With the economy still bad and people continuing to watch their budgets I’ve seen and heard a lot lately about “stay”cations or taking a vacation, but not going anywhere. Yes, it is a good way to save some money, but make sure that you do it right. A staycation done wrong will just waste your vacation time. Here are my top 7 tips if you choose to vacation at home.
1. Make Sure To Unplug
By this I mean unplug from your job and really make it a vacation. Turn off your laptop (or at least close your email program) and don’t check your email. On my iPhone I have it set up to get mail from our work Exchange server and this is easily turned off. Choose Settings * Mail, Contacts, Calenders and then select your work mail. From there you can turn off Mail – turn off the Calendars setting too to avoid getting unnecessary meeting reminders.
Also, make sure that your coworkers know you are on vacation. Just because you are in town does not mean you need to be available. If it comes up that you will be staying in town, make sure they know you won’t be available. You can mention that you’ll be taking some day trips (the more vague the better) and may not have access to email and may not have cell coverage. Then you need to follow through and not check your email and let any calls go through to voicemail.
Even though you won’t have travel arrangements to plan, still plan ahead and schedule things. Have a definitive start and stop to the vacation. Plan out your activities for the days and if you are taking day trips then make sure to figure out driving routes and good places to stop along the way.
3. Treat It Like Vacation
You really need to work to remind yourself that you are on vacation. Take your camera and video camera everywhere and take pictures just like you would on vacation. Even buying postcards and mailing them to your friends “back home” can be a fun family activity.
4. Act Like A Tourist
Treat your town as if you were a tourist. If you were going to a new city, you probably would check the official and unofficial tourism websites for activities. Do that for your own town and you will be surprised with the number of fun activities you have never thought to do. There are lots of examples of touristy things that you just never do when you live in a town. For example, I live in Austin, the capitol of Texas – and I still haven’t visited the Capitol building. Make sure you hit some of the touristy hot spots of your town that you just haven’t done.
5. Change Your Routine
This one is so important and challenging. Since you will be in familiar surroundings staying at home, the urge will be strong to keep up your usual routines. Work really hard to break the routines up. Sleep late, or get up early. Do something different every day for breakfast – go out for donuts or cook up omelets at home, but just do something different. This can be part of your planning as well if you have something different planned for each day then you just need to stick to your plan instead of falling into your usual habits.
This goes for the rest of your plans too – don’t just head out to your usual family haunts for things to do. Go across town and check out new places. This even applies to simple things like going to the park. Instead of going to the local park down the street, look up parks across town and explore. Kids love exploring new parks and just finding them can be an adventure as well.
6. Call In Professionals
Do not let this time at home be used up doing chores and work around the house. Hire someone to come in and clean your house either before, after, or during (if it won’t interrupt too much) your vacation. Resist the urge to do the cleaning yourself and use some of the money you are saving by not traveling. On the other hand, if you have other larger projects around the house that you really want to do, don’t do them during your vacation at all – either yourself or someone you hire. Trying to coordinate with a contractor or landscaper can really mess up your time and stress you out. This would be a great opportunity to use your upcoming staycation as motivation to get it taken care of on a weekend before your vacation.
One of the big benefits of a staycation is avoiding the headaches and hassles of planning, paying for, and executing the travel and hotel arrangements. Use this to your advantage and try hard to keep your stress down.
Also, one good activity to plan is heading out to a spa for a day of pampering. This works better without kids, but check around and you should be able to find a location that has kids activities to entertain them while you get to relax and rejuvenate. Short of a spa, you could even take advantage of your gym’s steam room, hot tub, or sauna for a bit of relaxation and pampering.
Keep your goals and your budget in mind. Don’t be afraid to spend some money, but don’t overdo things. When you head back into the office after your successful staycation well rested and relaxed with vacation pictures to show off, it will all be worth it.