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Five Ideas to Liven Up Your Staycation

written by: •edited by: Niki Fears•updated: 2/18/2011

Five ideas for how to turn your stay-at-home vacation into an adventure.

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    Staycation 101

    Staycations are vacations, minus the travel. Whether you're staycationing because of budget considerations, environmental concerns or a simple lack of time to travel, creativity is the key to seeing your hometown in a new light. Take the following five staycation ideas and run with them; you might be surprised by where you end up.

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    Learn About Local Flora and Fauna

    A staycation is the perfect opportunity to view the world around you through new eyes, and some of your best staycation ideas can come from the calendar pages of your local paper. Go for an outing with your local chapter of the National Audubon Society, or find a local Native Plant Society to educate you about local plants or visit a local wildlife conservation center. Sometimes that means going to the zoo, but if you do a little bit of digging you might also find animal sanctuaries in your area.

    At a loss for where to find nature-oriented staycation adventures near you? Start by contacting the staff of any State or National Parks you might have in your area. Other likely places to look include your local Department of Parks and Recreation, science or nature centers in your area and your local Chamber of Commerce.

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    Volunteer on a Farm

    Education doesn't always come from a book. One of our best, and most educational, staycation ideas is volunteering on a local farm. Online resources like WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) help link willing volunteers around the world with farms that welcome the idea of staycation helpers. We may buy food at the supermarket, but that's not where it starts. Getting a taste of farm work during your staycation will give you a chance to experience something new without having to travel farm from home.

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    Hold an Amazing Race in Your Hometown

    Ever hear of the CBS reality series The Amazing Race? Teams of contestants race around the world on limited funds, visiting a series of specific places and completing designated tasks along the way. The slowest teams are eliminated as the series progresses. If you can get a few more people interesting in your staycation ideas, consider staging your own "Amazing Race" style adventures close to home. Challenge each team or individual to visit a scavenger-hunt list of places around town. Make your race eco-friendly by restricting travel to mass transit or human or animal-powered locomotion, and level the playing field by placing a limit on how much money each team can spend.

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    Turn Your Home Into a Spa

    Who doesn't love the idea of a spa retreat? Turning your home into a spa for a day--or two--won't just save you money on expensive spa fees, it'll also provide the ultimate staycation. It's surprisingly easy to make your own spa supplies at home, so you'll also be able to use organic ingredients for the healthiest experience possible.

    No spa experience would be complete without peace and quiet. Consider packing your spouse or children--if you have them--off on one of the other staycation ideas so you can relax at home.

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    Get Campy

    You don't have to be an epic outdoor adventurer to sleep beneath the stars. Nor do you need an RV. Sites like gocampingamerica.com and reserveamerica.com will help you find nearby campgrounds. A family-size tent, a set of sleeping bags, a camp stove with fuel, munchies, firewood and a lighter are about all you need to toss in the car to get ready for your outing. Although this sounds like one of the more expensive staycation ideas, once you're past the initial investment in camping gear the adventure is nearly free--and you'll be able to use the gear repeatedly for years.