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Exploring Locally: Plan an Exciting Van Staycation in Your Home State

As the warm season rolls in, it’s the perfect time to break the routine and rediscover the wonders of your home state by exploring locally. Why venture far when a treasure trove of experiences awaits just around the corner? Whether you’re a seasoned van lifer or just starting out, exploring locally in your own state offers an array of adventures that could rival any cross-country expedition.

I know what you’re thinking: Why in the world would I want to explore the place where I live? Here’s the thing, though: There are tons of surprising and fun things to do in each state, and most people haven’t even seen a fraction of them.

“We don’t have to travel thousands of miles for adventure. A getaway in our own city can be just as refreshing. Here are some powerful staycation benefits.” —Vanilla Papers

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So go ahead and get that van ready to hit the road, book some in-state campgrounds, and get ready to have a blast while using the tips below to enhance your in-state explorations.

Schedule Time Off for Exploring Locally

Because you’re exploring locally, it may be tempting to try to squeeze your getaways into short weekends or even do work between activities. The problem with this is that it never allows you to fully relax the way you might on another vacation.

Instead of being one of the 52% of Americans with unused vacation time, try to get in at least a few long weekends—and maybe even a good, week-long adventure—within your state.

Budget for Fun

Another thing many people do when exploring locally is fail to budget as they would for an out-of-state vacation. This means fewer fun activities and attractions. Don’t do this to yourself. Make sure you budget for plenty of sightseeing, so you can fully enjoy your in-state getaways.

Book Exciting Campgrounds

If you’re the kind of traveler who tends to use their van to explore the attractions this country has to offer, you may forget that even just camping can be a fun experience. If you find that none of the attractions in a particular area of your state really catch your eye, consider booking an especially exciting campground instead.

Choose one with a water park, one attached to a theme park, or one located inside a really cool state or national park. By ensuring there are things to do within your campground, you won’t have to leave to have the time of your life.

Check Out the Tourist Sites

When living in a given place, it’s easy to get wrapped up in your day-to-day life and miss out on even the biggest tourist attractions in your area. If there are big attractions in your state that you’ve missed out on seeing despite living nearby, this is the time to check those out.

Find the theme parks, museums, zoos, aquariums, and national parks that visitors make a point of seeing, and make a point of seeing them yourself.

Look Beyond the Obvious

Have you already seen all the main attractions? Would you prefer to go down the road less traveled? Or do you just want some extra fun to add to the bigger (and likely more expensive) attractions? Try looking off the beaten path.

Look into visiting state parks, small-town museums, and even city parks. Ask the locals of a new town what there is to do, attend a small festival, or check out what the local libraries are offering.

Find New Foods

Everyone has to eat. Why not turn some of your meals this summer into adventures?

Every state has hundreds of small, local restaurants and coffee shops that are just waiting to be discovered. Pick a new town to visit, read some reviews to find the best eateries in that town, and get ready to please your taste buds.

You’ll have a fun time, learn about some new spots in your state, and fill your belly all in one go.

Look for Discounts

As mentioned above, exploring locally will cost some money. That said, there are ways to save while still having an amazing time seeing all your state has to offer.


Our first suggestion is to look into passes. If you purchase the right passes, you could potentially save a good chunk of change

For instance, many states offer state park passes that give pass holders free admission to every park. Some even give camping discounts, making this investment even more worthwhile.

We usually recommend reciprocal programs for national museums, theme parks, and zoos in this section. However, because most of these types of places have restrictions stating that reciprocal benefits cannot be used close to home—usually within a specific radius of miles—this may not be the best option. Instead, look for in-state reciprocal passes.

Finally, if your state has many national parks, you might consider the “America the Beautiful” pass. This awesome membership gives you free admission to most national park sites around the country.

Groupon and LivingSocial

Often, sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial will offer awesome discounts on local attractions. Watch for these and use a discount code when buying. You’ll almost certainly save a bundle.

Resident Discounts

Some attractions offer a resident discount to those who live nearby. In fact, this is a big benefit of exploring locally. Check to see if the place you wish to visit has such a discount, and if so, make sure you have proof of residency close at hand when buying your ticket.

Free Days

Last but not least, we recommend checking each place you wish to visit to see if they offer free days. These are especially common at museums, especially in big cities. The only drawback to using these is the fact that the museums can become super busy during their free days.

With these tips and tricks, you should be able to plan some really awesome in-state RV vacations and getaways. In fact, you may even want to set aside as many weekends as possible so you can fully enjoy exploring locally.

Wrap Up Your Local Adventure

As you rediscover the wonders of your home state through the lens of your van, you’ll likely find that the greatest adventures are closer than you think. Whether it’s uncovering hidden gems, revisiting well-known landmarks with fresh eyes, or simply enjoying the freedom of the open road right in your backyard, there’s no shortage of ways to create memorable experiences without venturing far.

We Want to Hear from You!

Have you stumbled upon an incredible local spot during your travels? Or perhaps you’ve found a state park that feels like a second home? Share your favorite local attractions in the comments below or tag us on social media. Your discoveries can inspire fellow van lifers to embark on their own budget-friendly explorations and build a community of adventurers who appreciate the beauty of their own state.

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2 thoughts on “Exploring Locally: Plan an Exciting Van Staycation in Your Home State”

  1. That’s us and our van! This popped up as an ad under RV Life on the SMB Forum so I had to click it. Great shot of our van, sorry my legs are in it and I had the phone plugged in ; ) Real life though.

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