How does that old song go? Summertime and the livin’s easy…bring it on. Affording a vacation without the “ching-ching”, though…not always that easy. My husband Scott and I try to live simply and (mostly) within our means. We bought our house 10 years ago, and just as the ink was drying on the contract, Hurricane Katrina visited down south. Suddenly the cost of heating our little dream and commuting to work gave our budget an unflattering haircut. A few years later, the economy tanked, and we had company. Staycation was born.
Staycation. All the relaxation and fun you choose, without traffic, flight delays or expensive hotel rooms. A chance to explore your own backyard, and your own community. What are you in the mood for, or craving? Relaxation, family bonding and fun, a romantic getaway?
Mix and match and make it happen. Take a few notes, set a budget to work with, and watch your staycation take shape.
If relaxation and self-care is what you need, then make sure you allow yourself to sleep as long as you wish and plan any activities for a late start. If you have a hammock in your backyard, this is what it was made for and I’ll bet it doesn’t cradle you half as much as it would love to. If you don’t, and you have the budget and space, consider it an investment in relaxation you can visit any time you like. Schedule massages or a special spa treatment if you can afford it, or recreate it at home by trading massages with your significant other, taking a sensuous bath scented with essential oils, and slathering green clay and cucumbers on your face while sipping a refreshing beverage. Pick a tranquil, quiet place to walk, take in the view, sit, and meditate. Make like a hound and lounge. You earned it.
Family fun week conjures images of amusement parks, the beach or lake, and backyard games for me. A great day hike will get you lots of fresh air and natural beauty, and all but guarantees everyone will sleep well. Pitch a tent in your backyard, build a fire, make s’mores and tell ghost stories. Check out your local museums, festivals, fairs and sports teams. Set up a slip and slide! Go to a local park, beach or lake with a picnic lunch and a Frisbee. Do a movie night (or day if it’s raining). Pick out an art or craft project.
How about that romantic getaway? Set the backdrop with fresh flowers, decadent foods, and champagne. Have a fancy dinner out. Set your table with linen and china if you’re dining in. Schedule a couple’s massage. Take a long drive and stop to explore whatever tickles your fancy. Go to a concert or museum. Have leisurely coffee and croissants on your patio. Stargaze together. Dance in your backyard barefoot. Remember and talk about when you met and all the things, great and challenging, you’ve weathered together. Gaze into one another’s eyes, and whisper some sweet nothings.
Once you have decided your staycation “theme” and some activities, take some time to get prepared. You wouldn’t want to check into a hotel room with dirty dishes, piles of laundry, and a crusty bathroom, would you? Not so much. Sparkle up your house so it’s ready to receive and support you staycationers. And as much as it’s possible, while you’re on staycation, leave the mundane chores for when you “come home”. Staycation is vacation, after all. Give yourselves permission to take the break. Again, you earned it!
As part of your prep, make any reservations that may be required. Go grocery shopping. If you have a family, ask for their input (and then use your judgement). Fill your fridge with fresh, delicious food and beverages. As my household’s primary cook, I can tell you that a vacation for me includes a vacation from cooking, within reason. Again, a little prep goes a long way. Make some items that can be picked on over the course of a few days or a week. Green salad, fruit salad, pasta salad, potato salad. Get that salad theme there? I also recommend a “mixed grill” of meats and/or veggies to last a few days. I’ll do several kinds of meat, in different marinades or rubs. Have some hot off the grill for dinner, and then whenever you want, you have some delicious grilled goodness in your fridge to go with your salads, into a sandwich or quick and easy quesadillas. Hard boil some eggs, cut up some veggies to go with hummus, and brew some iced tea. Don’t forget the ice. Or the sunblock. Put out some fresh flowers…who cares if they’re dandelions? Get out some balls, Frisbees, and lawn games. We once set up a cheap badminton set we bought on a whim at a party and wouldn’t you know it that was the most popular thing ever.
Now it’s time for your staycation to begin. When you walk through the door, shout and celebrate! Whoo-hoo! We made it and we’re on vacation! Have a happy hour; and when I say that, know that doesn’t require alcohol. Everyone can celebrate with a glass of lemonade or fruit infused water and some veggie sticks before dinner. Maybe this is the night you cook your mixed grill, and make salads as a family. Put your work bag in the closet, write “Gone Fishing’” on the chalkboard (or make it your voice mail message), and get on with doing what you do.
Here are the bones of your amazing staycation:
Pick a theme. What’s your need or desire for your staycation?Set a budget.Now with your budget, choose your activities. Try to pick at least one new thing and explore your community.Prepare. House clean, laundry done. Schedule reservations, buy advance tickets, get out the play stuff, and plan/prep your foods.Celebrate the moment you get through the door. “Happy hour”, put your work bag out of sight, and set your voice message to “Gone Fishing’”.
I hope you have a great time creating and enjoying a conscious staycation that gives you everything you need and want in a vacation. We all work hard every day, and we all need to relax and decompress on a regular basis. Get on with enjoying every moment you create this summer!