Build a Better Staycation

Staycation (noun, informal): a vacation spent in one’s home country or state rather than abroad, or one spent at home, possibly involving day trips to local attractions.

For many, just the word staycation sounds dull, dull, dull. While I personally wouldn’t put a vacation in your home country in the staycation category, I also believe that staycations can be anything but dull. When a week at a tropical resort or a cross-country road trip or a visit overseas is unaffordable, there are still plenty of ways to make a staying close to home something more than lawn chairs in the backyard.

There are basically three ways to staycation:

  1. Stay at home.
  2. Stay someplace in your community, overnight or even for a couple of days if possible.
  3. Visit/stay somewhere within your state, or within a day’s driving distance of your house.

None of the above is any worse or better than the others, and how you choose to staycation will depend on your budget or what’s available locally.

It’s still a staycation if you and your family or spouse or whoever get in the car and drive over to someplace different in the state or even in the next state over. All those camping trips we took in Oregon for so many years count as staycations. We loaded up our car, headed south for four hours, and for very little money our family was in a new and different environment, with different things to see, do and eat. Every one of those trips was a welcome respite from our usual routine. Same for the Thanksgiving weekends we sometimes spent out on the Oregon coast at family friendly lodges, or at a friend’s beach house. Even Brett and my overnight stays at fancy hotels that we sometimes did for our anniversaries counted as staycations.

One of our favorite staycation memories involved a Portland B&B that Brett and I visited for a quick getaway when our son was in high school. It was affordable, but close enough that we could get home quickly if our son needed anything. The room Brett and I reserved was lovely, and had a working fireplace. The owner brought us a compressed log, and told us it would burn out in a couple of hours or less. So, we lit what we thought would be a short, cozy little fire but the log would not go out. We spent most of the night wide awake, watching shadows from the flames flicker and dance across the ceiling of our room. We got a lovely surprise in the morning though when we went down for breakfast: our favorite antique dealer in Japan just happened to be visiting Portland and just happened to be staying at the same B&B, so along with an amazing breakfast we got to have a lovely catch-up and chat with him. All our bad feelings about the ever-burning log were (almost) erased.

If you can’t get away or travel for a vacation, there are lots of ways to make even a vacation at home special, fun and even memorable. Here are some ideas for building a better staycation, from Real Simple magazine:

  • Tune out the outside world: Stop the paper, the mail, don’t read email, and don’t check the news. In fact, turn off your computer and put it away if you can. Turn off the ringer on your phone, and pick one time each day to check your calls. Don’t return calls from anyone but family. Hide all the alarm clocks. Be on vacation.
  • Have someone else do it: Order out or go out for dinner every evening, even if it’s just for burgers or pizza. If you’re the family cook, tell the family you’re on vacation for the week, and make sure there are easy options for everyone to grab for breakfast and lunch, or have other family members do the cooking and clean-up. Hire someone to come in for a day and clean your house. Set up childcare or overnight swaps with friends or neighbors so that adults get some “alone time” (they watch your kids while you’re on vacation, you watch theirs later).
  • Create a vacation mood: This can be as simple as putting out Dollar Store tea lights in your backyard in the evening during the summer, or playing “vacation” music, maybe from a different country or culture, or a different style of music than you typically listen to (i.e. beach or country music). Throw away your usual schedule – do things when you feel like it, including getting up in the morning.
  • Have fun: Create your own film festival during your time off. Set up a tent in the backyard and camp, or at least let your kids camp for the week. Go on a reading binge. Make one day “Games Day” with your kids, or have a Bathing Suits Only Day in the summer – water balloons or super soakers, anyone? Visit somewhere different in your town every day: amusement or water parks, museums, bakeries, local tours, etc. Try out geocaching.
  • Relax: Give yourself or your spouse a “spa day,” with an aromatherapy soak in your tub, and hydrate yourself all day with cool water flavored with lemon, orange or cucumber. Hire a massage therapist that makes house calls. Create a yoga retreat in your living room one day.
  • Enjoy some luxury hotel amenities: Have someone else deliver you breakfast in bed – you can rotate this service among family members – make sure there’s a flower on the tray. If it’s not too hot, pamper yourself with a plush cotton terry robe. You can buy it new for your staycation, and enjoy it for the rest of year, or even years later. Same for indulging in some high thread-count sheets and pillowcases. Buy some expensive chocolates, and have someone else treat you to “turndown service” (another thing that could be rotated among family members.”

A staycation can be far more than just staying home for a week, even if all you can afford to do is stay home. Just because you can’t hop on a plane, or take a road trip, a vacation at home can be a wonderful, relaxing and memorable experience.

Brett and I will be taking a quick Kaua’i staycation this coming weekend to celebrate our anniversary (which was last month, right after we got home from Japan). We’re looking forward to having some local “down time,” and being able to take advantage of our hotel’s location and amenities, even if it’s just for one night. We’ll also be trying out the restaurant a couple of doors down the highway for the first time, and enjoying its delicious offerings and ocean views.

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5 thoughts on “Build a Better Staycation

  1. Jennifer Eldredge says:

    A stay-cation to me is no work, a day trip, and home-sweet-home to our own beds. Any time we sleep anywhere else, it is a vacation, even if just for one night. And definitely if it involves air travel. That is my definition and I am sticking to it. 🙂

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    • Laura says:

      Your definition is a pretty good one! Any destination that requires air travel is a vacation to me as well, not a staycation. But driving a few hours to a campground is a staycation vacation, especially if you go to the same campground every year (which is pretty much what we did).

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  2. Natalie says:

    We’ll be taking a staycation this upcoming weekend, too. It will be nice to have someone else make the bed, and prepare our meals so we can relax and have fun.

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    • Laura says:

      For me, that’s what makes any vacation or staycation a relaxing experience, whether it’s in my hometown or any place else: someone else prepares the meals and cleans up. For Brett, it’s not having to drive anywhere.

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  3. Laurel says:

    I like these tips. Most times, I have to physically leave my home or I will look around and see things I want done and get moving in that direction. Not very relaxing. 🙂 But I can take a day or two and be lazy, which feels like a staycation, particularly if I’ve just cleaned. This week we hosted my mom and step-father and also hosted Easter brunch. And we have grandkids visiting for three days. When they all leave, I’m going to schedule a massage and see a movie. And sleep!

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