By Rachel Means
Winter and the holiday season are upon us once again! There’s nothing quite like back-to-back-to-back holiday celebrations crammed with school plays, cold weather, crazy relatives, and more baked goods than you can shake a stick at quickly followed by New Years’ Resolutions to make you really long for a vacation. The bad news is more money is spent in the last two months of the year than at any other time of the year, and that likely means vacation funds are depleted to see out-of-state relatives or to buy presents for the kids. The good news is you don’t have to spend a lot of (or any!) extra money to enjoy a relaxing vacation at home.
Staycations are the answer to holiday burnout and bills, and they come in all shapes and sizes to suite different needs. Take a day, a weekend, or a whole week for a staycation escape from your everyday schedule. Plan it just like any other vacation with fun activities, food, and relaxation taking top priority. Chores can wait; you’re on vacation!
The key to a really good staycation is creating convincing details so your brain really believes it’s on vacation. Set up a beach lounger in your living room. Turn on a YouTube video of the beach, complete with waves and seagull noises. Direct a fan to blow a gentle breeze on your face. Spend the day reading a good book and drinking fruity drinks with umbrellas from a neon bendy straw. Add a box of sand to dig your toes into, and you’ve got all the key elements of a beach vacation. Or maybe you’re dreaming of international travel? Pick up your favorite international snacks from the grocery store and enjoy a day at home binge-watching movies set in your desired location. Need more staycation inspiration? Let’s look at some popular options.
An oldie but a goodie staycation idea: go on a Christmas light scavenger hunt. Load everyone into the car with their own thermos of hot chocolate or apple cider, play your jolliest music playlist, and just drive through neighborhoods in search of the best Christmas light displays. Not sure where to find them? Try googling “best Christmas lights in [your city],” and you’re sure to find a few. Many towns have their own festival of lights, which may or may not have an entrance fee, but they’re much easier to find and always promise impressive displays. Keep up the fun at home! Get a small, $20 fake Christmas tree for each bedroom in the house and have a decorating contest at home with inexpensive supplies from a dollar store. Make a beach-themed tree, a city-themed tree, or choose your favorite destination. Need to burn off some excess energy instead? Go outside and enjoy the snow, if you have it! Build a snowman, make snow angels, or have a friendly snowball fight. A day or an evening away from the house can do wonders to destress and reset your winter outlook.
Another favorite staycation idea for younger kids: Camp out in your backyard or living room. Your local weather will make that decision for you, whether to camp inside or outside, but you’ll have a fun time either way. Set up a tent or build an epic pillow and blanket fort. Start a campfire or burn a fall-scented candle. Make hot chocolate and smores. Watch the night sky or stream a show about the night sky. Fall asleep in your sleeping bags to crickets or a 12-hour YouTube video of soothing outdoor night sounds. Camping at home has all the perks of going away to camp but with the convenience of central heat and heated showers, and there won’t be any raccoons trying to steal your food!
For the older kids and adults: Be a tourist in your hometown. Visit the museums, shops, and other touristy sites. Winter is often low season for tourism, unless you’re one of the lucky few that lives near a southern beach, so crowds should be minimal. Ask for a local’s or military discount; some places have them. Others offer fee-free days or special hours, like the first Saturday of the month. Splurge on a popular restaurant or just go for drinks and dessert. If you’ve got some hotel loyalty points to burn, stay a night at a hotel for free and splurge by ordering room service.
These are just a few examples of the many varieties of staycations. Customize your staycation to your needs, budget, and weather, and get a well-deserved break from the chaos of the holidays without maxing out your credit cards. What will your staycation look like?