Things are beginning to open up again since the pandemic, but it will be a while before everyone is ready to travel again. But, the good news is you can get away in your own backyard, balcony or local hotel for less money and travel time! And you can do it any time of year.
For me, the key to a great staycation is planning. Yes, you can certainly do one last minute, but I personally find ones that are planned go smoother because I’ve thought about things ahead of time. Like what, you ask? Most of the same things you would think about on a real vacation (but the question of where to stay is solved and what to wear may not matter):
- Home or hotel? Are you going to stay at home or have a change of scenery by staying at a local hotel, AirB&B, bed and breakfast or retreat center?
- What is your goal for your time away? Are you trying to get some work done or trying to zone out and forget about the world? What will help you the most to do that?
- In your mind, where are you going? I find it fun to have themed staycations so that I feel like I am somewhere other than my house. Use your imagination!
- What are you going to eat/drink? Try to pick things that go with your theme.
- What are you going to do for fun? Again, keep your theme in mind, even if all you do is read.
- What do you want your days to look like? Are you going to schedule them or just let them happen as they will?
I’ll give you an example. For the three-day Memorial Weekend this year, I planned a “tropical” vacation. I live in St. Louis, Missouri, so the tropical isn’t as literal as I would like. However, that didn’t stop me from planning. I ended up having to push it off until Fourth of July weekend because our weather was too rainy and cool for what I was hoping to do, but at least now I am ready.
Things to Do Ahead of Time
- Clean your house and do your laundry. Make sure anywhere you are going to be spending extra time (patio for example) is prepped and ready to go. This allows you to not have to think about daily chores while on your vacation, plus a clean environment is soothing and allows you to fake the vacation atmosphere a little better.
- In my tropical example, I not only did the above, but I decorated my patio in an upscale tropical theme, trying to imitate what a swanky hotel poolside lounge would look like. (This is, of course, optional.)
- Obviously, this is a moot point if you stay somewhere other than your home.
- Plan your menu. Whether you are cooking, buying pre-made food or ordering out, it helps to have a plan for what you want to eat. You can make this fun by looking at the menus of fancy hotels in your dream destinations and emulating what you would order to the best of your ability and budget. Don’t forget that you can treat yourself to appetizers, drinks and dessert, too!
- For my staycation, I looked at hotels in the Bahamas, California, and even the Maldives for variety. This meant lots of seafood and rum-based drinks. Luckily, I already had everything I needed, except for two mai-tais which I ordered from a local liquor store, but could have made myself.
- Cook your food/go grocery shopping. If possible, cooking your food ahead of time or buying store-bought is ideal because it is one less thing you have to do while you are off. If you want to order out, you can even pre-order at most places.
- I find seafood is best cooked fresh, so I could only cook some things ahead of time.
- Buy anything extra you may need for your activities. Let’s say for example you choose to do a spa weekend. Do you have oils for a massage, everything you need to give yourself a mani/pedi, or the right music for meditation?
- I planned on doing things like tai-chi, meditation and chakra clearing (I already have the crystals) that don’t require many items, so I was lucky. I decided I wanted to use Tibetan singing bowls in my charka ritual, so I bought an album of music online.
Ideas for Staycation Themes
- Time of year
- Spring – Picnic, walking in the woods, flowers (go to your local botanical garden or arboretum), gardening, looking for signs of spring.
- Summer – Tropical/tiki, beach, coastal (rocky coastline as opposed to sandy), river, lake.
- Fall – Local foliage tour, quaint inn, or harvest festival, haunted house (take a ghost tour of your city or one nearby).
- Winter – Mountain lodge, Christmas/New Year theme, reading by the fireside.
- Tour your own city – Go to the zoo, aquarium, ball park, museums, theatre, local attractions and historic areas, all those places you’ve been meaning to see. Look up the top tourist attractions for your area online and cross off the ones you’ve missed. Eat at only local (non-chain) restaurants, shop at local merchants you haven’t tried before, taste craft beer/wine or visit a farmer’s market. If you live in the city, do a day trip to a surrounding community. If you live in the suburbs or country, visit the city.
- A week/weekend in Paris – wear French clothes, eat French food, read fashion magazines/French newspapers, watch travel shows or documentaries about France, read books set there, visit a museum or look at French art online, maybe take an online language class.
- A week/weekend in England – eat a traditional English breakfast, have high tea, play cricket, watch British TV/movies, visit a museum or look at English art online, watch a video about the differences between American English and the Queen’s English.
- A week/weekend in Italy – Visit a local winery or have your own wine tasting, eat Italian food, watch movies filmed in Italy – I recommend Roman Holiday, Under the Tuscan Sun, and The Tourist – visit a museum or look at Italian art online, maybe take an online language class.
- Spa – Take a hot soaking bath or fill your bathroom with steam, give or receive a massage (even if it is just you, you can massage your feet, hands, arms, legs, neck, shoulders, face and scalp), give yourself a facial or use a new mask, give yourself a mani/pedi, eat healthy (smoothies, salads, grilled meat or veg, etc.), read enlightening books or watch documentaries about mindfulness.
- Casino – Dreaming of Vegas, Atlantic City, Brighton or maybe Monte Carlo? Set up a casino in your own home. All you need is a few tables, some chips (or coins or buttons), a deck of cards and maybe some free online games like slots, roulette, or craps. Get inventive. Wear your favorite tux/suit or ballgown and jewels (even if they are fake) and indulge your inner big spender without actually losing a dime. Don’t forget the elegant meals, fancy cocktails (if you drink) and entertainment. You can always watch a Cirque du Soleil, comedy or magic show on streaming TV. Or better yet, if you have a family, have a talent show.
- Stargazing – Set up telescope and study the night sky, visit a local planetarium or observatory, watch movies/documentaries about space. If you have kids or just want to indulge your inner child, you could even get some space food and see what it is like (the ice cream isn’t too bad).
- Outdoors – Play a different game with your family every day, try a new activity, go for a bike ride or a hike, glamp/camp in your backyard or even your living room (no fires in the house, please!), go for a swim (if you have a pool close by or buy a cheap kiddie pool), have a bonfire (with smores, of course) or just sleep out under the stars (be safe and don’t forget the bug spray!) Eat burgers, hot dogs, soda/beer, have a picnic, make popcorn, etc.
I hope this post has inspired you to not let money or travel restrictions keep you from at least a small version of the vacation of your dreams. I’ll update this post in July with photos from my delayed tropical staycation.
P.S. – Don’t forget to take pictures! After all you planned it, you should have something to remember it by and maybe even show off your creativity to your friends. Plus, if you venture out, consider getting yourself a small souvenir. Just because you didn’t travel doesn’t mean you can’t have a keepsake!