Updated: 02/22/19 | February 22nd, 2019
There always seems to be a new term entering the travel lexicon: traveler, tourist, flashpacker, voluntourism…the list goes on.
And I get it.
People always like to define something (especially fellow travelers). I guess giving something a name means you feel like you understand it. And the latest word that seems to be catching on is “staycation”.
Okay, the word has been around for a while but when my friends on Facebook tell me they are taking a “staycation,” that’s when 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.
But a holiday (vacation) is when you leave the comfort of your house and go somewhere. It doesn’t need to be someplace 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!
Yet since a vacation is so prized by people, people have designated this stay-at-home activity as something special. You already know how I feel, but if you are intent on having a “staycation,” there are a number of things you can do to mix things up while staying at home:
1. Volunteer – Break out of the norm and go help others with your time. There are many people who need help right now — including people in your own community. Responsible volunteering is a great way to connect with people from different backgrounds and experiences while giving back to your community.
Not sure where to start? Begin with your interests. What do you like to do? Is there some way you can incorporate that into your volunteering. For example, if you enjoy playing chess or art or sports you can try volunteering at an after-school program. If you enjoy running or outdoor activities, see if there is a group that does park or trail maintenance/litter cleanups. Food banks are another common place that almost always needs volunteer help, and there is one in every community.
There is no shortage of people and organizations that need help. All you need to do is take that first step!
2. 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 at home, then stay home and do something.
A great place to start is to check platforms like meetup.com or Couchsurfing for events, workshops, or local clubs. See if there is anything offered that sounds interesting and then just dive in!
3. 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 hometown can be just as good as getting on a plane to go somewhere.
Want to make it even more exciting? Find some other travelers to join you! Meeting and traveling with complete strangers is par for the course when you’re backpacking. Why not try doing the same at home. Use Couchsurfing or online travel groups like The Nomadic Network to find people in your area who want to do an impromptu road trip. It’s a great way to add some excitement to your trip and make it much more interesting. Plus, you can split the cost to save yourself some money. Double win!
4. 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 a great personal development tool. It’s about experiencing new things and trying something different. Doing it home still captures that essence.
To keep yourself engaged and on track, share your experiences on social media. Make a video of yourself trying the new foods or exploring your town. Get your friends and family involved by taking suggestions from them. The more postive and engaged you can make your experiences, the more likely it is that you’ll stick with it and enjoy it.
5. Don’t stay in your house – In order to break your routine, be sure to find another place to stay. Staying at home will just have you falling into old routines, which isn’t what we want to do! We’re trying to get out and embrace something new and make the most of our free time. Skip the Netflix and get out of your house. Find a local Airbnb or even a hostel. Do something out of the ordinary. That will help you get a new perspective and make your trip feel much more authentic and refreshing.
If you’re going to be away for a few days, consider putting your house or apartment up for rent on Airbnb. That way you can make a little money on the side to fund your trip while also forcing yourself to get out of the house and into a new adventure!
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 couch for a week and watching “American Idol.” Just, please, avoid the typical “staycation.”
Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner. It’s my favorite search engine because it searches websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is being left unturned.
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- SafetyWing (best for everyone)
- Insure My Trip (for those 70 and over)
- Medjet (for additional evacuation coverage)
Want to Travel for Free?
Travel credit cards allow you to earn points that can be redeemed for free flights and accommodation — all without any extra spending. Check out my guide to picking the right card and my current favorites to get started and see the latest best deals.
Ready to Book Your Trip?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.