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The resort at home: Staycations, home projects and saving money

UNIONTOWN, Ohio — Niels and Jen de Jong typically take a two-week vacation to visit Niels' family in The Netherlands. But they bought their dream house near Cleveland in 2012.

"When you build a house, there is not a lot of money to travel," he says.

So instead, last year the de Jongs took several staycations instead. Niels took time off from his job as a senior assistant computer systems architect at Penske Logistics to work on sprucing up the house. Jen documented their adventures on their blog.

The de Jongs' experience in 2012 matches up with a new survey just released from Burst Media, an online advertising network. Burst Media found that 53.7 percent of U.S. adults say they are going to take a vacation this summer. Of those who are going to take a summer vacation, 43.1 percent plan to travel 100 miles or more, while 9 percent will take a staycation — staying at home instead of traveling.

With a recovering economy, the idea of saving money by not taking a regular vacation is appealing. There are no travel costs, no lodging costs, less expensive food — and with no travel time, it is like adding extra days of vacation.

But even some of those who are planning a big trip say they also will, at some point, take a staycation this year. This means that, overall, one-third of respondents say they are going to take at least one staycation this summer. This is slightly higher than the 31.7 percent who said they were going to take a staycation in 2011.

"People are watching their budget," says Burst Media spokesman Mark Kaefer. "The reasons why people are taking staycations is where it gets interesting."

Why they stay

About one-third of people taking staycations say they are doing it because of "family/kids activities and obligations" (31.5 percent). Some just do not want to travel (12.5 percent). Others say they have plans to visit local sites or engage in local activities (22.1 percent).

The largest percentage (43.1 percent) who take staycations say they are, like the de Jongs, trying to save money. The de Jongs also fall under the second largest percentage, "the need to catch up with projects around the house" (32.2 percent).

Rather than take two weeks off, Niels took Mondays or Fridays off here and there to make three-day weekends. Sometimes Niels and Jan would take their preschool boy to visit sites close to home — such as the large Amish community in Holmes County, Ohio, a new aquarium in Cleveland and so forth.

"It is kind of nice to stay around the house and maybe take a Sunday drive," Niels says.

But more often than not, Niels would find himself putting together shelves or other projects around the house that would end up on the blog or pinned on Pinterest, a photo and interest sharing website.

Targeting the staycationers

Kaefer at Burst Media says knowing that so many people are taking time off from work to do projects at home may help some companies.

"When we think of summer vacation and summer travel we think of destinations," Kaefer says. "This is a great opportunity for local marketers to connect with people who are right there at home."

Niels says his family took their multiple mini-staycations last year to work on their house and save money. This year, however, he says is the year of trips. They just returned from a trip to Orlando, Fla., where he was at a conference. Later in the summer, they will take that delayed trip to Holland.

But this summer will also, no doubt, include plenty of blog posts about sprucing up the home as well.


Twitter: @degroote