By D.J. Wilson
Who wouldn’t love to jet out to an exotic location and be waited on attentively at the finest resort? While many of us have enjoyed the pleasure of an upscale retreat during our lifetime, we often lack the funds to repeat expensive vacations. With the reality of a bad economy looming over us, and with rising costs of gas and travel on the forefront, it’s easy to see why people are turning to staycations as an important alternative to expensive vacations. The word, staycation, is derived from the familiar words stay and vacation and simply means taking a vacation at home. The art of taking the perfect staycation is not as difficult as one may think. Take one week off, follow these easy steps, and turn your ordinary home into the vacation destination of your dreams.
- Treat it like a real vacation; relax. I don’t know of anybody who can’t wait to go on vacation to mow lawns, clean gutters, or scrub kitchen floors. When you’re on staycation, treat it like a real vacation and set aside big household chores. If the idea of the lawn not getting mowed is unbearable to you, hire someone to do it that week. Your goal is to relax at home, and you have the rest of the year to catch up on domestic tasks.
- Send a message; do not disturb. The whole goal of a vacation is to spend time relaxing and having fun, without distractions. While you’re on staycation, spread the word. Let people know you will be home but that you’re taking a break from work and social obligations for the week. A vacation entitles one to be a bit selfish, as it’s an appropriate time for us to focus on our own interests, needs, and wishes, for a change. It’s okay to put phone calls, errands, and business and social affairs on hold to focus on oneself for the week.
- Do the unusual; be creative. Most of us wake at a usual hour, dress, make our beds, eat a familiar breakfast, and follow a basic daily routine each morning at home. This redundancy adds up to boring, so go ahead and change things up on staycation. Rise and shine and greet the break of day. Instead of having breakfast at the kitchen table, fill a picnic basket with muffins, fruit, and cheese and enjoy breakfast outdoors. Or simply stay in bed to read your favorite book. By breaking up your old routine, your day will be much more interesting.
- Set the mood; make your home come alive. Each of us has a special travel destination near and dear to our hearts. Instead of longing to be somewhere else, bring the destination home. If it’s Hawaii that you long for, decorate your home in a tropical theme, garnish a drink with pineapple, and lay in a hammock listening to Hawaiian music. Heck, you can even wear a grass skirt if you’d like. There are no rules other than having fun. By setting the mood, you’ll enjoy the pleasures of your favorite travel destination, without the expense and hassle of travel.
- Plan ahead; take a few day trips. When planning a vacation, travelers often read literature about their destination. Do the same for your staycation. Familiarize yourself with what your neck of the woods has to offer. Most local newspapers publish guides of fun things to do in the area for each season. They feature local museums, aquariums, zoos, parks, gardens, theatres, festivals, wine & brewery tours, and musical events. Offering suggestions on things to do within drivable distances, they are valuable resources when planning a staycation. They provide ideas on shopping and fine dining, and an array of seasonal activities like swimming and ice skating. The possibilities of things to do near home are endless, and you can do as little or as much as you’d like. Planning ahead allows you to budget for the activities you like the most.
- Do something special; treat yourself. Treat yourself to a few pleasures, as if on a true vacation. If you enjoy going to the movies or eating out while on vacation, plan to do it on staycation. Instead of patronizing to the same old restaurants, go someplace special you’ve always wanted to go. If you like to souvenir shop, buy yourself a little trinket to remind you of your holiday at home.
- Take photographs; remember the fun! Remember your staycation by taking photos of all the memorable things you do. Create an album to share with family and friends, much as you do for a regular vacation. It will later serve as a reminder of your enjoyable experiences near home. If you decide to camp in your yard on staycation, why not photograph all the fun?
- Don’t feel guilty; it’s okay to say “No”. To make a staycation work, it’s okay to say “no” when asked to do things. We mistakenly think that since we’re home we need to stay in the active mode 24/7. If you’re asked to whip up something for the bake sale, babysit the grandkids, or plant flowers in the community, it’s okay to say “no” while on staycation. We’re often programmed to say “yes” all the time, but the truth is we need some time to unwind. Don’t let your staycation suffer, say “no” and enjoy a guilt free vacation.
- Be master of your time; stop and smell the roses. Take time to enjoy some of life’s simple pleasures at home. If your garden is in full bloom, instead of hurrying by, stop and smell the roses. Treat yourself like a guest in your own home, and make it a brand new experience. While you may plan some activities to do, don’t be tied to a tight schedule. Be master of your own time by doing what you like without rushing, and enjoy each hour as it gently passes.
- Be proud; enjoy the money you saved! The soaring prices of gas and tolls, airline and train tickets, and hotels and restaurants, are enough to make many of us delay or avoid travel. Choosing a staycation cuts many expenses and saves a bundle, while offering a chance to enjoy the perks of being at home.
The reality of the economy and budgeting come into play when planning a holiday. A staycation provides the opportunity to fully experience ‘Home Sweet Home’ and presents the perfect opportunity to get away without spending a fortune. Not only great for the budget conscious, it’s a wonderful way to unwind without the hassle of getting a passport, driving in traffic, or waiting in long lines at the airport. A staycation is also a terrific solution for seniors who are unable to travel due to physical constraints. Encompassing the idea of relaxation within the comfort of one’s home, it is a wonderful way to enjoy a week off from the daily hustle and bustle of our lives. When we take a trip, we escape the demands of life. It is not necessary to drive across country to do so. Take time to truly unwind at home and discover the magic in your own backyard.