Ultimate budget holiday: the staycation

The economy, possibly one of the least interesting topics on the planet, has been endlessly discussed since the onset of the global financial crisis, a little over a year ago.

Australians have been barraged with a range of varying economic facts and figures, some creating panic over job losses and economic doom and some (the news of $900 cash bonuses) creating widespread joy.

Recently, we've been hit with an interest rate rise, meaning higher mortgage repayments.

With Christmas around the corner, the cost of presents and preparations as well as increasing mortgage repayments could suffocate the annual family holiday plans.

So why not replace the expensive vacation (flights, hotels, restaurants) with a staycation, a vacation where you stay home?

Staycations can be fun, cheap and hassle-free.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

Firstly, hit hotel lobbies and information and tourist centres and stock up on brochures on things to do in your city or town.

Imagine that you are a tourist in your own part of the country and think of the must-do activities and must-see attractions - parks, historical buildings, art galleries, museums, amusement parks, popular shopping destinations, beaches or walking trails.

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Sydneysiders have probably driven over the iconic Harbour Bridge many times, but how many have strolled across it and endeavoured to climb over it?

The Google search engine can be a helpful staycation tool and just typing the name of your state or city in the search bar can bring up hundreds of things to do.

Food, arts and crafts markets as well as film, food, history, music and art festivals are held during the year in every city, with some cities offering summer outdoor film screenings and night markets.

Depending on your budget, head to the theatre for some live entertainment, whether it be watching the ballet at the Sydney Opera House or a small production at a local theatre.

A drive out of town can also broaden your scope, and depending on where you live, you can head to a retreat, or go for a mountain hike or pack a picnic and take some snaps of the spectacular natural wonders, such as the Blue Mountains in NSW, the 12 (or less) Apostles of Victoria, the rainforests of Queensland or the wineries of South Australia.

Why not cross an activity that you have always wanted to do off your bucket list?

Websites such as Redballoondays.com.au offer thousands of things to do, from the adventurous or death-defying activities such as horse riding, parasailing, kayaking, snorkelling, hot air ballooning, circus skill classes and bungy jumping to tasty activities such as cooking classes, sushi-making classes, wine or cheese-tasting tours and cocktail-making classes.

For those wanting to lounge around at home, how about buying a cookbook of exotic foods and attempt to recreate them, before devouring them with your favourite drop of wine.

Perhaps you could read those old books that have been sitting on the shelf, waiting to be read, or roam the local library for old classics to read. Maybe you could purchase some new books that catch your eye.

A staycation can be the perfect opportunity to learn a new skill, either by buying a how-to book on craft, drawing, photography or speaking a new language, or even enrolling in a short course, to learn a new artistic skill or dance move.

Otherwise, you could use the time to improve your living space, building a DIY shed in the backyard, rearranging the living room or finally cleaning out those wardrobes.

Why not invest in a feng shui book or a guide on decluttering and reinvent the look and feel of your home?

Staycations also provide a good opportunity for you to take the time out to look after yourself.

Visit a therapeutic day spa and indulge by treating yourself to a massage or visit the gym each day of the week and give your body a workout.

Perhaps you could develop your spiritual side, participating in tai chi or yoga classes or visiting an ashram for a few days to get involved in some deep meditation.

The rule to the staycation is that there are no rules.

Live your daydreams. Let your imagination run wild - without burning a hole in your wallet.

AAP

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