Being a local to Chicago makes me one of the luckiest people when it comes to a staycation. Instead of airfare, I pay a round-trip price of $16 to get to and from the city and can plan a trip around hotel prices. Plus, the location can’t be beat. Even New Yorkers get out of their city when they take a staycation. I mean, that’s why the Hamptons exist, right? When I’m desperate to get away but don’t have the time or bandwidth to plan an actual trip, I’ll open Hotel Tonight or check a few of my favorite hotels in the city to see where I can find the best price…Read More
Vacations cost two things: money and time. Two things that many people can't afford to waste. So, how do you get the effects of a vacation without forking out the money to actually go on one? Easy! Take a staycation. Now, if you want to go the extra mile and spend a few dollars, you can easily take a trip to the nearest city or cute little B&B and get out of the house for a weekend. But for those of us who might be strapped on cash for a bit, these ideas will give you that post-vacation glow. Even better? Because there's no actual travel involved, you get to avoid the stress as well.
Let's start with some basic tips to get the staycation started off right:
1. Unplug. If you're relaxing on the white sands of Tahiti, do you have your phone out for anything but to Instagram the heavenly view? No. Take a note from your paid vacation self and chuck the technology. Unless it's for a movie night, let go of the TV, computer, phone, tablets, etc. You get the picture.
2. Create an oasis. I just wrote a post on how to make your bedroom an escape. Take it a step further and make the entire house an oasis. If it's absolutely necessary, keep one room (preferably the office) normal in case duty calls on the weekend.
3. Allow yourself to relax. Don't fall into the temptation to work if you don't really have to. Plan this staycation like you would any other vacation. Schedule activities, plan to catch up on reading or just do absolutely nothing. This is your time to unwind and completely decompress.
Now for the actual staycation ideas. This is by no means a complete list so feel free to use it in your brainstorm to get things rolling.
For the Beach Lover: if you're dreaming of white sands and blue skies, you probably won't get the exact same results at home unless you live on a coast. However, you can still take certain elements and use them daily or just for your little at home getaway.
1. Find a playlist or buy a CD with ocean sounds. Play it softly in the background constantly to have that consistent calming presence. Waters sounds do more for stress relief than most people give them credit for.
2. Set up a hammock or beach area in the backyard. Lounge outside where the sun is the same as it is anywhere else in the world. This is obviously ideal for warmer months if you live in four-season climate.
3. Plan a light, sea-licious dinner. If you're just dying for those crab legs or lobster tail from that one place five years ago in Bali, recreate it to your best ability.
4. Light a few candles or scent warmers that have a beach-y scent. I personally love Pink Sands, Oceanside and Sun & Sand from Yankee Candle.
For the Adventure Seeker: if you're the type that likes to go on all kinds of thrill-seeking or interesting adventures on vacation, recreate the experience at home. It's probably much easier than creating a beach vacation to be honest.
1. Find a trail or path you haven't been on before and go for a hike or a bike ride. See if a friend wants to go with or just go at it alone. You never know what you'll find close to home if you don't give it a shot.
2. Research adventure sport activities like rock-climbing or bungee jumping. Depending on where you live, there will most likely be different things available but I'm sure there are several things you could find.
For the Cultural Enthusiast: if you love exploring different cultures and what places you visit on vacation have to offer from a historical or cultural standpoint, Give local or surrounding towns a chance. For example, I had no idea how many wineries and vineyards Illinois had within driving distance of me. You never know what's available in your own backyard if you don't look for it.
1. Find a winery or brewery within driving distance and schedule a dinner and tasting. Get a few friends while you're at it and make it a group activity.
2. Go to your town's downtown area and search out some of the historical landmarks. Most towns have them. See what you find. Who knows? There might be a significant story behind that building next to the library for all you know.
3. Go to a play or a concert. This will depend on where you live as well but I'm sure there is a theater or concert green for you to spend a Saturday night at. Besides, tickets are probably far cheaper than the Paris Ballet or the Sydney Opera House.
4. Host your own dinner. If you're feeling up to it, have a few friends over for a five-course meal you prepare yourself with a pairing involved.
For the Celebrity Spotter: if you pride yourself on your celebrity spotting skills in LA, Marseilles or the Amalfi Coast...first of all, pipe down a bit. These are normal people like anyone else and they need vacations too. Second of all, take a chill pill and let yourself actually relax on this staycation. If you just love Hollywood and celebrities, here are a few easy ideas.
