Staycations! Fun, right?!? Please don’t groan and roll your eyes. I’m here to offer some ideas that will make you glad you didn’t load up your car or stand in that eternal TSA line at the airport.
Why staycations are great!
They’ve gotten a bad rap, but there are good reasons for staycations:
- They’re budget-friendly. This does not mean boring. But without hotels and big-ticket transportation costs, limited funds can be used for fun–not fundamentals.
- They’re eco-responsible. The carbon footprint from travel is a growing concern. In a recent New York Times article, author Andy Newman debates the thrill of travel versus its impact on global warming. By sticking close to home, we’re helping the environment.
- They’re relaxing–and surprising. No suitcases to pack and haul. No complicated travel connections. No adjusting to different mattresses or night noises. Ahhhh…and yet, there are cool discoveries to be made in the area you call “home.”
First, make a mental adjustment
Before we launch into the list of ideas for staycations, please raise your hand and solemnly swear that you won’t use your precious time for dull chores. This is vacation! Those tasks can wait another week or two.
If need be, pretend you really have traveled to a new destination. Get a guidebook for your area and study it as if you were headed to Paris. Spread out a map and make a circle to mark a 2-3 hour distance from home. Buy fresh sunscreen, a bawdy book, or new sheets for your bedroom…whatever it takes to wrap your mind around this.
Ready? Here are some ideas to get you started…
- Parks and playgrounds. If you were in another place, you might take your book or journal and head to the local park, find a bench, and enjoy the scenery. Maybe you’d choose a spot by a playground, to watch how parents care for their children. Try it with a fresh eye.
- Trees and trails. How long has it been since you hiked those trails in the forest preserve or state park? You’d like to, but there are always other obligations, so you postpone. Pack a picnic and spend a day outdoors.
- Water and amusement parks. One of the benefits of staycations is that you can adapt your schedule to the day’s weather. Depending on the forecast, head to the water park or to your local version of Six Flags. With the hefty admission prices these places charge, you’ll be glad you don’t also have to pay for a hotel and extra meals.
- Classes and workshops. Check your library, park district, and local college calendars to find interesting workshops and classes. My own community college offers three-hour classes on making sushi, glass art, and 3D printing. The library has a daytime book club.
- Tours for everything. Did you know you can tour an Amazon Fulfillment Center for free? Do you have a local microbrewery or distillery? How about a food tour, either by a company or self-guided? No matter your interest, there’s a tour for it. I always start with Viator to find local tours.
- Food, food, food! With staycations, you have both extra time and money to spend on food. One of the most fun ways to “get a taste” of a place is to enjoy a meal or cooking lesson in someone’s home. EatWith offers both experiences, as well as market tours. You may also want to make reservations at that new restaurant that all the critics love. Try a different ethnic cuisine, take a dinner cruise, or go to a gospel brunch!
- Find live entertainment. Theatre, concerts, opera, comedy clubs…it’s all waiting for you. Use staycations to finally see the artists and performances you’ve craved for years. Because you’re a local, you’ll have an easier time locating the smaller venues that tourists never even know about.
- Go to a game. Are you a sports fan, but hate fighting weekend crowds? This is your chance to go to a daytime game or watch your local semi-pro team. Easier to get to and less expensive. Win-win! (Don’t forget college and high school teams–they can be fun, too!)
- Fairs and festivals. All year long, there are reasons to get out and celebrate. State fairs are the gold standard, but nearly every town has some kind of festival. Here’s a list to get you inspired. If staycations are planned with these events in mind, all the better!
- Museums and education. Stimulate your brain by finding a new museum…or return to a favorite. During everyday life, it’s easy to skip an interesting exhibit or to decide to paint the kitchen. But on staycations, that small museum devoted to pizza, teapots, or mousetraps might be exactly what you want–and that you wouldn’t have visited otherwise.
- How about a spa day? With the money you’ve saved, how about splurging on a spa or massage? Use Groupon or Living Social to locate the place and price for the services you want. Just remember to tip well.
Make it exactly what you want and need
Want to sleep late? Or maybe you like to watch the sunrise while everyone else is in bed. Feeling lazy one day? Fine–no pressure to go far. Stay home and invite friends over for a simple cookout. The whole idea of staycations is to explore your area, and balance it with the comforts of home. I’m willing to bet that yours will be awesome!
What have you done on a staycation? Tell us in the comments below!
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