With high gas prices across the country, you’re not alone if you’re feeling hesitant to embark on a long road trip in your camper van. And while it might be a while before prices at the fuel pump begin to go back down, this doesn’t mean you have to completely scrap your spring and summer vacation plans! One budget-friendly option to consider? Planning a staycation in your camper van. By vacationing locally, you’ll be able to significantly cut down on fuel costs. Meanwhile, you’ll enjoy a unique opportunity to see your hometown from an entirely new perspective.
Interested in planning a van staycation? We’ve got some tips and tricks for a more successful and enjoyable trip—whether you’ll be vacationing alone, with a partner, or with your whole family.
Start With a Great Campground
An excellent staycation starts with a great campground where you can park your camper van, unwind, and rest your head each night. If you’ve done a fair amount of traveling in your camper van, you’ve probably stayed at your fair share of campgrounds all across the country. However, it’s a little different when you’re looking for a campground close to your home.
Take some time to read reviews of local campgrounds, making an effort to find one that’s centrally located to the attractions your town has to offer. This will minimize the amount of driving you need to do (and may even make it possible to walk or take public transportation to some locations). Likewise, you’ll want to be as comfortable as possible—so be sure that the campground you select has all the hookups you need to enjoy your camping experience.
Budget For at Least One Splurge
We get it. One of the biggest reasons you’re planning a staycation is to save money. However, with the right planning and budgeting, you can absolutely save money on your trip while still enjoying a “splurge” here and there. Just be sure to decide ahead of time what you’d like to spend a little extra on (and how much you’re comfortable spending).
Whether it’s a special paid experience at a local attraction, a meal at a five-star restaurant, or a special souvenir/keepsake, it’s okay to let go and treat yourself to something you normally wouldn’t.
Research Special Discounts and Promotions
Part of the reason you’re taking a vacation is to save money; you’ll already be cutting back on a lot of your spending by slashing fuel costs, but why stop there? If you have plans to visit any of your area’s most popular attractions, take some time to research discounts and promotions that may be going on during your staycation.
For example, many museums, zoos, and other attractions offer free or heavily discounted admission on certain days of the month. If you have a travel credit card, you may also want to check your eligibility for additional discounts on certain categories of purchases (such as sports tickets or amusement park admission).
Explore Nature Trails and Parks
Depending on the weather forecast for your staycation, this can also be an incredible opportunity to explore some local parks and nature trails that you may not have experienced before. As an added bonus, these also tend to be free experiences (although some state and/or national parks may require a small parking/admission fee per vehicle).
Hitting up some local hiking trails, going canoeing along a nearby river, or even visiting a new playground with your little ones can make for a memorable experience. You might even consider packing a picnic lunch to enjoy while you’re out and make a day of it!
Pretend You’re a Tourist
Ultimately, getting the most out of a staycation really boils down to embracing the idea of being a tourist in your own city. If you go into your staycation with the mindset that you’ve seen all there is to see in your town (or that you know everything there is to know), you’re going to miss out.
When you visit local attractions, don’t hesitate to ask if there are any special experiences or tours available to out-of-towners. If your city offers guided tours, take one! These are not just for tourists, and you might be surprised at how much you learn about your city.
Try Out a New Restaurant
While you might cook and enjoy most of your meals back at the campground, make an effort to try out at least one new (or new-to-you) local restaurant during your staycation. Whether it’s a new steakhouse that you’ve been wanting to try or a hole-in-the-wall diner with great reviews, venturing out for a meal can be a great way to give yourself a break from cooking while immersing yourself in the local cuisine.
As an added bonus, you might just discover a new favorite restaurant that you can add to your rotation even once you return home from your staycation!
Leave Your Work at Home
As tempting as it may be to bring your laptop or other work from home with you on your staycation, this kind of thing defeats the purpose! Treat your staycation just as you would a vacation that you’ve spent thousands of dollars on to travel hundreds (or thousands!) of miles away. This means setting up that “away” message on your work email, leaving your laptop at home, and resolving to stay unplugged as much as possible during your trip.
Even if you’re planning your staycation for a weekend when you’d normally be off work anyway, make sure your team knows that you’ll be unavailable (if possible) so you can get the most of your experience.
Enjoy New Experiences at Local Attractions
Even if you’ve visited your local zoo, museum, or other big attraction dozens of times in the past, there may be new experiences to explore during your trip. With this in mind, don’t forego visiting a popular local attraction just because you’ve been there recently. Take some time to research what’s new there, as well as paid experiences that may be available to you.
For example, maybe you’ve seen the penguin exhibit at your local zoo many times. However, your zoo might offer a special package that allows you to do an exclusive meet-and-greet with some of the penguins. This type of experience may be worth the extra cost and take your staycation to the next level.
Begin the Countdown to Rediscover Your Hometown!
When you plan a staycation, you’ll save not only on fuel costs, but on travel time, wear and tear on your camper van, and more. Many people who plan staycations as opposed to “traditional” camper van vacations also find that they can save on some of their time off with their employer, so consider this a potential added bonus as well.
Meanwhile, you might gain a whole new respect and appreciation for your hometown. At the end of the day, it’s all about taking the right steps to plan your staycation so that you and your loved ones get as much out of it as possible. We hope these tips will help as you start planning your camper van staycation.
Still searching for the perfect camper van? Rec Van has you covered! Explore our inventory today.