How to have a staycation

Have you been dreaming of a break from the monotony and stress of daily life? Are you overwhelmed with the planning, expense, and hassle of traveling? Consider a staycation, which is exactly what it sounds like — time off from work and domestic duties to explore and enjoy the area you live in. The length of time can vary from 2 days to 2 weeks, and you can take short day trips to places a couple of hours outside your town.

And remember, the most critical component of a staycation is unplugging from your regular schedule, not working, and focusing instead on rest, leisure, and pleasure.  

Why take a staycation? 

Time off does wonders for everyone, both emotionally and physically, especially because our day-to-day lives are largely inundated with stress from the news, work, relationships, and housework. As we continue to take on more responsibilities, it takes a toll on our bodies, leading to chronic stress and — if we aren’t careful — burnout. 

And burnout can reveal itself in numerous ways. Prolonged tension puts unwanted burdens on our immune system, which is so essential in fighting off everyday pathogens, viruses, fungal, and bacterial infections. Stress left unchecked can also cause an inflammatory response leading to chronic disease, such as plaque buildup on your arterial walls, digestive issues, ongoing headaches, and elevated blood pressure. To add to the physiological issues of unmitigated stress, there are also psychological effects to protect against, which may lead to feeling depressed, anxious, nervous, or apathetic. 

By decompressing, you give the mind and body the ability to repair and rejuvenate. Stepping away from relationship issues and roadblocks gives the prefrontal cortex the ability to tackle problems from a fresh perspective. Your staycation should give you the respite to look at complex issues when you return from your break. 

Getting ready for your time off

Instead of just taking time off and jumping into your loungewear, spend time preparing to make the most of your freed up days and nights. Tidy up and clean your home, or pay a professional to clean the day before your staycation begins. Prepare or buy ready-to-go meals, ones you can quickly warm up and grab when leaving the house for an adventure. Wrap up emails and deadlines before leaving work, allowing you to return with a fresh start. Finally, loosely plan out your staycation beforehand; don’t waste days off trying to decide what to do. 

Things to do on your staycation

Since you are staying near your home, don’t tackle your to-do list or DIY home improvement projects. Trust me on this; they can wait. Rest instead. Think of your staycation as self-care if you are primarily alone or bonding time if you are enjoying it with others. Remember, when you travel away from home on vacation, you aren’t putting in new flooring or dusting ceiling fans. Vacations are designed for pleasure, leisure, and rest. Leave everyday life behind and enjoy being a tourist in your own city.

Think about what you might do during a regular vacation. For example, you might go to a restaurant you’ve never been to before. On your staycation, go to that expensive restaurant you’ve always wanted to try, or drive an hour away to test out a cafe you read rave reviews about. Consider being a tourist in your hometown and seeing the sights from a new perspective, maybe with a sketchbook, field guide, binoculars, or camera. 

Take that cheesy Segway tour and pretend you are from another country altogether. Learn who designed the buildings on the town square or take a drop-in class. Visit local art galleries and museums, or take the family to a water park. Go on a photographic scavenger hunt or take photos in places you’ve never been. Visit your local parks and wilderness areas to learn about the local fauna and native plants.

I’m willing to bet there is a richness in your city you haven’t uncovered yet — explore and take in the sights! No matter the size of your city, you can undoubtedly find an adventure you haven’t had yet or experience a familiar locale in an all-new way.  

Below are other ideas for enjoying your staycation. Some are budget-friendly, while others will get you out and exploring:

  • Sleep in! 
  • Unplug from social media and work.
  • Pamper yourself with a spa day or massage.
  • Take an unhurried day in nature.
  • Play board games.
  • Read a good book.
  • Take a cooking, pottery, or woodworking class.
  • Camp in your backyard or nearby state park.  
  • Organize a potluck picnic.
  • Relax and get social at a wine tasting.
  • Visit historical landmarks.
  • Try geocaching.
  • Spend the day at the lake or river.
  • Attend a local parade, festival, or holiday.
  • Enjoy a favorite neglected hobby.
  • Visit farmer's markets, co-op farms, and local businesses.

Things not to do during your staycation

Make the most of your staycation by refraining from the following:

  • Don’t schedule appointments to doctors and dentists. They can wait.
  • Don’t do chores. Do them beforehand.
  • Don’t answer emails. Throw on the “out of office” auto-responder.
  • Don’t be lethargic. Get out and explore your city.
  • Don’t do it alone. Ask friends or family to join you. 

Staycations help us reflect on our lives and how we can improve upon them. Having the time to pamper yourself can go a long way in helping you achieve the state of wellness you desire. You can recharge, connect deeply with those around you, and return to your usual programming totally refreshed. 


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