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How to Plan a Joyful Staycation

Even if your ideal lifestyle involves plenty of travel, there are certain times when vacations to far-flung destinations aren’t an option. Whether you’re saving money this season for a bigger trip next year or unable to travel due to other responsibilities, there is an answer to the ache of wanderlust: the staycation. 

What is a Staycation?

Think of a staycation as a vacation without the chaotic airports and travel expenses. With a staycation, you can become a tourist in your own city — or even in your own home. 

Some staycations ideas involve staying at a local hotel for some rest and relaxation, while others involve outdoor adventures or visits to art museums and galleries. You might take a day or two off work to enjoy the experience fully, but that’s not a requirement. The perfect staycation is simple: it is the one that sparks joy for you. 

How to Plan a Joy-Sparking Staycation

01. Imagine Your Ideal “Trip”

There are countless staycation ideas out there, so it can help to spend some time envisioning your ideal staycation (much like you would plan a regular vacation). What sort of experience sounds ideal to you? Do you need some rest and relaxation or intellectual and creative stimulation? Do you want to spend the time outdoors or lounging around? Brainstorm some ideas or have a planning session with your loved ones. It will help you create a clear vision for how you’ll spend this time.

02. Consider Your Budget

Staycations might involve staying home for a weekend, checking into a local hotel and everything in between. Expenses will vary accordingly, so you may also want to outline a staycation budget before planning your itinerary. Don’t worry if you don’t have much to spend. There are joy-sparking staycations for every budget!

03. Plan an Itinerary

Staying in a vacation mindset can feel challenging when you’re in your own city or home, where you’re used to certain routines, so it can help to set a flexible itinerary for the time you’re taking off. Plan to tackle your usual to-dos beforehand so you can take a break from as many of your weekly responsibilities as possible. You deserve this time!

04. Make Meals Special 

One of the most delightful aspects of a vacation is experiencing new cuisines. Imagine the meals you’d like to eat on your staycation. Are you excited to cook a new dish? Or treat yourself to room service in bed? Is there a restaurant you’ve wanted to try for years? Jot down a few ideas, look up recipes, and make a grocery list if necessary, so you have a loose meal plan in place.

05. Tidy Up 

If you’re staying at home, give yourself plenty of time to tidy the house, so the time feels serene. You might pull out the linens usually reserved for guests or your special occasion dinnerware, or burn incense or candles to create an ambiance that reminds you of a hotel spa. For help preparing, read our guide to tidying before hosting guests — in this case, you’re hosting yourself!

06. Slow Down 

Staycations are the perfect reminder to take a step back from the rush of day-to-day responsibilities. Don’t forget to take some time to sit quietly and enjoy the experience. If you sometimes struggle with slowing down, try one or two of Marie’s favorite self-care practices during your time off.  

Staycation Ideas for Every Taste

Artist Retreat

Are you passionate about art or architecture? Plan a staycation in your city full of visits to nearby museums and galleries. Check ahead to see whether there are visitor tours or artist lectures scheduled. Some cities also offer historic architecture tours in downtown areas. After you’ve spent the day gathering inspiration, head back home (or to your hotel) to sketch, paint or write for an hour or two.  

Spa Weekend 

Fill your time off with self-care rituals like an at-home manicure and pedicure or a sheet mask session (or both!). Or book a massage and a facial on the same day. Many cities have day spas that offer access to hot or cold saunas for a reasonable rate. 

Backyard Staycation  

Spend the day (or weekend) outdoors in the backyard, a nearby park or city arboretum with a picnic and books. Take a hike on a local trail (here is an excellent resource for finding one) or a horseback riding lesson just outside your city. Or go wild and pitch a tent in your backyard!  

Romantic Firsts

If you’re planning a romantic staycation for you and your partner, why not revisit some of your firsts? Book dinner at a restaurant where you had your first date, or rewatch the first movie you saw together. You might even repeat that very first date down to the letter. Or look to the future: Plan a staycation where everything you do is a first for each of you.

The Solo Staycation 

If you’re single, a staycation is a perfect opportunity to connect (or reconnect) with what sparks joy for you. Some solo staycation ideas: Take yourself out on a date, spend the day in your city’s botanical or Japanese garden followed by an elaborate sushi lunch or cook your idea of the perfect meal. Do exactly what you love to do. 

The Faux Vacation

If your dream is to travel to a foreign country, but you need more time to plan and save, use this staycation to bring the place to you. Out of all our ideas for a staycation, this is our absolute favorite: If you’d like to see Tokyo someday, try a weekend dedicated to Japan where you make sushi or hot pot or host a full Japanese-inspired dinner party. End the evening with a double-feature of classic Japanese films or by combing through travel guides to start planning your future trip’s ideal itinerary!

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