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From USAA 

PicnicFlight delays, lost luggage, packed tourist traps and thin wallets. It's enough to make many Americans stay home, especially in this tough economy. But who says you have to leave town to have fun? With some thought and planning, a stay-at-home vacation could be just what you need to relax and save money during your time off.

Here are eight ideas to create an unforgettable vacation without leaving your city's limits.

  1. Set a budget. You may want to stay home some days, and splurge others. Or even start saving for a vacation away in the future: In its 2008 Annual Vacation Costs Survey, AAA recommended a travel budget of $244 per day for lodging and meals for two adults traveling in North America.

  2. Leave your beaten path. Visit a nearby attraction that you've always wanted to experience, but never have had the time. Check your city's convention and visitors bureau or chamber of commerce for days open, hours and fees.

  3. Have a movie marathon. Pick a movie theme, whether it's a gangster saga, a black-and-white classic or anything in between. If you're up for a challenge, take on the entire "Lord of the Rings" or "Star Wars" collection back-to-back. Pop some kettle corn, enjoy a cold beverage and put your feet up.

  4. Take advantage of deals for kids. With no need to worry about work or school the next day, treat yourself and your children to a kids-eat-free or kids-stay-free night.

  5. Free your inner chef. If you love to cook but rarely have time, now's your chance to tackle that homemade lobster-stuffed filet mignon and dark chocolate soufflé. Not a cook? Hire a personal chef to prepare a meal just for you and your significant other in the privacy of your home. Don't sweat the cost; it pales in comparison to a trip to the Caribbean.

  6. Call a cleaning crew. You don't mop the floors and change the sheets on your other vacations, so don't start now. Paying a housekeeper to handle the chores will make your week at home seem more like a getaway, and give you more time and energy for other adventures.

  7. Pay for pampering. Unwind with a massage, then dine in style and spend the night at a downtown hotel.

  8. Go on a dining treasure hunt. Pick a food — steak, sushi, pizza, milkshake – you name it. Try five different restaurants in five days, scoring each delicacy for pros and cons. Compare notes when the last bite's been chewed. Again, it beats what you'd pay for airline tickets, hotels, three meals a day and taxi fare if you were vacationing away from home.



posted 4/29/2009

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