4 Great Ways To Have The Perfect, Cheap Staycation

I moved to Williamsburg Brooklyn

I’m no stranger to staycations. Sometimes I don’t have the energy to get on a plane (rare!), but if I want to get out of the house, I’ll book a local hotel. When I lived in Los Angeles, I shacked up in Ace Hotel, Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills, and 1 Hotel West Hollywood, which were among some of my favorites. In my year in New Orleans, I loved Windsor Court, and here in New York City, I can’t even begin to tell you how many staycations I’ve had. Doing it for so long, I know how to have the perfect, cheap staycation.

Why should you should have a cheap staycation now?

A staycation (a mini local vacation) is unarguably cheaper than a regular vacation. For instance, rather than book a ticket for a vacation in another state, you save that money. If you have the urge to travel, stay local, because honestly? You know the environment well, and there are so many great deals for locals. You can still get an amazing vacation all by having the perfect, cheap staycation that will save you hundreds, even thousands of dollars.

Pet-friendly St. Regis Bahia Beach

One reason why people in general staycation is because it’s insanely cheap and convenient. Many young folk can’t afford travel to far-flung destinations, and older professionals are tied to a 9-to-5 work week with limited vacation time. That said, they still want an “escape.”

Staycations are the future. While “mini-vacations” or “micro-vacations” have been rising in travel (even before the pandemic), when travelers go on very short trips over a weekend, these same travelers are now literally just hopping in an Uber for a staycation. Why? Many great hotels, restaurants, tours, and attractions are opening in their very city, so they don’t have to go far… and they can save on airfare or car rentals.

Btw: I LIVE for this weekender bag. Check it out on Amazon. Super affordable and convenient, and there’s so many other options.

Anyway, with a car, you can also have the best travel experience with a staycation — if you plan it right.

Road Trip During Covid

Here are 4 great ways to have the perfect cheap staycation

Call the hotel to get the best rate.

perfect and cheapest staycation

Ultimately, a hotel stay is an experience unto itself. The hotel scene is growing fast across the country, and hotels are tapping celebrity chefs, cool spa partners, and many amenities and attractions and events that speak to the local.

While hotel rates have significantly dropped during the pandemic, you can still get a better deal by calling the hotel directly. Yes, that’s right. Once you choose the hotel you want to stay at, call up the hotel and ask to speak to the reservations manager. Explain how much you love that hotel and just want a quick getaway and have a specific budget.

The job of the hotel reservations manager is to FILL UP ROOMS, so they will do whatever they can to meet your budget. Trust me. This is one of the best tips for the perfect and cheapest staycation nobody ever does, and it works. They won’t give you a mind-blowing rate, but they will give you one that will be much better than what you find online.

Also, remember some destinations, like Nevada, Arizona, Oklahoma and Israel, are known to offer local rates and deals at hotels, so be sure to know what those rates are and take advantage.

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2. Maximize your time and free stuff at the hotel for a cheap staycation.

perfect and cheapest staycation

It’s shocking to me that some guests at hotels don’t look to see what free things are offered. There are so many! From fitness classes to happy hours, hotels will almost always offer a few free amenities for guests.

Always check with the concierge or front desk to see what things they offer for free, because it could save you a ton of money, and you could have amazing experiences you may have not known about before arriving.

St Regis Bahia Beach

For instance, Kimpton is known for its free happy hour. Eastwind in the Catskills had this amazing sauna (pictured). Beach resorts are known to offer free morning yoga. Some hotels offer free mini-spa treatments to get you to buy a package. Listen, you’re already spending money staying there, you might as well maximize your money’s worth. This is one of the best ways to have the perfect and cheapest staycation.

One other thing: Take advantage of your time there. It always baffles me when I check into a five-star hotel with a friend, and they want to literally spend the entire day out. Take advantage of what the hotel offers, like its indoor pool or cozy lounge or rooftop bar or bowling room.

3. Do things you would never typically do in your city. 

Is NYC dead?
Outdoor Patio B On Top Rooftop Bar Gansevoort Hotel.

If you do things you would never typically do in the city you live, you make your staycation feel more like vacation rather than the same ol routine. For instance, in New York City, I would never go to The Edge or kayak in Central Park unless I was with friends from out of town. But with a staycation, I have a good excuse!

Some of these things aren’t cheap (like the rooftop at Gansevoort, which I went to before the pandemic, but it was awesome and had great views), so always make sure to check the website to see if they offer deals for locals, and your local paper, like Time Out, will likely have listings.

Our favorite cushion for your car seat if you’re driving.

4. Put away your phone! 

rooftop pool DC
Rosewood Washington DC

Listen. You’re on vacation. Make it feel like vacation. Put away your phone and observe everything around you. Take long walks, sit by the river, go to the beach, meet other locals. Do the sound healing thing a hotel might offer. Do whatever you can to make it feel like vacation.

Sometimes, when I’m on a staycation, I am just tempted to pick up my laptop and do work. No! It defeats the purpose. So, make sure you really invest in the time you carved out for yourself. Sit in the tub and watch a movie. Order room service. Make a cheap staycation feel like the vacation you deserve!

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Jimmy Im has traveled to 113 countries, stayed in over 600 hotels and has flown a million airmiles. He lives in New York City.

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