1. Have a themed movie-thon. Pick a theme with three movies and just binge. You can do Hitchcock classics, 90s action movies, Nicholas Sparks dramas, etc. Invite the girls, pop some bubbly and indulge.
2. Go see a new movie. The last of summer blockbusters are coming out around this time so go treat yourself to the big screen.
3. Go to a concert. I don't know about anywhere else but right now we are having a ton of concerts almost every night in the Chicago area. Go see one of your favorite bands or venture out and see a new one.
For the one that just wants to relax: I hear you. Sometimes you just need to relax, regroup, de-stress and re-energize yourself. Get back to being zen with some of these tips...
1. Get a massage. Splurge the small amount of money compared to a real vacation and get your muscles workout out. Get rid of those knots and relieve the tension. Maybe schedule two even, plus a facial.
2. Unplug. No electronics for you, not even TV. Just the lighting from electronic devices can stress us out.
3. Get through that stack of magazines or read the book you've been trying to get to the last five months. Next thing you know, there goes the afternoon.
4. Go to yoga class. Skip the intense workout and do something that is healthy for your mind, body and soul. Take a beginner yoga class if you're a newbie or just go to one of your favorites if you're a regular.
5. Go outside. Get out of the house, take the dog for a walk. Being outside has the ability to reduce stress. Nature brings you back to center and by allowing yourself to naturally calm down and de-stress, you reprogram your brain and your body to decompress and let go of tension.
Have you taken a staycation before? Do you have any tips or advice to add?
1. Listen to ambient music - Put on a radio station or playlist with sounds of the beach. Lay back, relax and just be present. Whether it's the beach, rain forest, thunderstorms...sounds of nature calm the mind and give you that zen feeling that is essential for stress relief.
2. Light candles, dim the lights and turn your room into an oasis - Taking a vacation doesn't have to mean a thousand dollar spa day. Go to target, pick up a few candles that you love, dim or turn off the lights completely, just lay back and soak it in. If there's a scent that takes you back to childhood memories like baking cookies or cinnamon, buy a candle reminiscent of that. Anything to just get your mind of reality and completely relax.
3. Go for a nature walk - Studies have shown that getting out into nature for even just a few minutes each day can reduce stress and calm nerves. Think about what you do on vacation: go for a hike, walk on the beach. Take a leisurely walk without a destination in mind. Leave your phone at home to avoid distractions and let nature do its thing.
4. Find three new places within 45 minutes and try them out. Make a day trip out of it. - Exploring new places is not exclusive to vacations. Take a day trip with friends or your significant other one weekend. Look up a few places within a 45 minute driving distance, or more if you're feeling it, and just go. Leave your phones off and pretend you're somewhere exotic. You can have a great time and experience new things without a giant price tag.
5. Unplug - One of the main things so far has been turning off your phone. We're so attached to technology and always needing to be available that we sometimes forget that we need to just shut it off. For one weekend, turn off all technology. Don't even turn on the TV except for a movie night. No Netflix binges either. Go for a walk. Meet up with friends for lunch. Reconnect in person rather than through an impersonal text message. Forget about what's going on on Facebook.
6. Go to the farmer's market and cook up something out of your comfort zone - One of my favorite things to do when I travel is try the local food. I might complain about it a bit excessively at first but I always try new things. That's something simple you can replicate at home. Google a recipe from a destination that you are dying to visit. Go to your local farmer's market and cook it up. Make it a night with friends or just a dinner for two.
7. Meet friends for coffee or lunch - We are so focused on work and getting things done we sometimes lose sight of the things that are important: friends and family. When was the last time you called your best friend to see how she's doing? When was the last time you went to lunch with your mom? One of the worst things about social media and cell phones is that they disconnect us from each other and eliminate the human element that used to be so necessary in life. Reconnect without the digital landscape. Look someone in the eye as you give them advice or a compliment. Touch someone's hand as you offer sympathy. Hug your friend goodbye. Get a little more personal and open yourself up. You'd be surprised what that can do for you.
8. Just drive - Roadtrips are considered vacations so why not take a little one of your own. Take a drive without a destination in mind and just go for a few hours. See what you find. Venture into small towns. If you don't pass any, at least you'll clear your head a bit. What do you have to lose? A tank of gas?