Fluctuating economies have caused a flurry of belt-tightening within personal budgets across the U.S. More and more, households are limiting nonessentials and decreasing leisure costs. A top example is the traditional annual vacation. With rising prices all around, it’s no wonder than even a standard weeklong trip away is becoming increasingly unaffordable for many. In lieu of that, several alternatives have been cropping up, including staycations. A staycation is quite simply a vacation at home. Sounds odd? Think about what tourists do when they visit your city. Whether it’s home entertainment or heading outdoors, in most cases, there’s plenty to do right in our own backyards. We simply don’t notice it on a daily basis because we’re too busy with work and family demands.

Benefits of a Staycation

staycation ideasLowered costs are by far the most appreciated benefit of a staycation. For a fraction of the price, people can still enjoy plenty of fun and relaxation. Among the highest categories of saved costs are accommodations, transportation, restaurant meals, souvenir expenditures, and currency exchanges. Moreover vacationing at home saves the hassle and worry of having to pack. With a staycation, people can enjoy the entire period of their vacation without losing hours or even days on travel time. No more

Moreover vacationing at home saves the hassle and worry of having to pack. With a staycation, people can enjoy the entire period of their vacation without losing hours or even days on travel time. No more jet lag or worrying about how the kids are faring with grandma. On a broader note, the lower amount of traveling also spells a lower carbon footprint, plus more money put back into the local economy.

Staycation Do’s

  • The key to planning a fabulous staycation is to treat it like a vacation. Set the “departure” and “arrival” dates to build up the anticipation.
  • Make your home as inviting as possible before the staycation. Pamper yourself! Think bubble baths, sleeping in, and late brunches, followed by a day of adventures.
  • Determine a budget for the staycation. While the whole point of a staycation is to cut costs, give yourself a realistic amount of spending money. This can be spent on anything from kitschy impulse buys to fun activities.
  • Keep a camera with you during the entire staycation. Use it to capture memories and funny moments from the holiday. Afterwards, make sure to print the pictures and add them to a photo album.
  • Do plan some indoor activities. Instead of things you might normally do at home, jazz it up a little. A home movie theater experience complete with makeshift home theater seating is a fun way to involve the whole family.
  • Do ask for help in advance. This could range from hiring a babysitter or asking friends for activity suggestions around town.
  • Food plays a large part in a memorable vacation. Head out to a fancy restaurant or explore an outdoor farmer’s market. Better yet, visit a farm to pick your own fruit.
  • Look up local newspaper listings for programs and courses offered in the area. Attend a special cookery class, or visit a pottery workshop. Do the things you’ve always dreamed about but never had time to do!
  • Fill up your backpack with the camera, tourist guide, bottle of water, and any other bits and pieces you’d take while on vacation, and explore the city or neighboring areas.

Staycation Don’ts

  • Work is off-limits. This means no peeking at your work email, even if for just a minute.
  • Avoid chores during the entirety of the staycation with some smart pre-planning. If this proves difficult, try to minimize the amount of chores. Clean the house in advance, coordinate baby-sitting or pet-sitting details, and perhaps even prepare some meals ahead of time.
  • Home entertainment is great, but don’t stay indoors the whole time. Before the staycation, look up tourist and visitor guidebooks for your area to find local attractions. Don’t be afraid to act like a tourist! You might be surprised at how many fun things there are to do.
  • Don’t create a strict schedule. Breaking out of your daily routine can make the staycation much more relaxing.
  • Don’t feel like you have to stay at home during the staycation. Try a house swap with a close friend, or hit up a bed and breakfast for a night. Take advantage of the lower weekday rates and get out of the house for a day or two.

Staycation Ideas

Picnics – Not every city has a gorgeous beach to laze by, but most places do at least have a park. Pack up a delicious basket of goodies, along with a blanket and some games, and spend a peaceful afternoon out in the sun.

Movie Night – For some fun home entertainment, plan a home movie theater night at home to avoid the sky-high cinema prices. Use large beanbags or heaps of cushions on the floor for some cozy home theater seating. Set up a counter of popcorn, bowls of candy, and drinks in your home movie theater. For something a bit more substantial, try nachos or mini hamburgers. Just make sure not to spill any on your home theater seating!

Tourist Day – Research some museums, art galleries, the zoo, theatrical performances, or festivals in your area. Many such places even offer discounts for local residents or a day pass to visit several tourist attractions at one go. Simply being among tourists, or in a touristy spot can make you feel like you are far away from home.

Pampering – Find a spa in the area and visit it with a few friends. If this option is too pricey, set up your own spa at home with massage oils, rejuvenating skin masks, manicures and so on.

Learning – An introductory course on sports, arts, or other skills is a fun way to get out of the house and indulge in a new activity. The added benefit is that you’ll alsomeet new people with similar interests!

Theme Night – That boring old living room can become a faraway paradise with some light planning and a little imagination. Any theme night typically involves decorations, food, drinks, games, or entertainment. Pick any theme you might like and apply it to those aspects. The theme can be something like camping, or even a location theme, like Paris.

Me-Time – Set one day aside during your staycation and dedicate it entirely to yourself. This can incorporate just about anything you wish to do. The point of having a “me-day” is to help get in touch with yourself again instead of being perpetually drowned in a flurry of work, chores, and routine.

camping tentScavenger Hunt – Set up a scavenger hunt around the city with friends, or family members. Each team gets a list of clues that they have to find. This idea can work equally well with just two people working together. It serves as a great excuse to wander about the city, exploring random places that you might not normally visit. Clues can be utterly random e.g.: spot a clown or area specific e.g.: pick up a pass from the skating rink.

Camping – If you have a large enough backyard, set up a tent for some outdoorsy fun. Build a small campfire; make sure it is within regional regulations first! and roast hotdogs and marshmallows. Have someone in your party strum songs on an acoustic guitar for a good old-fashioned sing-along, and finish the night under the stars.