Every summer, many people put aside their work, daily stresses and responsibilities and escape on a vacation, somewhere far away from reality. It may be a secluded retreat in the mountains, a camping trip with the kids, an arranged tour in another country, an Alaskan cruise, or days relaxing at an exotic beach or resort.
However, with the current pandemic including social distancing and travel restrictions, along with financial constraints for many, those plans may have to be temporarily shelved. But the desire to escape reality – for just a bit – is very much alive. So, with many people remaining in their homes, how can that off-work journey happen? We have some tips for making the best of the situation and creating cherished vacation memories without ever leaving home. It’s called a staycation.
What’s a staycation?
A staycation is, quite simply, a vacation at home. How realistic, how exciting, or how relaxing you make it is up to you. Theme it up for a more authentic “away-from-home” experience.
What makes a great staycation? Well, that depends on what you consider a vacation. Some people want adventure, while others like relaxing with a drink in their hand. Still others use vacation time to unwind by tackling DIY projects such as renovations. So, what would you enjoy doing if you could craft your own staycation? (Which, by the way, you can.)
Commit to it
Once you’ve decided to schedule a staycation – whatever it ends up being – commit to it. Mark it on your calendar. Plan for it. Make concrete plans. Research for the top tips for your staycation. If you’re working, ask for those days off of work. Don’t just say you’re going to have a vacation and spend the weekend lounging on the sofa, noshing on Cheetos and surfing the internet, unless a week of rest is the staycation you’ve planned.
Whenever you’re going for vacation in your home – especially in these times when so many of us are working from home – try to unplug so your mind’s not on work and responsibilities. It’s especially important to take time off from work when you are working from home. Set your work email to the “out of office” setting and write an auto-reply message. Then, don’t check your work emails unless absolutely necessary. Consider NOT telling your boss that you’re vacationing at home. Turn your cell phone off or on silent, and set a small window of time each day to check for email messages.
Skip the news. The idea is to get away from stress, away from reality. Just concentrate on your vacation experience. The news cycle can wait for a week. Really, it can. This is the time to be good to yourself.
Disconnect while Working from Home
When you’re home, it’s important to leave work behind and focus on doing the things you love or enjoy. This will help you recharge and de-stress. Try embracing your creative side or doing something to improve your surroundings, like planting a garden. Try a new hobby that you can enjoy at home.
Prepare for your staycation much like you’d prep for any other vacation. Create your itinerary. Decide what kind of activities you would like to do each day of your vacation. What kind of staycation would you like? Cultural learning, straight-up fun, pampering, relaxing? Write your vacation goals down, and then make a game plan. Don’t want to cook while on vacation? Gather menus from local restaurants that deliver, and have them on hand. You could even incorporate different restaurants into the theme of your vacation.
Before your official vacation start time, do all the necessary prep work. Complete all chores in advance. Wash the dishes, dust, pay the bills, scrub the toilets, empty the trash. Do the laundry BEFORE your staycation begins. You don’t really want to be sorting and folding while on vacation, do you?
Set the Mood for your Staycation
Many people have saved money in anticipation of an annual vacation to pay for things like hotel rooms, meals, plane tickets and a rental car. Why not channel some of those funds into your at-home vacation paradise?
Create your staycation space – really, truly, set up a space that exudes the theme of your vacation. Move the furniture, change the lighting, order pillows, fairy lights or scented candles – whatever your theme is, run with it. Look at magazines or online trip websites for inspiration. Think about the destination you want. Paradise under the palms? Set up a piña colada or margarita station at home. Roll up the rugs and go barefoot like you’re on the beach. Set up a hammock between backyard trees or on your back porch.
Dreaming of a mountain retreat? Set out pine-scented candles and decorate the room with cottage home decor. Plan for any purchases you’ll need for your staycation. Does your week require some relaxing pillows, aromatherapy candles, a tent or hammock? Dreaming of an overseas vacation? Hit the international foods section of your grocery and stock up on items from that region to set the mood. Planning a spa retreat week? Buy a set of high-thread-count sheets, a couple of luxurious pillows, scented bath salts, essential oils, and a super-soft robe.
