May 23, 2008 -- With rising prices for everything from food to fuel, more families are staying home this Memorial Day weekend. While traditional vacations may be out this summer, "staycations" are taking their place.
About 50 percent of American travelers are changing their summer travel plans because of soaring fuel prices and sticking closer to home, according to a recent survey by the travel Web site TripAdvisor.
Many say they'll be relaxing in their own yard, such as Ryan and Andrea Day of Lowell, Ind.
"It's kind of like roughing it. We have friends that make fun of us, you have to be here to see it," Andrea Day said.
In sunny San Jose, Calif., the Rich family is choosing local tourist draws like their new neighborhood lake.
"We want to give the kids the full experience, but you don't have to travel out of the city to enjoy what we have here," said Lisa Rich.
Tina Thompson of Natchez, Miss., is making a local amusement park, Bayou Water Park, her kids' summer spot.
"They love that. That would suffice greatly as opposed to going to the beach," she said.
In St. Louis, the Kunsemiller family built their own drive-in theater.
"Having all this stuff right at the tips of our fingers has actually kept us home, kept us from going on vacations. We've just been able to enjoy ourselves at home," Jeff Kunsemiller found.
Many parents, in fact, find the staycation more relaxing than going away, especially if they have young children.
I turned my backyard into a "family decathlon," that includes Wiffle balls, a tent, bobbing for apples, hula hoops and a picnic area complete with blanket and barbecue.
How to Have a Great Staycation
Here are some other tips for a successful staycation:
Schedule start and end dates. Just as you would with a vacation, schedule a beginning and ending for your staycation to make it feel like an official vacation. Otherwise, it runs the risk of feeling like just another string of nights in front of the tube.
Pack that time with activities. Plan a daily activity, and make sure something takes you out of the house — for fun — every day.
Declare a "choratorium." That means no chores! Don't make the bed, vacuum, clean out the closets, pull weeds — nothing. You're on vacation!
Take staycation photos or videos, just as you would if you went away from home for your vacation.