A staycation’s a joyful occasion. Sometimes we don’t have the potential to get away on holiday. It could be that the travel fund isn’t full, or that we have home-based responsibilities. But a staycation can bring lots of good vibes and plenty of the feelgood factor into your life. So, following some prolonged research here, I have my favourite travel hacks to create your best staycation ever.
Researching The Perfect Staycation
This month, I needed to be at home for a variety of reasons, some professional, some personal. I’d also committed to writing a travel piece every day for the month, and I was starting to wonder exactly how that was going to happen. Sure, I had a backlog of trips, but I wanted to balance that out with fresh material too. Then the idea evolved of taking a staycation.
I’m lucky in where I live. Within a couple of hours I have a whole host of different towns and cities (even London) to explore, plus some stunningly beautiful countryside that includes a national park. Add an hour, and I can make it to the coast. So out of that came my staycation plan. In putting it together and taking the staycation, this is what I learned.
Clear The Decks Before Your Staycation
Much as you would when going on vacation, it’s important to clear things up before you can chill into your staycation. Although you won’t need to make arrangements for someone to water your plants and pick up your post, there’s plenty that can disturb your staycation frame of mind if it’s not addressed. So
- get the house to a basic state of tidiness you can live with
- get the cupboards stocked with easy meals, or the makings of something special (of which more later)
- deal with any pressing issues in your working or personal life
- tell people you’re on holiday, so they’re aware you may not be available as much
What do you have available to spend on your staycation? I’ve got all kinds of suggestions here from luxury to freebies, so any budget is feasible. If you’re stuck to think of what to do, I have these suggestions:
- Get out a paper map, and pencil out a rough circle covering the area you’re prepared to travel within. Check the map scale for a rough idea of distance. You might be surprised what could make a good day trip.
- Think in different directions. If you’re like us, you might always tend to gravitate along a certain road. What’s in the opposite direction?
- Get looking online. Find the tourist information centres for nearby places. Check out what they have to recommend, and make a shortlist.
- If you’ve been keeping a mental list of things you’d like to try, now’s the time to dredge it out. Whether it’s learning pottery, taking on a climbing wall or getting out on the water in a boat, remember what interested you, and bring that to the table.
With those things in mind, here are my suggestions to fill your staycation with great experiences, relaxation, adrenaline surges and pleasures.
One of the reasons I find holidays so relaxing is that we always get lots of outdoor time. Whether it’s the endorphins generated by exercise, or just really fresh air reaching my lungs, I sleep like a baby after a day out and about. There are all kinds of options to choose from when it comes to being outdoors.
This month, I’ve been out on the water. We live near canals and rivers, so walking towpaths and footpaths is a favourite weekend pastime. But for a staycation, it’s good to change it up a little. Our local lake has kayaks and you can also hire a small boat at the water park and the reservoir.
Then there’s the pleasure of a good walk somewhere new. Our nearest National Trust properties have free leaflets on local walks, with routes covering an afternoon or a full day. Or just look online for recommendations for local rambles.
Pack a picnic. Eating outdoors can be a real celebration, and it makes an occasion of a day’s exploration. Add something warming while the weather’s still a bit bracing. Or if your time is limited, you could always bring afternoon tea instead, and enjoy that after a couple of hours treading new ground.
Don’t forget the big beasts of the outdoors too. We’ve been off exploring the Shropshire Hills, an area of outstanding natural beauty. There’s the Malverns too, and the Peak District nearby. You should be able to think of your equivalent. Do some investigation beforehand, and decide how you’d like to spend your time away.
Every town and city has something different to offer when you look at it through staycation eyes. Take Coventry, a city I’ve seldom visited, although it’s only half an hour away. And how wrong I was not to have spent time there before. From plenty of history to the wonderful ska museum and a whole lot of funky shopping and dining at Fargo Village, I can’t believe I never explored it before.
So look at your nearby towns and cities afresh through the eyes of a visitor. Pop into the visitor centre and ask questions. You’ll be amazed what there is to do. From free festivals to walking tours, and cookery demonstrations to free gigs, you may not know until you look or ask.
Try Something Different
Although I’d like to think I’ve got a reasonable eye for colour, art was never my thing. In fact, it was suggested politely that I gave it up at school. But my staycation had me painting my own pottery at the Emma Bridgewater factory in Stoke-on-Trent. And I had a brilliant time.
So much as I’ve suggested you head in a different direction for your staycation, try a mental change of direction too. After all, it’s only a day if you hate it. And if you love it, well, you’ve got something new to add to your weekend list at home.
Staycationize Your Vacation Favourites
So you have things you like to do on holiday. Now’s the time to turn them into your staycation pleasures too. You could
- book a spa treatment, or if cash is tight, see if a local college offers sessions from their trainees
- load up your e-reader for a holiday word feast, and take yourself somewhere pleasant to enjoy it
- camp out in your own garden, or even make a lounging area full of cushions and canopies to enjoy a welcome day of sunshine
- camp out overnight elsewhere, if wild camping is permitted where you live
- create your own film festival
- create a dining experience that brings the world to you through a special meal out or a feast from your own kitchen
- book a tour to see somewhere local through someone else’s eyes
- go on a walking tour in your own town
- book an overnight stay somewhere really close by, just to see life differently. If you live in a cosy cottage, try modern urban living. Or take a room in a Georgian farmhouse.
- go into the local attraction you always walk past
- try a sport you only participate in on holiday. Even if that’s taking a frisbee to the park
- or go to a sporting event
- visit your local botanical gardens for a taste of Eden
- go fruit picking, or drive out to a farm shop or farmers’ market
- take a local boat trip
Whatever you decide to do, have a great time. My staycation this month has been absolutely incredible. I’ve done things I never imagined I would, seen places with new eyes, and learned a whole lot about the beauty that surrounds me.
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