The end of summer is nigh. With just a few short weeks until we enter the fall season, Brian and I are reflecting on our summer. It’s been a different experience compared to last year’s hectic imbalance of heavy workloads, little sleep, and our bathroom renovation.
This summer has grounded us more. We chose to limit our travel due to inflation and air travel issues. Instead, we allocated our time, energy, and resources to life at home. Rather than dealing with a project prematurely forced upon us (such as a leaking shower), we are intentionally working through projects of our choosing as we slowly and deliberately enjoy our time.
From home upgrades to movie nights and hole-in-the-wall gems to poolside reads, we have loved our staycation adventures.
A Vacation Mindset
What does a vacation look like to you? Brian and I favor more low-key ventures over luxury ones, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t feel luxurious to us. Whether you prefer one way over the other, one of the best ways to prepare for your staycation is to get into the vacation mindset. There are simple ways you can affordably do so, no matter the type of vacation you like to enjoy.
- Meal Plan: Pre-plan and shop for any of your vacation favorites.
- Clean: If you’re staying in your home, clear the clutter and embrace a clean space.
- Unclutter Your Mind: Get your mind right! Shake off or resolve consuming thoughts beforehand.
- Create a Soundtrack: Play your favorite songs or build a new vacation-ready playlist.
- Set the Scene: Light some tropical-scented candles, hang festive lights or decorations, or lay out a cozy robe. Freshen up your space to make it feel more special. Perfect for a home or hotel staycation!
Before Brian and I set off on a trip, we try to make sure we are in a good mindset. Frankly, we are working to carry this type of mindset through our day-to-day…just because we don’t want to end up taking life too seriously!
Specifically, though, to prep for a vacation, we like to:
Get ahead of outstanding work projects and tasks as much as we can before departure.
Our entire house gets a complete once-over, including fresh bedding, scrubbed-down bathrooms, and mopped floors.
We discuss budget, activities, and points of interest.
We shop and even prep for most of our dine-in meals. If we have meals out, we already have an idea of the budget and place before we pull the trigger. To be fair, meals out have mostly been carry-out lately. This has been great for staycation plans since carry-out still feels indulgent and special compared to the routine of cooking at home like any other day.
Getting into a vacation mindset creates excitement and anticipation. With summer coming to a close, you might be itching to wrap up the season with a few more getaways. At least I know we are! Whether your kids are back in school, you’re saving up for a bigger trip down the road, or you’re choosing to stick around town for simplicity, a staycation might just fit the bill. It’s a perfect, low-key alternative to a ‘classic’ vacation.
1. Spa Day
Explore a local day spa around town. Depending on your budget and comfort level, you can visit a luxurious boutique spa or a 24/7 traditional Korean bath house. Enjoy some quiet downtime and soak your worries away.
For a more cost-effective and private approach, you can pamper yourself with a DIY spa day at home. Pick up some candles, face masks, massage oils, and other favorite spa essentials. Set the stage with a little music and cozy mood lighting.
2. Mini Road Trip
Take a day trip! Sure, gas is expensive, but that just means you will have to make the trip worthwhile. Pick a place you’ve been meaning to visit that’s a couple of hours away. Throw on some tunes, see the sights, and cruise away. Bonus adventure points for making a random, locally-owned pit-stop somewhere along the way.
3. Vacation-Inspired Meal
Dreamin’ of a specific destination? Look up some recipes for must-try dishes from that city or region. Have fun with preparing themed meals. Or, if you’d rather a night off, search for a local restaurant that specializes in specific cuisines or dishes for an easy option.
4. Virtual Tours
When Brian and I aren’t travelling, we like to live vicariously through others. Take YouTube, for example. This video platform provides incredible access to diverse backgrounds and experiences. We love virtually touring new cities and places with other travelers. Some of our favorite channels include:
- Renata Pereira: Former newscaster and FIFA manager turned travel content creator
- The Endless Adventure: Travel couple Eric and Allison traded in their day jobs for full time travel
- Adventures of A+K: Hiking-centric travel couple Adam and Kathryn hit the road in their Sprinter van
Along with specific channels, we like to check out videos on walking tours through different cities, national parks, and even museums. There are plenty of virtual tours available on YouTube!
