Sometimes you just need to get away. Unfortunately, it's not always in the budget. I travel 3-5 weeks a year and it's not always enough. I get it. During those times you can get a few days off, but you can't afford to get on a plane for a full-blown getaway, you can give yourself the gift of a relaxing and fun staycation.
Staycations are great, because you can make one fit into any budget you have. Here are my tops tips for a staycation that rocks.
Throw a themed party
Just because you can't go to Greece or Paris or Tokyo, doesn't mean you have to miss out. Find some themed tableware (I suggest Shindigz, but sometimes Oriental Trading has what you need and it's more affordable) and a great backdrop, or pictures you print out from the internet, and invite some friends to bring a dish that goes with the theme, that way you aren't footing the bill for the whole thing. Stream some appropriate music, find some interesting facts about your "destination" and enjoy a couple hours in another city.
Pitch a tent
We all know that packing up the car and doing all that stuff that comes with camping is stressful. Instead of that, get your tent out, pitch it in the backyard, make it comfier than usual with your favorite blankets, pillows and cushions and add details to make it awesome: battery-powered fairy lights, a short table (I have a similar one) or trunk to use for eating and playing games and pull your fire pit close by for s'mores, ghost stories and weenie roasts. (Here's a good one, but we have this one.) Make life easier on yourself by ordering out, then it'll really be relaxing. Still do those s'mores though!
Take a drive
We used to do this all the time. We packed a cooler with fun foods, threw a change of clothes in a bag (just in case) and just took a drive without a real destination. We picked a direction and just randomly turned and wandered. Usually, we'd end up somewhere cool that we never saw before, made lunch from our cooler, explored the area and then went home. Don't forget your camera, because you never know what you'll find.
Head to a new city
This probably sounds expensive, but you don't have to go far. Get in the car, head to a suburb that's easy to get to and you aren't super familiar with, park and enjoy it. Being on the outskirts of Portland, we are close to a lot of towns, many we don't really ever go to. In 30 minutes, I can be in a bunch of different places. Look for the downtown area, which usually has a charm of its own, and check it out.
Find an itinerary for your town
I know you haven't done everything in your city. Go online, check out a two- or three-day suggested itinerary from another local or traveler. Do the stuff they suggest that you haven't done and see your city with a new eye. Take a camera, pretend to be a tourist and really enjoy yourself. Buy a city card if you can and do all those touristy things you haven't done in a while, or at all.
Have a picnic
Either put together a lunch from stuff you have at home, pick up ready-made stuff from the local grocery store or hit up the farmers' market for yummy stuff. Head to a great park in your town and spread out your blanket (you can throw it over a picnic table if you don't want to sit on the ground). Enjoy your surroundings, do the cool stuff they have, like hiking or volleyball or frisbee golf and make a day of it. Don't forget your sunscreen.
Stay in a vacation rental
Maybe you're home enough and you just need a little bit of a change of scenery. I get it. Look on Airbnb and find an affordable rental nearby, but not too nearby. Maybe in a neighborhood you don't often go to. Pretend you're somewhere else and enjoy someone else's house for a few days. Bring your own food if that's the extent of your staycation budget.
Make outdoor movie night a thing
A few years ago, for Eric's birthday, I bought a Roku projector and screen. We use it to have outdoor movies, where we bundle up (because usually it's a bit chilly), find a Netflix movie and make snacks and popcorn. It's fun and it allows us to use our yard in another way. We've invited others over to partake as well. You don't have to invest in a big projection screen. Instead, grab a white sheet, hang it on a wall outside and you're set! We sit at our lawn furniture, but you can also throw blankets and pillows on the ground and pretend you're at the drive in or do it in the front yard in your driveway, sit in your car and pretend even better!
Dine al fresco
Much like packing a picnic lunch, but this doesn't require you to go anywhere. Sit out on your deck or in the backyard and grill, cook inside or get takeout and enjoy your backyard and lovely weather while you can. Eating outside feels a lot different than eating inside at the table or in front of the TV. For some reason, it feel more like vacation to me.
Learn a new language
Get ready for your next big vacation by learning a new language. I love Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur, but you could also take a class or invite your friends over to help learn with you. You can have your own mini class, have some themed nibbles and get in some fun socializing time.
A few reasons why staycations are awesome:
- You don't need anyone to take you to the airport.
- No packing/unpacking a suitcase.
- You save money for a traditional vacation.
- Jet lag doesn't exist.
- Do as much or as little as you want
Here are a few musts to get ready for a staycation, because if you're going to stay at home, you don't want to be pissed that you're there.
- Clean up the yard.
- Clean the house.
- Pull out everything you want to use beforehand.
- Put new bedding on the beds.
- Stock the fridge.
Do you include staycations in your life? If so, how do you make them awesome?