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5 Staycation Tips For A Real-Vacation Feeling

Staycation Tips
Allianz - Staycation Tips

“Staycation planning” sounds like an oxymoron. The point is to do nothing, right? Sleep in, binge-watch some shows, get takeout, chill.

But you do need to plan your staycation, and here’s why. Without some kind of structure, it’s easy to slip into your average weekend routine: playing with your phone, checking your work email, scrubbing the shower… Use these staycation tips and ideas to help you plan your time off so it feels like a real vacation.

1. Get the prep work done before your staycation begins.

If you’re staying in your own home, invest some time in making it feel like a hotel. Hiring a maid service is one easy way to spiff things up, and also will free you from any desire to dust the baseboards during your staycation. TV travel host Samantha Brown has some suggestions for giving your house a hotel vibe: “Buy some fresh flowers (maybe even put some in your bedroom!), and invest in a nice candle or two. If you’re a coffee fan, buy fancier coffee than you normally would (same if you’re a tea drinker!). Maybe buy some delicious pastries for breakfast the next morning.”1

2. Choose a theme for your staycation.

Everyone has their own traveling style — active or relaxed, indulgent or healthy — and it can easily be applied to an at-home vacation too. Defining your approach can help you come up with fun staycation ideas, such as:

  • Tourist in Your Own Town: Visit nearby museums and attractions you’ve never tried before. Join a walking tour of nearby historic sites.
  • Active Traveler: Try athletic pursuits you’ve always been curious about: indoor rock climbing, stand-up paddle boarding, or mountain biking. Hire an instructor to help you perfect your golf or tennis game.
  • Runaway Gourmet: Make reservations at three of the best restaurants in your city. Taste unfamiliar cuisines: Indonesian? Guamanian? Take a food or brewery tour.
  • Serenity Now: Do a seven-day yoga challenge. Download some guided meditations. Book a massage, reflexology or acupuncture session. Try a treatment you’ve never done — we’re partial to saltwater float pods and Korean baths.
  • Grown-Up Summer Camp: Sleep-away summer camp for adults is a real thing (check out Camp Bonfire), but you can also recreate the experience with a staycation. Go camping, get crafty, rent a canoe and roast some marshmallows.

Try a New Life: No one said you have to stay home. Search Airbnb or HomeAway for something nearby but completely different from your boring old house, like a Victorian farmhouse or an urban loft. If you trade your suburban digs for urban ones, embrace the lifestyle that comes with it: gallery openings, concerts and rooftop bars.

3. Set a staycation budget.

If you set your budget at zero, not much fun will follow. It’s hard to feel like you’re on vacation when you’re eating freezer-burned chicken fingers and leftover takeout. But the point of a staycation is to avoid the expense of a trip. How much can you spend to achieve your goals while still saving money?

One way is to figure out exactly how much you’re saving. By forgoing plane tickets, a hotel stay and restaurant meals, you may already be more than $1,000 in the black. Could you spend a third of that and still feel virtuous? Or half?

Also, search for staycation deals. Let’s say you’re planning a wellness staycation. Seven days of yoga classes could cost $100.  A massage, $75. A saltwater float, $80. You can reduce these costs by searching for deals online (think Groupon or Living Social) or by opting for virtual courses.  

4. Buy a few souvenirs.

One of the pleasures of traveling is bringing home a few meaningful mementoes. There’s no reason you can’t do that during your staycation, too. Shop local boutiques, or just buy something pretty for your house. The Kitchn’s Faith Durand bought a set of mugs she’d been coveting: “I pulled them out of their box on the first day of staycation and we drank our coffee out of them every day — a little treat and souvenir of our week off.”2

5. Protect your staycation.

Just like on a real vacation, things can — and will — go wrong during a staycation. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to defend it.

  • Don’t tell colleagues you’re doing a staycation. They’ll expect you to be available to handle work crises, because you’re not “really” gone. Instead, say something vague about heading out of town, and turn on your out-of-office autoresponder.
  • Don’t tell friends, either. Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, there’s something delicious about being utterly free from social obligations during your staycation.
  • Protect staycation trips with travel insurance. At Allianz Global Assistance, we define a “destination” as a place more than 100 miles from your primary residence where you spend more than 24 hours of your trip. So if you do spend part of your staycation in a nearby city or at the beach, it may be smart to cover your prepaid costs with travel insurance, in case you need to cancel for a covered reason. Your best bet is the ultra-low-cost OneTrip Cancellation Plus Plan, which includes trip cancellation/interruption benefits without other bells and whistles.

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