Have you ever returned from a vacation exhausted, feeling like you need…another vacation?
That’s one reason why staycations, or mini vacations at home, are more popular than ever. Google Trends shows there have been 75 million searches for staycations so far in 2018. That’s three times more than in 2013.
Another reason staycations are popular is because it’s expensive to go away. In a 2018 Bankrate survey, 24% of people said they couldn’t afford to travel. One study says the average week-long vacation costs a family of four about $4,600.
To save money, relax and re-energize, try a vacation at home.
For the perfect staycation, act as if you’re really getting out of town
If you don’t plan it right, your time off at home will be wasted cooking, cleaning and working. You know, the stuff you do every single day. Before you start your staycation, set some guidelines and do some planning.
Just like you would during a real vacation, plan to tune out the world. Agree to not take work calls, write emails, or set alarm clocks. Fill your freezer and pantry with plenty of food and snacks for the week. Do your laundry in advance.
Consider creating a theme for the vacation and decorating your home
Beach theme: Create a music play list of the Beach Boys, Jimmy Buffet and island tunes, along with paper palm trees, leis, Hawaiian shirts and a canopy.
Mountain trip: Consider songs by John Denver and James Taylor, with pine cones, tree logs, a tent in the backyard, and barbeque.
Pretend you’re in Paris or Spain: Post signs in foreign languages, play trendy music, create fake passports, and plan out exotic meals from the regions.
Remember to do your research in advance and make reservations for day trips, dinners, and tours just like you would if you were going out of town. OK, ready to…stay? Here are 20 staycation ideas:
- Be a tourist in your hometown or state: There are likely some amazing sites which you’ve probably never taken the time to see. Go to your state’s visitor’s bureau website and go on adventures that are within a couple of hours drive.
- Explore history: Spend time strolling through local museums, natural history spots, and historical landmarks.
- Open a state map, close your eyes, and pick a spot: Explore your town! Eat pie in the local café. Get to know the people there by taking a tour through a local landmark such as a gold mine, winery, farm (and buy fresh fruits and vegetables), factory or lumber yard.
- Get outdoors: So many activities available! You can try zip-lining, hiking, picnicking, boating, kayaking, fishing, bike riding, roller skating, golfing or mini-golfing, go-kart racing or even fly a kite. For older adults, look for places that rent electric bikes and Segways. Make sure you check Groupons, Living Social and other sites for coupons and discounts.
- Rent a convertible: Need we say more? The whole family will love it.
- Pamper yourselves: Book a spa day at a local salon or make up your own home treatments with special massage oils, foot scrubs, facials masks, bubble baths and lavender lotions. Take turns giving each other foot and back massages. You could also schedule a massage therapist to come to your home.
- Hole up in a hotel: For one night, find and stay in a local trendy boutique hotel or one that boasts a water park inside! Hotels will often offer residents local rates if you ask in advance.
- Camp out in your backyard: Set up tents, grab the camping gear and make s’mores. No backyard? No problem. Hang blankets on your deck for privacy and lay out sleeping bags (and the dogs!). Bring lanterns, snacks and plan to tell ghost stories. Download the Night Sky app to find the stars and planets.
- Game night: Get serious with your games by inviting friends and neighbors over and keeping score. Maybe offer a gift card at a popular store for the prize. Try Charades, HedBanz, Trivial Pursuit and other fun interactive games. You can play outside, too, with horseshoes, cornhole, lawn bowling, and Frisbee golf.
- Read a book: When was the last time you relaxed in a hammock, sipped some tea and read your favorite book? Have everyone in the family read something fun, then share what you read later with a storytelling session. If you’ve chosen a theme for your staycation, read books that match the them and then share with your family. You could also browse local book stores and spend time going through the shelves at the library.
- Go out to dinner: But try someplace new. Forget about your old standbys and check out a place you’ve always wanted to try or one that’s just opened in town.
- Dance like no one’s watching: Move the furniture out of your living room, turn down the lights and blast your favorite tunes like a disco. Encourage everyone to dress up and let go! Have dance contests and give a prize to the winners.
- Stretch it out: Have everyone grab a yoga mat, put on comfortable clothes and follow along to a yoga video. Burn scented candles and have flavored water.
- Check out local events: Visit the art fairs, zoo, music festivals, rodeos, concerts and sporting events happening in your area. Find the events at your local chambers of commerce.
- Go on a treasure hunt: Geocaching is a real world outdoor treasure hunting game that use GPS enabled devices.
- Scream!: Visit a local amusement park and go on all the rides that scare you. If it’s fall break and near Halloween, visit haunted houses!
- Visit a park: Explore a national park and take pictures of the wonders inside. Look for new ecosystems, animals and habitats.
- Get wet: Get out the water balloons, the Super Soakers and water slides for backyard fun. Or hit the local pools at recreation centers.
- Indulge: Visit local dessert spots – whether a bakery, cupcake place or a chocolatier and have a “sweet treat feast”!
- Say “Cheese”: You’d never come home from the Bahamas without a few pictures, so be sure to take images of your family enjoying their staycation along the way. Create some laughs and wonderful memories.
Your staycation can be just as fun and memorable as any vacation out there and enable you to really enjoy and get to know your hometown. Better yet, everyone will return to work or school well-rested — and with money still in the bank.
Shannon Wilburn is the CEO & Co-founder of Just Between Friends Franchise Systems, Inc. (JBF), North America’s leading children’s & maternity consignment event. JBF has more than 150 franchises in 30 states and Canada. Click here to learn more.