To make your staycation ambiance even more realistic, you can make a vacation soundtrack with music that reminds you of that particular place, or perhaps a past favorite vacation that you’d like to recreate. Going to the beach in your mind? Ramp up some Jimmy Buffet music. Missing that trip to Brazil this summer? Make your own compilation of Brazilian favorites including the likes of Roberto Carlos or Anitta. Or, queue up some internet music mixes.
Think about your favorite luxury hotel amenities and try to replicate some of those special touches at your own staycation. Love peppermints or chocolates on your pillows? Do it. How about a fruit basket, or a water pitcher of cold spring water infused with the subtle flavor and inviting look of cut fruit? Make it happen. This is all about helping you feel like you’re somewhere else.
Celebrate Special Occasions
You can make holidays or special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries more enjoyable by planning activities at home—plan special backyard BBQs for friends and family complete with backyard games. Invite them over for board game night or a scary movie marathon. Most people spend so much time working or connected to their devices that they may forget how much fun good old-fashioned fun can be!
Regional Road Trip
When planning your staycation, you might schedule some nearby excursions to take advantage of your local environment. Choose to visit a mix of natural and cultural attractions. Hike trails at a nearby forest preserve or national park. Visit a museum, art gallery, or theater. Often, people forget just how many enjoyable venues are in close proximity to their homes. Just be sure to prepare carefully for your trip, especially if you plan to spend a couple of days away.
Spending time outdoors is a great way to enhance your physical and mental well-being. Plan a sustainable getaway where you stay offline and do something to immerse yourself in your outdoor surroundings. Plan a fishing trip, head to the beach, or go camping. The modern world is associated with a wide array of stresses; take time to unwind and shed these stressors by getting back to nature.
Staycation during Extreme Weather
Extreme weather can affect your staycation plans; it may even knock out your power and prevent you from enjoying your backyard. You can prepare for rough weather at home by having flashlights and candles at the ready. Keep a stack of board games and cards for those times when you lose electricity.
Make Your Staycation a Safe-cation
If you’re planning to spend time at home, don’t neglect home safety features. In fact, it’s essential to maintain a safe setting at all times. Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen in case a staycation feast goes awry in the oven! Always keep your first aid kit stocked and at the ready too.
How about a pampering week, helping you release all the stress that’s built up this year? Consider a self-care “getaway” with a spa day, a YouTube yoga session, or a self-manicure. Start a journal of self-discovery. Draw a warm bubble bath, adding some calming essential oils like lavender or chamomile. Slip into the welcoming suds as you relax your mind and body. Soft music and candles invite you to soak away the stress. Then, wrap yourself up in the soft hug of a luxurious robe. This vacation is all about being good to yourself.
Retail Therapy Weekend
If you have money saved up that you won’t spend on a vacation this summer and miss shopping, you may want to arrange a retail therapy staycation. Curl up on the sofa with a glass of wine and start online shopping. You could budget what you had already set aside for your anticipated actual vacation, and spend some of that money, or just “window-shop” and dream from the comfort of your favorite recliner.
Plan Future Vacations
You can’t travel much right now, but the future is wide open. You’ve been staring at your walls for quite a while now, longing to escape. Why not start that escape, at least in your mind? Begin planning your post-pandemic dream holiday or road trip (or plane trip). There’s no time like the present to ponder where you’d like to visit – start with the continent or country, and narrow it down from there. Search online for destinations, hotels and fun activities. Jot them down and start planning for next year.
Look online for interesting destinations and then start searching for places you can stay, like at hotels or bed and breakfast inns. What kind of activities can you participate in while there? Plan who will take care of your home, pets, how you will get to the airport, and even whether you will need airport parking when you get there. The things that usually stress you will be all figured out. There are plenty of online resources online that will make this task easier. Take notes, plan your budget, and work out the details so when it’s time to fly the pandemic coop, you’ll have all your ducks in a row for your next adventure.