5. Hometown Tour
How much have you really traveled through your hometown? It’s easy to establish your own favorites and get into a routine at home. Oftentimes, it can be difficult to catch the new or revitalized places that pop up since we’re all so busy living our own lives. It takes effort to keep up with local events or different attractions. A staycation is the perfect time to explore.
There are a handful of ways to plan your hometown tour:
- Walking Tours: Many metropolitan areas offer different kinds, including historical, haunted, food, pub, etc. Though most come at a cost, there are some that are free!
- Audio Tours: Check if there is a downloadable audio tour of your own city.
- DIY: Pick some offbeat places you’d like to check out after consulting Tripadvisor or Yelp. Have each person in your family choose a place or two for a team effort.
6. Explore the Local Outdoor Scene
Head outside! Summer is a great time to take in nature. Depending on where you’re located, it might be uncomfortably muggy and humid during the day. Don’t worry, though, there are plenty of activities to do in the early morning or evening hours.
- Visit a state or national park
- Hike through local parks and trails
- Listen in on free summer concerts
- Stroll through artists’ or farmers’ markets
- Check out a local outdoor festival
- Seek thrills at a carnival or amusement park
- Catch some fish at a nearby lake or river
If you’re near the beach, there are plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventure! If not, you’ll find plenty to do with a little bit of creativity.
7. Indulge in a Hotel Escape
It’s nice to feel like you’re officially on a getaway, even if you’re not very far. A “Hotel Escape” can be experienced at a local hotel or resort, as well as in your own home.
Treat yourself to an evening at a nice hotel. Pamper yourself with a night away where you can soak in a hot bath, cozy up in luxurious sheets, and have someone else take care of the cleaning. If you don’t feel like dealing with a hotel, you can always create a similar environment back at home: Use the good sheets, create a cozy environment with plenty of pillows and blankets, and have your own cocktail or hot chocolate hour. You can even order-in for a ‘room service’ kind of treat!
8. Hop on the DIY Train
If you’re curious about crafts or home improvement, why not take a vacation to dip your toes into it? Hopping on the DIY train can be fun, but also challenging. How you perceive it will depend on your personality and attitude. There are plenty of folks that have no DIY interest and may find the idea stressful, especially when vacation time is involved. However, there are others (like Brian and me!) who appreciate the idea of being able to take time off for DIY projects.
9. Camp Out
Commit to a digital detox. Unplug from society, work, and other digital distractions. Set up a tent nearby, even if it’s in your own backyard, and tune into nature for a little while. Grab a book or two, maybe even a journal, and take some time for yourself.
If you’re with others, bring along some board games and a little creative mystery for telling scary stories.
10. Literary Adventure
Dive into a good book. You can either hang solo or have your family join your book club. Take turns reading and discussing different chapters. Build your staycation around the storyline. Create themed meals or activities as you venture through the book.
Go Your Own Way
A staycation is a great way to explore on your own terms. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure in your own backyard. It’s perfect for those who aren’t big travelers, are trying to save money, or are simply short on time. Whatever the reason, a staycation puts you in the driver’s seat (sometimes literally!).
You have more flexibility in budget, control, and freedom of choice. Brian and I prefer more freedom when we travel, even if it’s here at home. As the summer season comes to a close, we plan to wind down with a few new-to-us restaurants, good reads, and a DIY balcony floor replacement.
Will you be ending your summer with a staycation of your own? What kind of staycation ideas do you have in mind?
Loved being reminded of all of our ‘forgotten’ options. Covid has us all still out of our positive mindset. Nice photos also.
Thanks! Love finding new foods and dishes to try!! Covid has definitely made an impact on our experience. We try to stay focused on creating positive experiences as much as we can, even though Covid’s effects are still lingering.