Who doesn’t look forward to a vacation?
We plan, we shop, we pack, we dream…and then we head out—leaving our usual responsibilities in our rearview mirror for a week or two—there’s something incredibly freeing and therapeutic about that!
But for many of us, a traditional vacation may not be in the cards this year. If your job was one of the many affected by the pandemic, those lay-offs and furloughs probably left little money to put into the “vacation fund” after paying for basics. Even if you still have a few holiday dollars left in the bank, COVID-19 has forced the closure of many favorite vacation spots, and quite a few of us still consider flying and train travel an unacceptable risk in a pre-vaccine world.
Whether it’s your budget, public health concerns, resort closings, or a combination that’s driving your decision not to head out on a typical vacay this year, there’s an alternative that can give you the Rest & Relaxation you crave: the staycation.
In the UK they call them “holistays,” but the concept’s the same: a staycation is a set period of time when you stay home and do fun stuff in or around where you live, ranging from in-home spa days to daytrips without overnight accommodations. Typically far less costly than a normal vacation, the word became widely used in the US during the global financial crisis of 2007, and peaked in May of 2008 when gas prices reached record highs.
Staycations have remained popular over the past decade, and they’re back bigger and better than ever as we continue to cope with a global pandemic. Fortunately, there are many fun, inexpensive ways to go about changing your attitude when you can’t—or don’t wish to– change your latitude.
Rule Number 1: Start by treating this time as a regular vacation. Sign out of work and eliminate or severely limit your availability by phone or email. Don’t cheat. Discipline yourself not to peak at your work email—after a few days, you won’t even be tempted. You deserve this time, and if you’re staycation-ing with your family, so do they. Limit your exposure to the constant news cycle with a summary news app (if you can’t tune out altogether!)
Turn your home into a haven. There are lots of things you can do to make your inside environment staycation-worthy:
- Create soundtracks. Make a playlist of your favorite music or find a playlist that you find fun and relaxing that suits your staycation vibe.
- Buy flowers. Treat yourself to a huge, fresh bouquet (Costco has great ones!), plop it in your favorite vase and place it where you can see it while you chill.
- Play mixologist. Have a signature staycation drink every day at your designated “happy hour” or after dinner? Make a non-alcoholic version for the kids and those who don’t indulge.
- Take out your best sheets. If they’re ratty, indulge in the best new ones you can afford. Little things mean a lot during a staycation, and nothing says “luxury hotel” better than high-quality linens.
- Arrange gourmet snacks. Place small plates of fresh fruit, fun snacks, and gourmet chocolates around your living areas.
- Use the good dishes. What are you waiting for?
- Stock up on books. Visit the library, redeem that Kindle gift card or treat yourself to a couple of great reads.
- Have a film festival. If you’re staycation-ing with little ones, plan a family movie night. Make a big batch of popcorn– you can buy those red and white cardboard popcorn holders that look just like the real thing. You can get boxes of movie-time candy life Raisenettes, Snowcaps, and Starbursts at the grocery store for a fraction of what you’ll pay at a movie concession stand.
- Travel Virtually. COVID-19 has closed many venues, but it’s also brought more of the world’s wonders to our screens through the magic of videoconferencing. From the Louvre to National Parks, click here to discover the 15 most amazing places you can visit virtually from the comfort of your own home.
- Nap. It doesn’t cost a thing but taking a nap in the middle of the day can be one of the most indulgent, relaxing things you can do.
Make your house of den of comfort and relaxation, but don’t forget to venture outside. Movies, theatres, and other venues where you might typically go during a staycation are still closed in most places, but most parks and trails are still welcoming visitors. Take a day or two of your staycation to explore the world within an hour or two of home. Elevating your heart rate, breathing fresh air, and soaking up a little sun will send you home in the afternoon pleasantly tired, totally relaxed, and ready for the next indoor activity.
There’s one way that a staycation is exactly the same as a typical vacation: you’ll need a plan and a budget. Keep your plan a bit loose so you don’t substitute one strict routine for another but do be aware of how much you can comfortably spend on a week or so of “little indulgences.” Spoiler alert: things can add up quickly but they don’t have to. There are plenty of great ways to have fun, relax, and make cool memories without breaking the bank!