Do you ever feel like you need a vacation, only to realize that taking one is hardly relaxing? Whether you’re trying to make schedules and flight times work or nailing down tour times to not miss a thing in a city, the planning can feel like a second job. Sure, traveling to a new city can be great, but after a few days of walking all day, dealing with crowds, and rushing from one spot to the next to take it all in, you feel ready for a vacation.
Next time you need a break, consider taking a staycation. Not only does it eliminate the anxiety that comes with catching flights or dealing with traffic, but your wallet will thank you. Plus, you’ll be able to splurge a little more on some great experiences with what you’re saving. Planning a staycation is more than just hanging out and watching Netflix (unless that’s what you want it to be). Here are our tips to plan and take a relaxing staycation.
Kids: If you have children, then your first thought is likely figuring out how to politely ask someone to watch them for a few days. If you don’t have nearby family members who are willing to help out, then your best bet is to try to make arrangements with another family. Let another parent know that you’re thinking of having a grown ups only weekend, and ask if they’d be interested in a trade-off – if they let your kids stay over for a few days, you’ll do the same for them.
Be sure to not only follow through on this, but also make it as easy as possible for the other parents. Consider giving them a gift card to help out with paying for dinner or sending your kids over with a fun game for the family that they can keep. Don’t forget to send a thank-you note reiterating your offer to watch their kids so they can have a quiet weekend of their own.
Home: One of the biggest drawbacks to staycationing is the reminders of chores to be done – and the threat of ending up having a regular weekend full of housework instead of a fun, relaxing you-time. Consider splurging on cleaning services the day before your planned time off. Not only will this take the burden of cleaning up off of you, but you’ll feel much more relaxed with a clean home that you didn’t have to clean. Take a grocery trip to stock up for the weekend so you won’t have to do any of your usual chores. If you want to make another great splurge, pay for a laundry service so you aren’t doing any laundry through your staycation. They’ll charge by the pound – all you do is drop it off (or, many pick up from your home) and you’ll get back stacks of clean, folded laundry.
Also take this time to freshen up your house so you have that luxury vibe from hotels. Along with that clean house smell, change out all your sheets and towels to be fresh and fluffy – after all, nothing beats that feeling of clean sheets. For the full hotel effect, splurge on some new sheets that just feel expensive. Bamboo sheets naturally wick away moisture and keep you cool, so you’ll sleep through the night and wake up comfortably, just like when you stay in a hotel. Nothing says vacation quite like sleeping in and feeling absolutely refreshed.
Time: The key to making your staycation really feel like an escape is to set aside the time and use it as you would your vacation. Take some vacation time off from work (did you know Americans wasted 169 million vacation days in 2013?). Leave your phone in a room and sort of “forget” where you put it for a while, and don’t answer every text and phone call that comes in. Don’t make appointments or scheduled plans, and eat meals by when you feel hungry, not necessarily by the time of day.
Taking Your Staycation
Go outside: One of the biggest downfalls of having a day job is being sequestered in an office rather than being able to go outside. If you have a backyard or nearby park, have a picnic or just read a magazine in the sun. Take an evening walk after dinner, and consider sitting outside and talking at night instead of sitting in front of the TV. Remember, the point is to act like you’re on vacation – act accordingly.
This is a great time to look up great day trips from your city. Chances are there’s a great state park, a quirky roadside attractions, or something that’s just so unique to where you live that you’ve never bothered to check out. Find a local visitor’s center and pick up some brochures and do an internet search for “[your state] CVB” – that will help you find a Convention & Visitors Bureau, the official travel website for your area. They’ll have lots of resources of activities, destinations, restaurants, and more to explore.
Meals: While you don’t need to plan every second to a t, it’s a good idea to pick out some of what you’d like to eat to elude the regular life annoyance of that “what do you want for dinner?” Conversation. Splurge on a popular dinner restaurant in your city that you wouldn’t usually try. If you’re having a kid-free weekend for the first time in a while, do something you wouldn’t with them like taking a taxi or Uber to a bottomless mimosa brunch or go get afternoon cocktails.
Similarly, try something new you wouldn’t usually go for. If your dream staycation involves literally staying put and not leaving the house much, try a new take-out place. Rather than prioritizing delivery time like you would on a work night, try a new spot and get extras to sample new dishes.
Do what YOU want: We all have those hobbies that we get as gifts or think about pursuing and never get around to it. Whether it’s learning how to tie new knots, knitting socks, or baking or homebrewing from scratch, set aside time to finally dive into that thing you “never have time for.” This is the time! Or, if it would make you happy to finally have time to binge-watch a full season of a television show or an entire series of movies, do it. What’s important is that you’re taking this time to do what would make you happy and eliminate the everyday stress from your life. A few weeks before your planned staycation, choose a few activities you might want to partake in and make sure you’ve made the arrangements – whether it’s buying materials you need or just getting a Hulu membership.
When it comes down to it, there’s no actual right or wrong way to staycation. After all, it’s a choice we make with our vacation time to step away from our everyday chores and stressors and do what we want to do. Just like when you would regularly take a vacation, set a budget to stick to, and then don’t be afraid to actually spend it. Take this time to reinvigorate, reenergize, and treat yourself.