Be a Tourist in Your Own City
If you live in or near a city, chances are there are many things to do—new restaurants, special exhibits at local museums, theater performances, or concerts. Step out of your comfort zone and book a stay at an area hotel that’s known for its incredible city views or on-site amenities. Enjoy a ‘spa-cation’ or attend one of your city’s outdoor festivals.
Cook a fancy dinner
The internet is filled with how-to-cook videos. Zero in on one and cook that meal and impress your spouse or family. See if you can find fanciful foods that fit into the theme of your staycation. Or, ask your family to pamper you and cook (including doing the dishes.). You can also sign up for delivered meal preparation kits. These kits arrive at your doorstep with all of the ingredients, already prepped, along with step-by-step directions. You’ll feel like a professional chef in no time.
You may be someone who just needs to chill for a vacation. Vacations don’t always have to be about excitement and activity. Sometimes, you just need peace and quiet to de-stress from life.
Create your zen vacation in a quiet place of your home – make it off limits to the children (perhaps you have someone who can take care of them). Then, unplug your clocks or put them in the closet so you can’t see them. Turn off your phone, put on earphones (if there’s house noise you can’t block out) and just…chill.
Fun for the Whole Family
If you’re quarantining with your family and yearning for a vacation, build a staycation with a family-friendly theme or activities. Keep in mind that there are endless options when it comes to special things to do with the kids. Although you have been in each other’s space for months, there are ways you can spend quality, vacation-esque time as a family and build beautiful bonds.
Go camping for your staycation – for a night, a week, or somewhere in between – you choose. Set up a tent in the backyard, complete with sleeping bags and camp lights. Don’t forget the mosquito repellent or citronella candles. Pack up snacks in bags for a more authentic experience, and string lights in the trees or at the top of the tent for some extra ambiance.
Snag a couple of bags of ice from the store and fill a cooler with food and drinks to keep with the campout theme. Cook your meals on a grill, or have a fire pit if regulations allow. Roast marshmallows or craft s’mores. Tell stories around the fire. Stay up too late and laugh too much.
If your idea of camping is closer to glamping, or you don’t have a backyard, then move things indoors. Set up a tent or have your kids create a tent by hanging sheets and other fabrics in clever ways. Unleash your children’s creativity with tent-making – they know how to make the best tents and forts. Set up your indoor camping ambiance with flashlights and flameless candles for light sources. Eat from paper plates and make s’mores in the microwave. Search for a campfire video to play on your TV.
Have a family costume night or a themed party during your staycation. Challenge your kids to dress up as their favorite movie character, singer, or superhero, using clothes, props and supplies already in your home.
Love watching movies? Build a staycation around that. Have a themed movie marathon. Each family member picks a movie that you all watch, or you could categorize movies, like comedies, animation, action or another genre. Don’t forget the popcorn. Plan ahead and surprise your “movie audience” with their favorite movie theater candy and sodas.
Music or Karaoke Party
Use some of the money you would have spent on lodging, meals, attraction fees and more – and buy a karaoke machine. You may find your family singing until they’re all hoarse and falling down in laughter. Learn a new song on an instrument you play, and hold a “recital” in your living room. If more than one member of your family plays an instrument, work on a performance together.
Virtual Travel and Games
You could also spend the summer vacation money on virtual reality headsets. This marvelous technology is a fantastic way to virtually leave your house and go on vacations together, using 3D travel apps. Try a live remote escape room or hosted online escape room from the comfort and safety of your home. Want to walk the streets of Paris? Climb mountains in the Himalayas? You’re only a VR headset away from traveling without leaving home.
Backyard Water Game Day
Beat the summer heat on your staycation with a day of water games in your backyard or enjoying a day at the pool. Ask your kids to plan games and gather the necessary accessories like water hoses, kiddie pools, sprinklers, soaking guns, water slides, water balloons (be sure to pick up the broken balloon pieces) and plenty of sunblock. You can go all out renting an inflatable water playset, or you can keep it budget-friendly. If you already have a pool at home, organize some games that involve the whole family. Bring on the popsicles and laughter.
