Plan a Staycation of Your Dreams
Summer and vacation go hand in hand like beaches and sand. Mountains and hiking. Late nights and sleeping in. Travel and expense. Huh? Yes, vacations can be costly and sometimes even stressful. But if you could, would you like to find a way to relax, spend time with family, and not spend lots of money? Maybe you should consider a staycation!
A staycation is like a vacation, but without the time, expense and stress of actually traveling. The most expensive part of vacations is usually the combination of travel, accommodations and meals. In an effort to get the most out of the money being spent, there is often temptation to do as much as possible to feel the trip was worth it. While the experiences of a traveling vacation can be exceptional, there's much to be gained from staying home — if you do it right.
The first step to even considering a staycation is to determine the expectations of those taking part. Is the time meant to be relaxing or exciting? Family time or individual time? What kind of activities do family members like to do? Brainstorm as a group to come up with ideas. Possible themes and activities could include:
- Relaxation — plan to spend time reading, sitting on a beach or at a pool, sleeping late, attending local concerts, wandering through shopping villages or browsing antique shops.
- Nature — find ways to go hiking, biking, gardening, visiting national parks or sanctuaries.
- Culture/Heritage — visit places like museums, landmarks, historical sites, memorials.
- Fun & excitement — check out local amusement parks, water parks, happenings on the boardwalk scene or city scenes.
- Sports — attend local sporting events, eat at sports-themed restaurants, visit a hall of fame.
- Family interests — what does your family like to do? Come up with a theme of your own!
Set a budget
While staying local will certainly save you money, you should still set a budget for your staycation. Your budget will probably be less than if you were going away, but more than you would spend at home. This exercise will guide you in planning your activities and reduce the stress or guilt of spending money you wouldn't normally spend.
Have a plan
This is the fun part! If you were traveling to a different state or country, you'd have a list of activities and sites you wanted to include in your trip. A staycation is no different. Be a hometown tourist. Put yourself in the mindset of someone who is visiting your home area. What is your area known for? What would a "tourist" do? What sites would they see or landmarks would they visit?
Using the expectations you determined, put yourself in the mindset of "traveling" to your area. Visit the local chamber of commerce or their website. Pick up tour guides at your library or travel club. Look at the ads in your local newspaper. Make a list of activities you'd like to do or places you've always meant to visit. Then choose the ones you plan to do each day.
Or make a list of low key activities to do at home. A backyard pool that the entire family seldom has time to enjoy together becomes a point of reconnection when everyone is together without anywhere else to go. A game of whiffle ball or croquet takes on a whole new feel when everyone is focused on playing together. Plant a garden. Explore plants or wildlife in your backyard or neighborhood. Nap in that hammock that's calling your name.
Splurge. You're saving money by staying home so do something you wouldn't generally do. Try out that expensive restaurant that doesn't fit into your regular budget. Spend a day at a spa. Hire a housecleaner if you don't have one. (Your room would be cleaned every day if you stayed in a hotel!) Take the kids to an attraction in the area that is usually cost prohibitive.
Make sleeping at home fun. Let the kids sleep somewhere other than their bed. Camp out in the backyard. Set up sleeping bags in the living room. Switch rooms with each other to mix it up. Have breakfast in bed.
Having a plan ahead of time will greatly reduce stress when you get up each morning. You can always change the plan, but having one to start with will make everyone happy.
Before you "go"
Prepare as if you were going away — pay bills, take care of the lawn, do all the laundry, pick up the house — do all the things you would do if you were going away. That way you won't be distracted or feel obligated to do your regular household "chores". And make a decision to not "get caught up" on household projects during this time. That will help relieve any guilt experienced
If you were going away, you'd let your office know you'll be unavailable. You must have the same mindset for a staycation. If you must be in communication with the office, at least designate one time during the day to check messages and email, but leave an out of office message indicating your limited accessibility. Remember, this is still your vacation. Same rules apply.
Consider notifying neighbors, family and friends that you will be on vacation and will not be available to them. If they wouldn't be with you on your travelling vacation, you wouldn't see them during that time anyway. This is entirely up to you, but consider the day trip you had planned being overshadowed by a play date invitation for a 3-year-old. Do you really need that distraction and stress? Or the talkative neighbor who comes to join you while you're relaxing in the yard with a cool drink and conversation with the spouse you haven't talked to in ages.
Making it count
No matter what you do for your staycation, the goal is for it to be relaxing, enjoyable, stress free and less expensive than if you went away. How you reach that goal is entirely up to you, but put some thought into it ahead of time to make the most of your vacation at home!