Every year I hear and see people posting about their “staycations” and how awesome it’s gonna be, and the next thing I know I meet them for coffee and they’re complaining to me about how they didn’t get a real break this year. I get it. I’ve been there.
Staycations don’t always work out. Possibly because they are not as organized as a vacation with travel plans. With no planes to catch and reservations to be on time for, it’s easy to roll off track.
It goes like this: You start off with the best of intentions and lists of activities in hand. There’s snow on the mountains and that museuem exhibit in LA. But there’s no rush. You’re not going anywhere. You should all sleep in. .. Three days later you’re knee-deep in laundry, dirty dishes and faced with bickering zombie-eyed kids in need of a shower that only want to lay on the couch and watch Scooby Doo. Plus someone has a cold. Nobody wants to budge. So you do the sensible thing: clean out your closets and get chores done while the rest of the family veg. Some staycation!
This year we’re going to try something new. We’re not going anywhere for break and we have the luxury of time off without needing to be somewhere or doing something. We have a couple of weeks that are ripe for the designation of “Staycation Time” and if we play our cards right, we might actually enjoy that time, without organizing our closets. But first we have to organize ourselves.
To help ensure that our break doesn’t roll off track, I’ve established a set of Staycation Rules.
Staycation Rules 1 of 11
Cultural Rules 2 of 11
At some point before the staycation, buy tickets to local museums, shows and exhibits. Consider the stuff you would want to see if you were a tourist in your town. You know how you never do that stuff unless someone is visiting from out of town? Do it now. Make your plans before the staycation, as you would before a vacation. Nobody wants to waste half a day of their precious vacation finally figuring out what to do and when to do it and where to park.
Memory-Making Rules 3 of 11
Don't you love looking at all the family vacation photos? And sending postcards to your friends and family sharing your adventures? Well just because you are on staycation doesn't mean you shouldn't snap and write away. Take plenty of photos of all the fun you are having out and about on your staycation.
Dining Rules 4 of 11
Look, I know it is tempting to eat in and save a few bucks when you staycation but half the fun of a vacation is not having to make (and clean up) meals. So I suggest at the VERY LEAST you order takeout and eat it on paper plates. Stock up on cereal and pastries and whatever other convenience food is your go-to on vacation. Unless you are the sort that lives for a baking binge while on holiday, I grant you permission to hit the drive-thru while you are on staycation.
Slothfullness Rules 5 of 11
Dude. I know how tempting it is to spend entire days in your pajamas, clutching a half read novel and immersing yourself in full seasons of Breaking Bad or Downton Abbey (or both, I can never choose). But this is not going to leave you feeling relaxed and recharged. It's going to leave you sluggish and bleary eyed.
So what I propose is this: Sleep in a little and then get out there and DO STUFF. Every day. Fun stuff, new stuff, silly stuff. Leave a day or two to recover after your staycation (like you would after a vacation) to do laundry, pay bills, and get your house back in order. If you want to do all that in your pajamas while watching TV, I won't judge you.
Adventure Rules 6 of 11
Shake it up a little, won't you? Order dishes that aren't on the menu. Try that place you never eat at. Go to a matinee. Be a stranger, at home.
Laundry Rules 7 of 11
This is a big BIG rule. I don't care if it's only twenty minutes of errands/work/laundry/checking email. Don't do it. These things are a pox upon your staycation. Even if you really really enjoy sorting through your kid's outgrown clothes and organizing their sock drawer (I know, weirdo, me too!) this stuff is work and it can wait. Spending time with your family is more important. When this urge strikes, start up a game of Spoons, go for a walk, or challenge someone to a staring contest. I'm so determined to avoid falling into this trap that I've considered packing bags for our staycation, and pretending that we don't own any other clothes.
Please share any and all other strategies for not working while on Staycation with me in the comments!
Fresh Air Rules 8 of 11
Don't spend your whole staycation staying inside. Go for a walk, even if it is a short one. Take in the landscape, the season, the clouds and the sky. Be where you are.
Daytrip Rules 9 of 11
We are always, always rushing hither and yon in our daily lives. We calculate the route that is most direct with the least traffic. But it's rarely the most scenic. Now is the time to drive by the houses with the awesome Christmas lights, take a spin past the beach and catch the view of snow on the mountaintops.
Frivolity Rules 10 of 11
Go ahead and get two scoops of ice cream and buy yourself a silly hat. Staycations are just as worthy of souveniring and frivolity as regular vacations. Perhaps even more so as you are spending less by not traveling as far. If you have the means, check on local hotel rates. Springing for a night at a local hotel is one of the sweetest staycation pleasures. You can really have it all.
Social Media Rules 11 of 11
Unless social media is normally a forbidden pleasure, it's probably best to give it a rest while you relax and recharge during a staycation. Consider reading a book by a crackling fire. It's easy to get sucked into social media and while you are there, you are not "away from it all." Save it for later.