I’m guessing a lot of you have some vacation days stored up that have built up during this pandemic, and maybe even getting some pressure to take them sooner rather than later. Perhaps your international travel plans got cancelled this year, leaving you feeling disappointed and depressed. Your first thought might be, “oh great I have to take holiday in the middle of a restrictive pandemic” or “I’m stuck here and can’t go anywhere”. These thoughts can feel discouraging and limiting, as if your world has been made smaller and you’re caged in. But what if – like so much during this strange time – there was an opportunity here …
I’m going to give you some options to think about that hopefully leave you feeling excited about the vacation time you are going to create for yourself.
Have you heard of a staycation? A staycation (a portmanteau of "stay" and "vacation"), or holistay (a portmanteau of "holiday" and "stay"), is a period in which an individual or family stays home and participates in leisure activities within driving distance of their home and does not require overnight accommodation.
When I was 16, I caught the travel bug and to this day I’m still infected. Consequently, one of my passions and absolute favourite things to do is travel. The idea of a staycation seemed boring to me, like a missed opportunity. However, when I recently researched into options and really thought about it further, there are actually many benefits that I had overlooked!
Benefits of a staycation:
- Saving Money – I’ll start by stating the obvious. Yes, having a staycation can save you thousands. If you have been laid off or had a pay cut due to the COVID-19 pandemic this might be very appealing. Though even if for you it has been business as usual, who doesn’t like saving money?
- Saving Time – with no travel time you can start the fun and relaxation right away. Have you ever taken a one week or even two-week holiday and found by the time you got to your destination did a few things and travelled back your holiday was over in a blink? We lose two days of travel just in getting to our destination and back home again. Two days also isn’t including the day trips or visits to close by towns or sights in the destination country. All this travel can bleed through our precious holiday time. When taking a staycation, you can start your holiday immediately. Oh and no jetlag!!!
- More rest and relaxation – traveling is lots of fun but often is not restorative. You have all heard the saying “I need a holiday from my holiday”. Most of us in today’s busy world could actually really use some actual holidays to recharge. Getting some regular sleeps, slowing down and taking time for yourself can have great benefits. Imagine starting back to work feeling rested, relaxed and ready!
- Easier to plan – regular holidays can involve a lot of work planning transportation, sightseeing, packing, vaccines, excursions, reservations etc. Way less so for a staycation, where if you do visit local places you can adapt to changing ideas or situations quickly as you are a stone’s throw from home. There will also be no language barrier that leaves you getting the wrong end of the stick or communication through charades. There is a good chance that in your neighbourhood, right under your nose, there are some gems waiting to be discovered and will save you plenty of time and stress trying to organize a visit to.
- Support the local economy – the pandemic has affected your local businesses, many of them have already closed or are on the verge of bankruptcy. Many of these businesses relied on tourism to bring them some if not all of their revenue. Some of these workers could be your friends or neighbours. How great would it feel to support some of these businesses?
- Save the Environment! – One of the biggest polluters is transportation, especially long-distance air travel and driving. Staying near home and getting out of your car and walking to local tractions, can go a long way to helping your local environment, and contributing globally!
- Know your Community – ever live somewhere for years and realize that you’ve no idea what lies in the next valley or never climbed the local hill? Visiting locally, for example, local walks, cycling, short car trips, visiting farms, farmer’s markets, craft fairs, animal sanctuaries (within reason given pandemic restrictions), can really connect you with your local community, environment, and the people and animals that dwell there. Overall this might give you a real sense of appreciation of the place you call home.
I don’t know about you but these seem to me like all great reasons to stay close to home – pandemic or not – that I had never thought of. I recommend creating a list of things you can do near home. Plan some things like you would a vacation and maybe leave some time for spontaneity.
Here are some ideas to get you going:
Visit local museum
Visit local farm and go berry picking
Try a new restaurant
Go to your favourite restaurant
Visit a farmer’s market
Try making a new fancy meal at home
Trying making a meal from a different country
Backyard camping (no outhouse!!)
Picnic at a new park
Craft beer tasting
Visit a winery
Read at a café or park
Try a new café
Visit a local spa - book a massage, mani/pedi or facial
Get out in nature – hiking, biking, kayaking
Learn something new – take an online course in music or language, or use your staycation to take a day course in a new skill
Be creative: draw, paint, write or play music
Make a photo book
Make your garden beautiful
Build a garden box or plant a herb garden
Plan some competitive family games in your garden (badminton, bocci, croquet, soccer etc.)
Hire a cleaning service for your house
Remember you are on vacation so set boundaries with household duties and work emails. If you have to answer emails set aside a designated time and then put the work away for the rest of your day. Decide when you are starting your vacation and when you are finishing.
It is common for many of us to explore and visit places far away and exotic without having really explored our own backyard. National and international travel will start again. But in the meantime, why not take this as an opportunity to do something different, explore the place you call home and get to know it better. Take care of yourself in a different way this holiday. I’m already excited for my staycation!!