Sometimes, a staycation is the best and most meaningful trip you can take. It's a way to have fun and save money when budgets are too tight for a real trip—maybe even minimum budget travel isn't an option for you. By being a "tourist" in your own town, you're sure to discover interesting things you never noticed before, and get some of the benefits of expanding your horizons by seeing your home through fresh eyes. It is also a way to protect the environment by avoiding the emissions produced by transportation.
The UK government during World War II at one point tried to persuade people to "Holiday at Home!"
Staycationing came into common parlance in the U.S. around mid-2008 as gasoline prices reached record highs, leading many people to cut back on family vacations.
Staycations are about having a tourist experience in your own town. If you need to stay at home after possibly being infected with a disease on a trip, see Self-isolation after travel.
This is the easy part physically but can be the hard part mentally. The key to a successful staycation is not how you get to the place you're going but how you adjust your attitude to see the familiar with fresh eyes—unless you're visiting neighborhoods that you don't know well.
It's likely that you've never done some of the touristy things in your city, except perhaps when you're entertaining guests from out of town.
- Visit your local tourism center (or your town's equivalent) and see if there are any points of interest you were unaware existed. Ask the staff for recommendations.
- Finding or inventing a theme can help give you purpose and new perspective. Is there a famous person from your town? What places relate to that person? What kinds of architecture can be found in your town? Any places connected to stories, legends, or history? It can require a little research and preparation to get the details and pinpoint specific locations, but themed travel can be a lot of fun and will likely help you develop a deeper appreciation towards your town.
- Go to the observatory on top of that tall building.
- Many museums have special exhibits, so even if you've visited a museum before, there will likely be something new to see, do, or learn.
- If the place you call home is a big city, there are probably many worthwhile museums, houses of worship and other buildings you haven't visited, and there may be neighborhoods you haven't spent much time in. Seek them out.
Since you have the home field advantage, you can avoid the boring overhyped tourist traps and stick to things you know are fun.
- Take a weekday trip to the amusement park, when it won't be as crowded.
- Go on a photo safari. Try to capture your town's atmosphere in ways that are atypical but still representative. A creative photographer can find ways to take unique photos of even the most famous and most photographed attractions. Plan to see and photograph the best sunrise/sunset. Choose a color theme and find places and lighting that capture your chosen hue in a fun and interesting way, or find seasonal highlights.
- Do something physical:
- Have a beauty day for your body:
- Spa day. You can go to a fancy spa, or you can set up a nice bath at home.
- Manicure, pedicure, or facial
- Have a picnic
- Go to an event
- Concerts, plays, comedy shows – Your town may have professional orchestras and playhouses, but there may also be traveling performances, and there are also likely amateur groups, including high school events during the end of the school semester/year. During the summer, orchestras and other groups often program pops music featuring well-known and widely-loved classical music and show tunes. Film music concerts have also been growing in popularity; at these a popular film (such as Star Wars) is shown while the orchestra plays the music live in sync with the film.
- Festivals, fairs
- Outdoor movie viewings – These have become a popular event during the summer, setting up a temporary screen in a park, the side of a building, or even in the middle of a street. If you're lucky, you may have a year-round option if you live close to one of the few remaining drive-in theaters.
- Sports game, whether you attend in person or watch from a sports bar.
- Visit a local farmers market, or perhaps see what interesting ingredients you can find at an ethnic grocery store.
- Go shopping (or browsing) at the mall or a major commercial part of town.
- Peruse a bookstore.
- Find a reputable antique shop or go to a flea market.
|“||Eating is so intimate. It's very sensual. When you invite someone to sit at your table and you want to cook for them, you're inviting a person into your life.||”|
Indulging yourself and your loved ones with a nice meal is a common pleasure for a staycation. You might splurge on one of the fancy upscale restaurants (but check if you'll need a reservation), or return to an old favorite.
Does your town have any famous dishes or desserts? This is a good time to try them. Find out what restaurants offer them. If there is more than one restaurant that serves the same dish (local specialty or otherwise), it could be fun to play "food critic". Visit a few of the restaurants and try the same dish, rate them, and determine which has the best. It will be good for you to know in the future when you want to eat out, and it can also make for good conversation with your friends and other locals. People always want to know where the best food is.
Cooking at home is also a nice way to spend your staycation. Instead of the hurried weeknight meals you usually have, you can spend time during the day preparing a more elaborate time-consuming meal. Instead of eating at the breakfast table or in front of the TV, set up your nice meal at home: clear the dining room table, use the fancy china, and light some candles.
When was the last time that you had delivery or went out to eat? Even if you get pizza every Friday, try mixing it up with a new menu item or better yet, a new restaurant or cuisine. See what local businesses have to offer that you didn't realize existed around you and get a small piece of the world to experience in your own home.
