In the early 1990s, my EX had just started a new job so he had no vacation time. I was involved in collecting continued education hours for my teaching certificate and curriculum writing meetings, and my children were involved with Whiz Kids, a summer program of workshops for elementary-aged children through the local community college. Not only were we busy, but money was tight.
A vacation was out of the question, but I still desired to get away from the house. I opted for a staycation (a term coined by Canadian comedian Brent Butt in 2005).
We took time to explore the free and inexpensive activities that our city had to offer: spend time at the two large children’s play parks, walk each morning down by the river or through the outdoor community gardens, and explore nearby attractions.
Do you know all the things to do that exist in your community or the communities around you? I was amazed one year when I had that discussion with my high school students. In their eyes, there was nothing to do. I challenged them with an assignment to create a travel brochure that highlighted the best things to do in their community.
WHAT IS A STAYCATION?
A staycation is time off work where you stay at home and think like a tourist in your own community. It may be a day here and a day there because you only have set days where you don’t have to go in to work, or it might be a full week or two. Either way, on the days you declare you are on “vacation,” you don’t think about work, nor do you think about any major household projects. You are on “vacation.”
For some people, this is difficult because we so often connect time off work with time to tackle major projects indoors and outdoors.
- I have a week off so we can put in that raised bed garden.
- I have tomorrow off so we can clean out the garage.
- Let’s paint the house while you are home this weekend.
- I have tomorrow off so I’m going to clean house and get the laundry done.
Nope. Don’t plan to do any of that.
HOW TO STAYCATION
First off, you need to decide ahead of time that you will be on “vacation” and declare that to yourself and those you live with.
Second, check your budget. How much extra money do you have to spend on this staycation? Will spending it stress you out? Do you need to save it for something else? Stay within what you feel you can comfortably afford. This will dictate the types of activities you can schedule.
Third, you need to brainstorm on paper. What do you want to do on your staycation? What events or festivals are in your own backyard? Do you want to explore some of the attractions that you have seen advertised on billboards or on TV? Do you want to dine at some specific restaurants that you haven’t had time for? Is there a festival or county fair during your staycation? Write everything down.
Fourth, when you have exhausted your knowledge, consult with Google about what to do in your community, county, or even section of the state. I usually type in “Things to do near me.”
Last, decide on the duration of your staycation and schedule what you want to do, make reservations, purchase tickets, and look forward to your staycation.
WHAT ABOUT THE HOUSEHOLD CHORES?
The tasks that I allow myself on a staycation include anything I would need to do if I was camping or staying at a VRBO.
MEALS: I plan simple meals on a staycation – think sandwiches, entree salads, or grilling in the backyard. You may, however, decide on dining at a favorite restaurant or one you have always wanted to try. I usually like to do lunch out and take half home for dinner. I also try to eat lunch later so that I only need a light dinner like cheese, deli meats, and crackers. Kitchen clean-up is also allowed. You don’t want those dishes to pile up in the sink.
LAUNDRY: When I was camping, I only did laundry once a week if I needed clothes. If you start your staycation with empty laundry baskets, you can usually make it a week. You may also need to wash towels and sheets. You decide but only do what is necessary.
BATHROOMS: Yes, if you stay at a hotel, someone comes in to clean the bathroom and make your bed, but in the post-COVID world, that service is no longer a daily occurrence.
BONUSES OF A STAYCATION
THE BED: You get to sleep in your own bed. So many times when I go on a trip, I cart along my pillows and a fleece blanket. I also find many beds uncomfortable. Plus, you aren’t checking the hotel room or other accommodations for cleanliness or bugs.
LAUNDRY: Clothes always get dirty. Someone will always need to do laundry, but when you are on vacation, laundry must be done in the hotel washer/dryer, or you need to find a laundromat. Either way, you spend extra money to do your laundry.
DECIDING WHAT TO PACK: When I took my last birthday week in Florida, I had difficulty figuring out what to wear. Florida weather in March on the Gulf Coast can be unpredictable. I packed for cool weather, nice weather, hot weather, and stormy weather. With a staycation, you have access to your entire closet.
FOOD: Granted, most hotel rooms have at least a cube refrigerator and a microwave, while others have a complete kitchenette. If you don’t bring your own food, you might find yourself paying tourist attraction city prices.
On most vacations, I find myself eating lunch and/or dinner at different restaurants.
On a staycation, you can choose to grill out or cook indoors with your own stuff. You don’t have to eat in a restaurant for every meal. True, that means that no one will wait on you, but you are not competing with the rest of the tourists for a table at a great restaurant.
DRAWBACKS? YES, I CAN THINK OF ONE DRAWBACK
CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELF: You will need to do your own dishes, but if your kitchen has a dishwasher, it’s a pretty easy task.
I’M PLANNING MY STAYCATION
There are a number of places I have wanted to visit in Middle Tennessee and they have found their way onto my staycation list: Nashville Zoo, General Jackson Showboat, Marathon Village, and Owl’s Hill Nature Sanctuary to name a few.
If you have no time or money is tight this year, I urge you to try a staycation. Even if you stay at home and have a big water fight with the kids and grandkids, take time to have fun.
Stay tuned for updates on where I go and what I do.
What about you?
Will you take a staycation or a full vacation? What will you do on your staycation? Please take a moment to share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.
Until next time . . .
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