How to Turn a Staycation into Vacation

staycation picnic in the backyard

We’re all trapped in our homes now, canceling vacations, wishing we were somewhere else, trying to stave off cabin fever. With Memorial Day weekend coming up soon, it seems even more weird to not have a quick trip planned or at least some local socializing on the books. Enter: staycation.

Last year, long before COVID-19 disrupted everything, Brian and I planned a staycation over the Memorial Day week. We took the whole week off and it was going to be amaaaayzing. Well, it wasn’t a complete failure but it definitely didn’t live up to the italics.

Last year’s big experiment: homemade pizza on the grill – definitely a success!

Staycation Rules

This time around we’re putting some parameters in place to help our staycation feel like an actual vacation.

1. No chores on staycation

Would you clean your own hotel room? Do you wash your own laundry when you travel? Do you mow your vacation rental’s yard? Oh, no? Then don’t do it on your staycation!!

2. Upgrade your “lodging”

Imagine the money you’re saving by not traveling and not paying for a hotel. Now transfer some of that savings into a special treat to make your place extra awesome when you’re staycating.

For us, that means maximizing enjoyment of our patio by buying misters (and getting them connected before staycation starts: see item #1.)

3. Make a staycation hospitality basket

Go shopping for all the fun things you find delightful at a hotel or an airbnb – grab a basket and fill it up with fresh fruit, a nice bottle of wine, some pastries, good coffee, fancy chocolates. Put it together and set it on your counter so it’s there for you to indulge in all week.

These small batch local treats from Chocaleterie Tessa are definitely going in our basket.

4. No dieting on staycation

You don’t have to eat like a crazy hog but don’t stick to business as usual with your food either. Create some interesting meals – theme them out if you want: a visit to Asia or some hearty European fare! Or just plan to indulge in some of your favorite foods that you don’t often get.

Brian and I are sure to spend a lot of time with pink wine and fancy cheese on the back patio as we’ve spent many a vacation whiling the days away like this.

Scrabble and rosé at an outdoor café in Montpellier, France

5. Stop working

Do you bring your laptop with you on vacation? (Well, you shouldn’t.) Resist the temptation to just open your laptop for “a quick minute.” This is your time to relax and your co-workers should know it. If you have a home office – close the door and don’t step foot in it! Put up a ‘gone fishing’ sign outside your door if you need a reminder.

6. Staycation is anything but routine

Do things differently than you usually do.

  • Have a slumber party in your living room.
  • Pitch a tent and go camping in your backyard or spread out a blanket and have a picnic.
staycation picnicking in the backyard
Backyard picnicking at its finest!
  • Go to the “spa”: fluff your robe and towels in the dryer, light a scented candle, and soak in a bath with a fancy bath bomb. Added bonus: bring a glass of champagne or sparkling water with fresh fruit in with you.
  • Try a new restaurant. If you’re bold enough to go out to eat these days or if you can order in – pick a place you’ve never tried; it’s a no brainer way to log a new experience.

If the weather is warm enough, we may buy a pool and fill it up in our backyard. It won’t be as nice as our usual beach destination, it may not be as fancy as a hotel pool, but it’ll be ours.

real vacation beach, not staycation
Grateful that we got to go to Great Exuma, Bahamas this February, before the madness.

7. Turn off the TV

If you want to watch a movie to decompress after the day, go ahead. But plan to spend more time actually being productive with each other:

  • Go for a hike
  • Play a board game
  • Work on a puzzle together
  • Prepare a complicated meal

Brian and I plan to explore the heck out of Austin on our bikes.

We’re also going to break out a fun Finnish lawn game called Mölkky that our friends turned us on to a couple of summers ago. (And will be transported to some upper crust vacation spot where one takes the waters in the morning and spends afternoons playing lawn games and sipping gin and tonic on the veranda.)

Molkky Outdoor Game - Tactic Games - The TreeHouse Toy Store ...

8. Document it!

Don’t let being at home lull you into staying in your jammies all day, not showering, and basically acting like you’re on one long sick leave. Get dressed! Clean yourself up, fix your hair, and take some pictures of you enjoying your time together. It’ll feel more real and outside of the norm of your day to day life, not to mention the memories you can keep for posterity. (And the endorphin rush you’ll get from all the likes on your Instagram posts, if you’re into that. :p)

staycation visit to Mueller park
Dragon sculpture at Mueller park in Austin, TX

9. Last but not least: don’t fill your staycation with obligations

This is staycation, not free time to run errands or do household maintenance. If you must use a day for this, put it on the front or the back end either before you “leave” or after you “come home.”

Cancel any standing appointments on your calendar. For all the world knows, you are away!

YES, you should enjoy all the creature comforts that come with being in your own home.

NO, you should not think of your staycation as a time to “be productive.” It’s not. It’s a time to relax, recharge, and just to…be.

staycation husband and dog in the backyard.
Brian and Barkley, just “being” (totally adorable) in our backyard

We haven’t put all of these into practice yet but I’ll be sure to post an update after we’ve had our Memorial Day staycation and let you know how it went!

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One Reply to “How to Turn a Staycation into Vacation”

  1. […] and reporting back: staycation 2020 was a resounding success! I posted a couple of weeks ago with ideas for how we were going to improve upon staycation 2019 and it actually helped us a […]

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