Kids love to have sleepovers with their friends. You can make these experiences even more memorable by planning some fun activities for kids to enjoy. For instance, set up a tent in the family room. Set out some craft supplies so kids can color, paint, or make something to bring home. Having activities helps you maintain a safe setting. You don’t want kids to be running wild and possibly tripping on steps. Make the night special for everyone and play a classic cartoon online, invite them to watch a fun kids’ film, make homemade pizza, or let them make their own ice cream sundaes.
Night in for the Parents
Parents may just need a vacation from their kids. Try to set up a cozy, romantic room or patio area to enjoy a night in with your loved one. Group candles around your backyard. Flameless candles are great and there’s no fire hazard. Set up a hammock or pillows or some other way to relax. Chill a bottle of wine, soda or whatever happens to be your favorite beverage. Make up a cheese tray. It can be fancy, or it can be laid-back. Pour a bag of chips into a bowl if that’s your style. Set the perfect mood for a romantic staycation. Play some music, relax, and kickback.
Date Night for Couples
A romantic staycation date night allows you and your partner to spend time together without spending a mini-fortune for a night on the town. Enjoy a romantic movie night in your backyard with a projector and screen. Order takeout to accompany an evening of board game bliss. It’s important to disconnect from household cares and work from time to time and pamper your relationship with fun experiences.
Many people love to travel to new locations and learn about culture, architecture, art, languages, food, and more. The opportunity to learn something new during your staycation is limited only by your imagination.
Because of the pandemic, many museums now offer free virtual tours. Spend days in the Louvre, or take an interactive tour of Mark Twain’s house. Visit zoos virtually, or set up Zoom meetings with friends or relatives in different countries so you can practice conversing in a foreign language.
Travel the world for free using your local library card. Libraries have a wealth of e-books available to download from the library’s website onto your own device. Just pick them out and download, prop your feet up and escape into a mystery, thriller, romance, fantasy, or whatever genre you enjoy. Have your favorite beverage and snacks near your reading haven.
Take an online class on cooking, digital art, sewing, or something that intrigues you. This is your staycation. If your goal is to spend more time outdoors, consider starting a new flower or vegetable garden or a compost pile. Set up a rain barrel water collection system, making use of the rainwater rolling off your roof.
You can even make it a learning vacation for your pet. Learn how to teach your pet tricks or a new skill, like sniffing out smells. Or, just chill with your cuddly cat on your lap. For some, that’s a heavenly vacation.
For those who would rather “do” than chill, spend your staycation time learning a new craft. Clear out your schedule and spend that time really digging into whatever it is you want to learn. Use budgeted summer vacation money to order acrylic or oil paints, modeling clay, mosaics or stained glass supplies, whatever strikes your fancy, and learn a new skill you’ll maintain long after your staycation is over.
Renovate a Space in your Home
For those who need to be active during vacations, think about a renovation vacation. Since you’ve been home so much the last two months, no doubt you’ve zeroed in on a corner or a room of your house that’s begging for an update or a redo. Your construction project can make the whole family feel involved and useful. Repaint the kitchen and add a backsplash or replace the flooring. Update your bedroom, adding new curtains or blinds. Turn that depressing basement into a new game room, guest room or home office. Browse among the DIY articles from professionals for inspiration and guidance.
Adding a Game Room at Home
A game room is a must-have staycation feature if you have the space. You can transform a spare bedroom or sunroom into a game room or turn your basement into a fun gaming space. Consider shifting your outdoor living area into a gaming space complete with an awning or roof. Depending on the games your family loves to play, you might set aside space for board games, video games, or games that require equipment like a pool table and dartboard. Set up a projector and screen so you can enjoy watching HD movies in this fun recreational space too.
Whatever your stay-at-home vacation fantasy is, try to make it happen. This pandemic won’t last forever, and the vacation you take this summer, at your own home, may just spark some of the best memories ever. Don’t forget to take photos!