Sometimes it’s impossible to get away for a few days, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t escape your life for a little while. In my experience, we tend to overlook the great things our home cities have to offer as we maneuver regular and demanding responsibilities. If you’re in need of a break from the responsibilities of everyday life, a staycation might be your answer. One thing I’ve learned from being sidelined from travel for a while is that it’s not so much the destination that makes for an escape, but just getting away from your normal routine.
You can take a long weekend, or even just a regular weekend, and turn it into a mini-escape by availing yourself of all the cool stuff around you that maybe you’ve seen and wanted to check out, or that you’ve never even heard of. When I lived in NYC, I tried to make as many weekends as possible a “staycation” and since moving back to Dallas, I’ve done the same thing. Here are a few tips I’ve come up with over the years:
1. Treat Yo Self.
A staycation shouldn’t break your bank (otherwise what’s the point), but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t Treat Yo Self. Take your cue from Tom Haverford and Donna Meagle and commit to doing at least one thing that’s considered a splurge. Maybe it’s a nice dinner at a restaurant you’ve always wanted to try or a few hours at a spa, or maybe you spend one night at a B&B nearby. Just do something nice for yourself. It’s your vacation!
2. Forget your home and work responsibilities.
If you were on vacation, you wouldn’t be doing laundry or scrubbing the bathtub, right? Follow the same rules on your staycation. Let the house get a little messy. There may be some things you can’t ignore (like pool maintenance, picking up after kids, taking care of pets, etc.), but try to at least forego some of the housework duties that can wait a few days.
As for work, if you were on vacation, you probably wouldn’t be answering emails or checking your voicemail. Follow that same rule on your staycation. Unless it’s a life or death situation, I promise that whatever needs your attention can wait. Set an out-of-office reply that says you will not have access to email or voicemail for the duration of your staycation, just as you would if you were leaving town.
3. Try new things.
It may be tempting to do stuff you always do, like swimming or your local park. But try to mix it up for your staycation. Check the internet for fun, out of the ordinary things going on in your city; movie screenings or concerts at local parks, farmer’s markets, wine tastings, mini golf, museum exhibits….the list is endless! If it’s the holidays or Summer, there should be lots of things going on. You just have to commit to doing some digging a few weeks in advance. Mashable has a great list of several apps you can use to find events near you. You can also visit Eventful, which lets you search for events by category and dates, or utilize local city guides or magazines. Also, tap into friends and family as a resource. They might have great suggestions!
4. Make plans.
When you go on vacation, you probably at least have a loose itinerary; do the same thing for your staycation. Decide ahead of time the activities you want to do, so that you don’t end up falling back on your “normal” routine. This doesn’t mean you need to plan out every second, but having a set idea of what you will do each day will make it more likely that you’ll branch out. Plus, it’s easier to keep track of your spending if you know how much cash you’ll be shelling out ahead of time; a staycation is supposed to be a cheaper alternative to a vacation, after all.
5. Search for deals.
I’ve issued caution about Groupon Getaway deals in past posts, but for a staycation, Groupon or similar sites like LivingSocial have great activity deals that can both save you some money and give you ideas of activities you might not have thought to do. Go-karts, small museum tours, flying lessons, kayaking, brewery tours….the list is endless. Groupon has a “Things to Do” category specifically for this purpose. This can save you money and give you ideas, so it’s a win-win.
My final tip: RELAX! It might be tempting to let the everyday stresses of life affect you since you’re still technically “at home,” but try to resist the urge. Give yourself a break – you deserve it.