Or check out what's available in other neighborhoods of your city or neighboring towns that you usually don't frequent, particularly if there are immigrant communities or internal migrants from other parts of your country there with interesting food.
It can also be an interesting experience to go to a meal provided by a religious community you are not part of. Many churches, mosques and Hindu and Buddhist temples provide excellent meals for all comers at low prices on one or more special days every year.
- Fill your home with a rich coffee in the morning and some relaxing chamomile tea at night. When you're on a staycation, you have the time to treat yourself and take a few extra minutes to brew up something special. If you're feeling more adventurous, take the opportunity to juice or blend up some smoothies: maybe you'll discover a simple beverage that you can make for breakfast when you're back to your daily routine.
- If you live in a city with a varied drinking culture, go to bars or pubs in neighborhoods you don't frequent. If you're usually a wine or shot drinker, try a recommended cocktail bar, of if you're usually a beer drinker, try a wine bar, a whiskey bar, a cider bar, etc.
- If you live in a city with tea specialist stores that serve tea in-house, treat yourself to some very high-quality varieties of tea you've never tried before.
Even on a staycation, you don't have to sleep at home! You could treat yourself to a night at a four- or five-star hotel with beautiful skyscraper views and luxurious bathrobes and beds. While you're there, indulge further in the sauna or a massage treatment.
For the personal touch, you could try a local bed and breakfast. It feels a little more like visiting a friend than the impersonal feel of a hotel, and you get to join the family breakfast table as well.
For something closer to nature, you could rent a cabin in a nearby park. This is a nice hybrid of staying close while getting away from it all. It's a great way to unplug from technology and spend time with family or friends enjoying the outdoors and bonding over some board games or a movie, or even partying noisily until late into the night.
There may be some nontraditional lodgings you could try. A log cabin is an obvious one, but there are more unusual ones like houseboats, treehouses, barns, teepees, and igloos.
Of course, you could forgo the permanent lodging and go camping in a regular tent instead. You can even camp in your own backyard to get the experience without leaving the conveniences of home.
Lastly, don't be afraid to take a nap. It's your vacation; spend it the way you want to!
Take a short class to improve your skills or try something new:
- Cooking or baking
- Painting, drawing
- Sewing, knitting, crocheting, and other thread and fabric crafts
- Glass blowing
- First aid or CPR
Staying close to home can make it difficult to disconnect from work. Your company may try to reach you for questions or ask you to come to the office. You can practice self-discipline and simply tell them no. You can also discourage them by just saying you're "on vacation" and not mentioning that you're still in town (or even fib and give a fake answer about where you're going). There's also no shame in using paid vacation days for a staycation. You earn your vacation days, so use them however you like.
There are plenty of ways to give back to your local community and help those in need. Homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and donation centers might accept volunteers, although you may need to arrange this in advance instead of just showing up. Habitat for Humanity is an organization to build simple and affordable houses using volunteer labor.
Depending on the length of your time off, you may be able to temporarily foster a pet. There are plenty of deserving animals in shelters and it could be a good test run for the responsibilities (and rewards!) of ownership.
While you're at home or in your local community, you are liable to know your surroundings but in case you get bold and use this opportunity to build that shed you've been meaning to put in the backyard or take your sailboat out for a spin for the first time in ages, remember that fun and safety aren't mutually exclusive.
While staycations are not particularly dangerous, a common problem when getting back into your daily grind is getting off your sleep schedule. If you've been staying up until the wee hours playing video games, do yourself a favor and get a good night's rest before you have to go back to work.
Even though you are in familiar territory, you may still upset local customs: for instance, be aware of how loud you are being during off-hours of the day and be mindful of whether it might bother your neighbors.
A goal for many people on a staycation is not to connect but to disconnect. Some methods you might consider:
- Consider not answering phone calls or text messages if it's not urgent (or only answer ones from family and friends).
- Stay off social media.
- Keep TVs, computers, and anything else with a screen off. Resist the temptation to watch videos or play video games. Replace TV and movies with books to stimulate your imagination, and replace video games with board games to keep your mind sharp or with sports and physical activities to keep your body in shape.
However, you may choose instead to connect by doing at least part of your staycation with one or more friends or family members, as there are pleasures in sharing experiences and being able to reminisce about them together afterwards.
If you have pets, consider how caring for them will affect your plans. If you'd rather have a full day of activities without needing to stop at home or keep to a strict schedule, you could board your pets for the day or night, or have someone housesit and take care of your pets until you come home.
- After you've explored your home or hometown, consider a "nearcation": visiting a nearby location that you may have taken for granted or never visited, thinking that you always could someday later. For example, if you live in New York City, consider a trip to Philadelphia. From Hong Kong, try Macau, or if you're in Buenos Aires, visit Colonia.