chilling in a parkThere always seems to be a new term entering the travel lexicon- traveler, tourist, flashpacker, voluntourism, and staycation. Everyone always likes to define something. Then again, I guess giving it a name means you can feel like you know it. The latest word that seems to be catching on is “staycation”. O.K., the word has been around for a while but when friends on Facebook tell me they are taking a staycation, I know the word has gone mainstream.

A staycation is officially defined by me as staying home while taking time off from work in lieu of going overseas or to some different locality.

There are many travel words I am a fan of but staycation is not one of them. It’s a way for people to convince themselves they are doing something when they are really just staying home from work. A little mental maneuver to convince them they are on holiday. A holiday (vacation) is when you leave the comfort of your house and go somewhere. It doesn’t need to be some place far and your trip doesn’t need to last a long time. You can go on vacation to Europe or the next town over for two days. Take a weekend out in the woods. All you need to do is something different than your normal routine. Staying home from work for a week is not a vacation- it’s staying home from work for a week. Moreover, staying home might tempt you to check your work e-mail or fall into stressful habits that don’t let you get one of the great benefits of a vacation- time to relax.

hanging out on a staycationYet since a vacation is so prized by people, people have named this staying home activity as something special. However, if you are that intent on having a staycation, there are a number of things you can do while staying home:

Volunteer. Break out of the norm and go help others with your time. There are many people who need help right now.

Learn a new skill. Take a cooking class, learn yoga, or learn how to build desks. Learn how to build a travel blog. A vacation doesn’t have to be about going somewhere. You can learn something new. If you are going to stay home, then stay home and do something.

Take a roadtrip. If you have a lot of time off work, you should go out and do something. Remember travel doesn’t have to be to some exotic place – it can happen right in your own hometown. Go take a few days to explore your area. Learning something new about your home can be just as good as getting on a plane to go somewhere.

Set a goal. Try to do something different each day to keep things interesting. Why not make a game out of it? Promise yourself each day to try one new type of ethnic food, or see a movie from a different country, or visit one new part of town. Travel is about experiencing new things and trying something different. Doing it home still captures that essence.

Travel is more than moving from place to place. It’s about doing different activities outside your normal comfort zone. So if you are really going to stay home, move out of your mental comfort zone and travel to new ideas. It’s better than sitting on the coach for a week and watching American Idol. So please, avoid the staycation.

  1. I agree with you that “Staycation” is an extremely annoying as a phrase and slightly as a concept. But, great way to turn it around and give some useful ideas of what to do.

  2. Monna

    Great post, Matt! I believe that the term “staycation” was coined by Canadian comedian Brent Butt. His television series is called Corner Gas. Hilarious… especially if you are Canadian.

  3. There definitely seems to be a difference in the way British English speakers and Americans use “holiday”. If I (as a kiwi) said, “I’m going on holiday next week” it would imply a vacation (travel during time off work); but if I said, “I’m on holiday next week” it implies time off work, but not necessarily travel. Why do the American media have to bastardise language? We have the communicative resources already available in the lexicon.

    By all means, have a holiday, take time off work, chill out, but for the good of us all, don’t take a staycation!

  4. Here are a few other suggestions for making your “staycation” (cringe) a little more like a holiday:

    1) Host a traveler through something like Couchsurfing or Hospitality Exchange. If you are in the company of somebody for whom your home town is new, their travel excitement will be pervasive throughout the household. Not only that, but when you see your home turf through new eyes (ie: the traveler’s), you will sometimes see a whole different place.

    2) Even if you are not showing a traveler all that your town has to show, try being a tourist yourself! Get the travel brochures for your area, and do some of the touristy things that you either never did, or haven’t done since you were a kid. It’s amazing what you will discover in your own backyard.

  5. That’s it! I’m building a desk.

    In all seriousness, these ideas are great and perfect timing for me because my vacation days don’t roll over and when I don’t have a plane ticket I don’t think to take days off. I am about to lose 5 if I don’t take them before May, but I have been waiting until I can find something exciting to do with them.

  6. NomadicMatt

    @monna: great to see you again! thanks for the trivia info!

    @elizabeth: I get annoyed this thinking about the word staycation

    @craig: American English is the best english!

    @nora: great tips

    @susan: do anything but a staycation!

    @wonderwilm: great tips! thanks!

    @nik: That is a staycation i could really get behind. great idea

  7. Wonderwilm

    If you’ve no money, you can always get your bike out and plan some ‘local’ trip. I bet everyone has lots of places / things they’ve never really seen properly because they were in cars. Great way to get fit too.

  8. I do cringe at the word. I can’t even repeat it here because it IS so overused by USA Today-reading mainstream.

    The only trips I’ve curbed are ones to see my family and business trips :-) Seriously. I chose not to go home for the holidays because flights were ridiculously expensive and opted out of a biz trip basically because the host suggested (to all of the attendees) that the money was better spent elsewhere. I happily agreed.

    So, I’m off to Thailand and Bhutan next month! (OK, that is also business but it will be plenty fun, too.)

    Depending on how high of a priority it is on your list, most people can easily save on every day items and tuck that money away for a trip – especially since airfares seem to be falling.

  9. Matt, I agree, staying at home for your precious holiday could lead to far too much in the way of house-work, sales calls, emails and general stress.

    I’ve actually heard this term used a lot in the press lately in relation to UK-based holidays. Instead of booking a fortnight abroad, cash-strapped Brits are looking closer to home for a bargain break.

    I regularly contribute to the Auto Europe blog, and I often write posts on the best places to visit in the UK, including one recently about romantic breaks.

  10. Good post Matt. But I’m actually a fan of the word staycation. To me, it means taking time off work to do something in your own hometown, like checking into a fancy hotel close to home (just for the experience, not because you need a place to sleep, which I think is a great idea). The media can overuse the word as much as they want. I don’t mind.

  11. Interesting topic. I am not such a big fan of taking time off work just to stay at home. If I’m going to stay at home, I’d like to be doing something good with my time.

    Why not invite some travelers over to my house. With you can invite travelers over and take your “staycation” to accommodate to your guests needs.

    When you have guests over it’s kind of like seeing your own town from new eyes again. You look at everything different than you would everyday because you have stories to tell and things to share.

    So if you can’t afford to travel, but you need some time away from work, have the best of both worlds, and invite some travelers to stay with you and recharge your spirits.

  12. Agreed. And may I suggest national and state parks as excellent options for nearby, inexpensive vacations? Break that routine by taking in the beauty of the U.S.!

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