Vacations can be a lot of things: fun, relaxing, educational…
…expensive, stressful, exhausting.
Fortunately, you don’t have to leave home to have a great vacation. Or, rather, “staycation.”
Maybe airplanes make you nervous or train rides make you sick. Maybe you can’t afford that big trip to Honolulu this year. Maybe you just moved into a prime price of Arlington real estate and want to make the most of it. Or maybe you’re just feeling lazy.
Whatever the reason, we’ve got all the tips you need to turn the familiar streets of your own hometown into an exotic destination full of excitement and surprise.
Hit the pause button
Sometimes the hardest part of any vacation, whether you travel far or not, is giving yourself a break from the everyday hustle ‘n’ bustle. In this age of smartphones, staying connected has never been easier. But disconnecting has never been harder.
The temptation is even greater during a staycation, where for all intents and purposes, nothing has changed. Even if you took the week off from work, it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of bringing your work home with you. Try making a pledge to yourself to enjoy your vacation, to let go of your responsibilities, and to put yourself first for once.
First things first, ditch the smartphone. At the very least, if you find yourself checking your email or social media too much, uninstall those apps. Consider stashing the charger away somewhere inconvenient. Somewhere not impossible to get to (in case of emergencies), but somewhere that makes retrieving it enough of a hassle that it’ll remind you why you put it there to begin with.
Turn off the computer, too, and set up an out-of-office response for your email. Heck, you might even want to lock your clocks away, turn off the news, and leave the mail in the mailbox. A vacation is supposed to be your chance to get away from the world. Whatever it takes to make that easier is worth the effort.
Become a tourist
One of the great joys of going on a vacation is getting to try new things. That can seem easier said than done when you’ve decided to stay someplace familiar. Sometimes, though, it’s just a matter of perspective. The best way to try new things is to see through new eyes.
The trick to becoming a tourist in your own backyard is to think like a tourist and act like a tourist. You may think you know all the best restaurants, you might have certain places you like to shop, etc. But pretend you’re not from here. Approach your hometown the way you would any other vacation destination. Look up suggestions for and by visitors online. If you find out about an attraction of some kind you never heard of or tried before, now’s the time to give it a chance.
Step outside your comfort zone and forgo your usual hotspots. Drive to a part of town you rarely visit and check out different shops and restaurants at random. Better yet, do something blatantly tourist-y. Visit a local museum or historical site. Surely you know everything there is to know about your town, right? Maybe not. Open your mind and be willing to learn, explore, experiment, and discover. You may find out something you never knew, or even find some new favorites that outclass your old ones.
Last but not least, don’t forget to do the most tourist-y thing of all: take pictures. Lots of them. There’s no better way to see the familiar in a fresh light than through the lens of a camera.
Rediscover a passion
It can be hard finding the time to indulge our passions during the chaos of our daily routines. A good way of helping to separate a staycation from your “normal” life is to use it as an opportunity to enjoy all the activities you so often aren’t able to.
Think of it like this: what are the things you love doing when you’re on vacation that you don’t get to do at home? What if someone told you that you don’t actually have to leave your hometown to do most of those things? Because that’s the truth.
It’s easy to forget that the reason we often don’t do such things isn’t because the place where we live is completely devoid of fun activities. It’s not. It’s just that we have so little time to enjoy them when we’re home. And since we tend to do those kinds of things elsewhere instead, we begin to associate those things as vacation-only activities. Get it?
Say you love the great outdoors. Your idea of a great vacation away from home involves driving out to the woods to go camping and hiking. Well, no one says you can’t pitch a tent in your own backyard, or go hiking at a nearby park. Maybe you like learning new things. Why not take a class at the local college or from a private instructor? If you enjoy live events, attend a local concert, art exhibit, or sports game. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.