of hours away, followed by another day near home doing family things. Follow that with a final day going to a few museums in a city an hour away in a different direction. You can do all of those things and mix-and-match and order them according to your own preferences and tastes. Activities can be as relaxed or as intense as you wish.

Another advantage of a “near-cation” is that, like a staycation, it can be broken into pieces if needed. Let’s say you have a two-week vacation scheduled but there’s something you must be in town for on the fifth day. A “near-cation” can easily accommodate that by simply scheduling an off-day on that fifth day.


You can make it inherently social by planning some legs with family and friends. Since a “near-cation” is naturally broken up into little pieces, you can plan some of the legs in coordination with family and friends. If you’re looking at the sample schedule above, maybe you could go to a ballgame with friends. During one of those days off, you could plan a low-cost dinner party and movie night with a bunch of buddies, or perhaps one of those destinations could involve meeting some friends or family in that area. A “near-cation” is a great opportunity to build all kinds of social connections.

You have many opportunities to keep it cheap. For each part of a “near-cation,” you can pack food before you leave, meaning that you only have to eat at restaurants when you choose to do so, not because there are limited options. You don’t have to stay at a hotel, either, as your home is your lodging most nights, though you can pencil in overnight trips as desired. Since “near-cations” can cover a pretty large radius, you can also be more selective in terms of what you choose to visit, keeping the costs low.

The advantage that a “near-cation” has over a staycation is that you’re not just staying at home or close to home every day. You have a wide range of places to visit and activities to enjoy within a three-hour radius of your home, which likely includes tons of places you’ve never visited and many things you’ve never seen. You can take advantage of tools such as your state’s tourism guide to find destinations worth visiting that are near you and that you may have overlooked in the past. This kind of vacation blends most of the advantages of a staycation, including flexibility and inexpensiveness, with the perks of visiting new places and exploring new things.

Consider giving a “near-cation” a shot this summer or next. You may find that it balances everything you want in a summer vacation.