Ok, so technically a staycation means you stay home and not in a hotel. I get that. But I'm including "close to home" and "family friendly" as well as "budget" into the definition of that term. Especially since it is coming up as mis-spelled, validating that "staycation" is a made up word and I can define as I wish.
Our most recent staycation was spent at Mohegan Sun Casino. Its close to home. We were given three free nights, making it "budget friendly" for us. You may not get three free nights and an upgrade to a suite. But it doesn't hurt to ask for it. If you live in the area of Uncasville, CT. and you visit the casino from time to time, get a players card, get a host and see what they can do for you. You may end up with a free vacation. You may not get anything. But like all hotels, they want to fill up their rooms, so going there during the week, when there is not a big event going on, you can sometimes get rooms for a very good price. Disclaimer: I do not recommend this staycation to you if you have a problem gambling, there are other places where your family will have more fun with you. We did not gamble at all, enjoying the other amenities instead.
Everyone keeps asking us, "did you take the kids?" Yes, we took the kids. And we did not use the babysitting service (although we checked it out and it seemed quite secure). We had a relaxing and fun stay where we spent quality time with all three of our kids. It is not the first place you would think to go if you have a family trip planned, but "family friendly" is what it can be. I packed a bag of food: a loaf of bread, PB & Nutella (part of the food pyramid in our household), a dozen banana muffins, apple sauces, soda, beer & wine - you know, the typical stuff. We saved a ton by asking for a (free) fridge in our room and eating breakfast in there. The kids ate PB & Nutella for lunch and my husband and I ordered wraps and we all ate by the pool. The potted palms gave it a sub-tropical feel, and it wasn't over-crowed with screaming kids or rowdy teens. But there were some kids, just enough to make me feel like I wasn't the only parent bringing her kids to a casino and giving my kids someone else to play with. We went to ben & Jerry's for ice-cream and brought pizza to our room. There was a youth dance competition going on and we watched that. Free entertainment and the girls loved it. The last day we were there we gave the girls each $10 to use in the arcade. One of them hit the jackpot of 1000 tickets and they each left with a toy (Not a $10, toy, mind you, but it was still fun).
Staycationing with your kids is so rewarding. You will never staycation the same way you did before you had kids, but you enjoy things from their point of view. You don't have the added drama of a long car ride/plane ride, or the hustle-busstle "must-see-everything" feeling that you get from a trip away at a theme park or other coveted family hot spot. You get more time to bond with them and get to know them. And really, kids like to just keep things simple. A day playing with their mommy or daddy is something they do not normally get. And my kids can't get enough of it.
Enjoy your next staycation. Think outside the rectangular box that we call a suitcase. Then tell me about it so I might try it too!