I love going on vacation and discovering new places. But it can get expensive fast. You have to plan out your trip months in advance, book transportation, and hotels and you have to pay for 3 meals a day. I like to go on 1-2 trips a year but what I got great at doing is taking a staycation. A staycation is a vacation where you stay in your own home and explore the town around you. You can rediscover your town or city without the distraction of everyday routine. And you skip the stress and expense of traveling.
What I love most about staycations is that there isn’t any pressure to go places or do things. The beauty is that you can do things at your own pace and most importantly relax in the comfort of your own home. To get in vacation mode, it helps to go way outside your routine. Go to the rock-climbing gym. See the local improv troupe. Visit the aquarium. Check out the new arcade, spa, or themed restaurant that just opened. Tour a historic home. Explore a neighborhood or public park you’ve never been to. Whatever you do, make sure it’s something you wouldn’t have the time for normally, but you’d be up for trying once.
Here are my tips on what you can do and see to make the most of your staycation.
EXPLORE YOUR TOWN
If you have been in your town for a while now, you may think that you’ve done everything and see all that there is too see. But you’re wrong! There are so many different events going on and new places opening up that you haven’t seen yet. Be a tourist in your town, go explore a part of the city you’ve never been too.
Go to the free museums, sit in a park and have lunch, walk around a fair that’s going on or shop in stores that have just opened up. I love seeing different parts of my town and exploring things that I’ve never seen or done before. One thing that I’ll be doing next week is going to a bicycling event at a Velodrome park. My dad loves bicycling and I’ve had never been to this stadium before even though it’s right down the road from me.
UNPLUG FROM ELECTRONICS
Now if you are like me, the idea of totally going on the grid (aka not going on social media or the internet) sounds wonderful but is also terrifying. I love knowing what is going on all the time and I am constantly on my phone and Twitter. My phone is glued to me. However, the idea of putting my phone away and not looking at if for an entire weekend (or week) sounds freeing. Make your staycation a device-free zone by vowing to only check your smartphone during short, pre-set times (or not at all, if you’re really daring!). Try a week without the TV. It may feel a little uncomfortable at first, but you’ll be amazed by how quickly you adapt (and start to enjoy it). Limiting your internet communication can be a great way to take a time-out from the rhythm of daily life.
CHECK OUT FREE LOCAL EVENTS
My town right now is having a huge music event that is 10 days long. There’s great bands, food, and tons of things that you can do and see. This is just during the summer but there are always free festivals and fairs going on all year long. I love going to them and exploring the local food vendors and artists. It’s also a chance for me to be immersed in all the culture that my town has. I am from Pennsylvania and am Pennsylvania Dutch (from Germany) and I love seeing all the art and eating bratwurst and sour kraut!
Most towns have some sort of summer festival (or festivals) on offer — art festivals, cultural festivals, music festivals, not to mention local and community fairs. For free, or the cost of a small admission fee, you can spend the day walking around and taking in the sights. Search for what your city has to offer, then check out everything you can.
HAVE A SPA DAY
Have a self-care day by treating yourself to a spa day. You can have this at home to go to a local spa that offers relaxing massages and treatments. If you’re more budget-conscious, you can have a spa day at home! Turn your bathroom into a luxurious spa with the help of a bubble bath, bath oils, homemade facial treatments, and a soothing eye pillow. Just add candles and a relaxing soundtrack and let the worries of everyday life fall away. I love to take a nice relaxing bath, then put on a face mask and paint my nails. Another thing that you plan into your spa day is a nap. Whether it’s on a hammock under the trees or your screened-in porch, revisit the indulgent, forget-the-world experience of taking a long, relaxing nap in the middle of the day.
Have a treat yourself day by watching your favorite movie, reading your favorite book, or by having your favorite food or drink. You can adopt the hygge lifestyle for a day by enjoying the simple pleasures and taking life easy for day.
GO ON A FOOD TOUR
One of my favorite things to do when I’m on a trip to a new place is to go on a food tour. It’s a great way to spend a few hours visiting restaurants and trying new food. I loved going on a lobster food tour in Portland Maine and a hot chicken food tour in Nashville, Tennessee. You can look online for tours that are going on in your area and for new restaurant openings. If you’re not up for a 3-hour food tour, try a different restaurant each day from a different area of the world — Korean, Caribbean, Indian, you name it. Do a search for the best place in your area for each cuisine, and then try it for yourself, whether it’s a well-known local fixture or a “best-kept secret” hole-in-the-wall.
HAVE A MOVIE NIGHT
I am lucky enough to have the oldest drive-in movie theater in America, 15 minutes from where I live. They always play 2 movies a night so you can pay $10.00 to see two films, it’s a good deal if you can stay up until 1 am watching them. I go there at least once a summer to see a movie. You can sit in your car and watch the movie but what a lot of people do is take lawn chairs and blankets and set up in front of their cars. It’s fun because you can bring you dinner into the area, their a soda and candy stand and you can sit back and enjoy the film.
If you don’t have a drive-in near you, you can set up a projection screen (bed sheet) in your backyard, roast some marshmallows and set up a lot of blankets and pillows. You can also have a Netflix marathon from the comfort of your couch. Try something different for a change, like a cheesy horror flick or one of those all-time classics you’ve still never seen. Don’t forget the popcorn and candy!
GO ON A BIKE RIDE OR HIKE
I own a bike but I don’t ride it that often. I think I rode it once last year even though theirs a park right across from me with great biking paths. Don’t be like me, get out there and ride your bike all around town if you can. Do a quick search to see if there are bike trails around you or parks that allow them. If walking is more your style, try going for a hike. If it’s during the summertime, try finding paths that lead to lakes or waterfalls. In the fall you can take a hike through beautiful color-changing trees and breath in the crisp air of autumn. The combination of fresh air, nature, and exercise will be invigorating and relaxing at the same time.