Ah vacation. How many of us don’t sometimes wish we could escape the hustle, bustle, & day-to-day responsibilities of our normal lives for a week of fun and relaxation somewhere far, far away?
The truth is that for many of us a traditional vacation is not always in the cards. Between restaurants, hotels, and transportation, travel costs can add up fast especially when those costs are multiplied for a family. And even when the cost isn’t a factor, sometimes health concerns or work obligations prevent us from leaving town anytime the urge strikes.
But that doesn’t mean when Spring Break or summer vacation time rolls around and the kids are home from school that you can’t still have a great time! This year, why not plan a vacation in your own backyard? A true Staycation is more than just a week at home; it is an intentional time of fun and relaxation for your whole family. It does take a little effort to do it right, but can ultimately be just as satisfying as going somewhere far away.
For most people—and moms especially—the hardest part of trying to “relax” at home is letting go of the all the everyday obligations and distractions that bombard us in our own homes. But the key to having the best Staycation ever ultimately has nothing to do with the activities you choose, but with your own attitude and commitment to making your week a time of fun and relaxation. Let the chores be for a week and instead give yourself permission to kick back and enjoy the moment. Laugh and talk with your kids and spouse and create memories that you will cherish for a lifetime. This is your time make the most of it!
A staycation is a period in which an individual or family stays home and participates in leisure activities within driving distance, sleeping in their own beds at night. They might make day trips to local tourist sites, swimming venues, or engage in fun activities such as horseback riding, paintball, hiking or visiting museums. Most of the time it involves dining out more frequently than usual. Some people may include one or two overnight visits at relatives, friends or a longer trip. Staycations achieved popularity in the US during the financial crisis of 2007-2010. Staycations also became a popular phenomenon in the UK in 2009 as a weak pound made overseas holidays significantly more expensive.
Common activities of a staycation include use of the backyard pool, visits to local parks and museums, and attendance at local festivals and amusement parks. Some staycationers also like to follow a set of rules, such as setting a start and end date, planning ahead, and avoiding routine, with the goal of creating the feel of a traditional vacation. It could also include a trip to the local zoo or aquarium. Some offer junior zookeeper programs or opportunities to feed the animals, while some others even allow you to spend the night in the zoo! Be sure to pack a lunch to save on pricey zoo fare! Possibly major or minor league sporting events. While major league events are a lot of fun, they can get pricey quickly, especially for a family. Luckily almost every city has a minor league team these days, which can give you (almost) the same experience for a fraction of the price! Be sure to check out which days include special events, such as free caps or fireworks for added fun! Play Outside – Go fly a kite, take a walk, go for a bike ride, or take a hike–most state and national parks have at least a few walking, hiking, or biking trails to choose from. Do a little research to find one that fits your family’s athletic ability, and then head out to enjoy the great outdoors. Don’t forget to pack snacks and water for your trek! These are but a few ideas, but there are a plethora of ideas of activities for families or even those that are solo to do.
The word staycation is a portmanteau of stay (meaning stay-at-home) and vacation. The term “daycation” is also sometimes used. The word became widely used in the United States during May 2008 as the summer travel season began with gas prices reaching record highs, leading many people to cut back on expenses including travel.
A closely related concept and term is nearcation, which is taking a vacation to a location relatively close to home. “Nearcation” and “staycation” may be used interchangeably since the travel destination may be in the same metropolitan region in which one resides and it is unclear how far away a destination needs to be until it becomes no longer a “staycation”.
Nearcation is a portmanteau of near and vacation. The alternate naycation (“nay” + “vacation”) has been used to signify total abstention from travel.
Staycations are far less costly than a vacation involving traveling. There are no lodging costs and travel expenses are minimal. Costs may include transportation for local trips, dining, and local attractions. “The American Automobile Association said the average North American vacation will cost $244 per day for two people for lodging and meals. Add some kids and airfare, and a 10-day vacation could top $8,000.”
Indeed, a few people go as far as leaving their home only for their usual errands (such as food shopping). Those with backyard swimming pools have an advantage as they can spend more time swimming without leaving their property and sometimes have as much fun as they might have had going anywhere.
Staycations may be of economic benefit to some local businesses, who get customers from the area providing them with business. In 2008, the tourism bureaus of many U.S. cities also began promoting staycations for their residents to help replace the tourism dollars lost from a drop in out-of-town visitors.
As staycationers are close to their places of employment, they may be tempted to go to work at least part of the time, and their bosses may feel their employees are available to be called into work. Staycationers also have access to their email (whether personal or business) at home as they would regularly, allowing them to be contacted, and feeling the temptation to keep up with this contact (whether business or social). These risks can be balanced by strictly adhering rules that make the experience feel like a real get-away, such as “no checking email,” or “no watching television.”
Staycationers may spend money they had not planned as retailers and other advertisers offer “deals” to encourage staycationers to spend money. These may include hotels making package deals in hopes of luring planned staycationers to do some travel. Staycationers can also finish a stay-at-home vacation feeling unsatisfied if they allow themselves to fall into their daily monotony and include household projects, errands, and other menial tasks in their vacation at home or near home.
Some things that may make a staycation more memorable and enjoyable. (1) Turn Off The Phone. While may sound obvious, but the point of a staycation is to have a vacation, and the point of a vacation is to get away from the demands of your regular life. To truly do so, you need to stop being ‘on call,’ and set your phone to go straight to voicemail. You can check your messages each night if you want to, and decide who you want to call back, but it may be a good idea to tell everyone you won’t be around for a week, and just take a break. You might also consider putting your mail on hold and take other precautions you’d take when you go on a traditional vacation? (2) The Computer. Many people make the mistake of taking work with them when they go on vacation (a strategy that tends to sabotage the relaxing element of a trip), it’s even more important to avoid being available for work when you’re on a staycation. (It may be more tempting to ‘check in’ at work, and they may feel more entitled to request it of you, which is all the more reason for the computer to stay off.) Even if you’re not planning to work with your computer, do you really think a week of playing World of Warcraft or Weboggle would be as relaxing and memorable as other options you have? (3) Try Something New Staycations mean you can play ‘hometown tourist,’ and enjoy the fun things that your city (or surrounding areas) have to offer, which you normally might go out of your way to experience. An added benefit of going to the touristy places in your area is that when you pass by these places after your staycation is over, your fond memories will be triggered and you can relive the fun. You may also be more inclined to do such fun things during the rest of the year when you’re not vacationing, which might provide a nice little escape that can help stave off burnout. (4) Don’t Over-Book Yourself As you indulge in the fun that your town has to offer, remember to schedule in some ‘down time’ to read, relax, sleep in, lollygag, and do all the things people really like to do on traditional vacations. The idea of a staycation is to feel like you’ve gotten a break, so be sure you get one. Just balance it out with fun activities also. And (5) Don’t Be Afraid To Splurge because you’re saving money by staying close to home, you can (and should) eat meals out and splurge in other areas, just like you would on a traditional vacation. If you want to go to brunch, get a massage, go shopping, or even hire a cleaning service to come if you don’t already have one (you’d get maid service in a hotel, right?), you should do so guiltlessly if you can afford to. It contributes to the carefree mindset you’re trying to capture with your staycation. It makes all the difference between a staycation and just a week hanging around.