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Stay cation: Why your vacation doesn't have to break your budget

The phrase "stay cation" is all too common for the segment of the population that schedules time away from work, but doesn't have the financial means to take an actual vacation.
But, is that really the case?
Yes, the stay at home vacation is perfectly acceptable for the cash strapped consumer who might decide their two week hiatus from the office is the time to clean out the garage, catch up on their recorded shows or reorganize that pesky silverware drawer and start tossing out all those old knives and forks.
Doesn't really sound too much fun, right?
That's because it isn't, but you don't necessarily have to deprive yourself of a vacation just because you believe you can't afford when in actuality it might not be quite as expensive as you think. The first order of business for booking a trip is to exhaust all avenues as far as where you're going as it relates to where you're staying.

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Maybe you have family in Florida, a great aunt in Alaska or a best friend who is living it up in California. Those spots might be great places to start when you're deciding where to go. Chances are if you ask, they'll have a spare room for you for at least a few nights, which means you'll save as much as $800-1000 on a room for four or five days. Granted, you might have your heart set on Mexico, but what not take something over nothing and shack up with your extended family for a little while? The other upside is having someone familiar with the area and perhaps even the means to get to and from the beach or other locations without having to rent a vehicle.
If you don't have the ability to stay with someone, you can always use the power of the internet and start finding flights, rentals and hotels at a lower fare with the help of the slew of web sites designed to find you a wonderful deal. From Priceline to Travelocity, these domains dominant the vacation planning process, and some times waiting as long as possible to book actually works in your favor, and could be the difference between saving hundreds of dollars or promptly booking and spending more than you should.
Often overlooked beyond hotels is renting homes from people, which tends to actually cost less than hotels if you're staying for a longer period of time. For example, a home rental in Wilmington, North Carolina, can cost you about $150 per night versus double that for a room at a neighboring hotel.
So if you still want to stay home as part of your "vacation" as a preference, do so with a clear conscious that you didn't make that decision without actually thinking through the planning process beyond assuming you don't have the extra money.

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