Dec 23

The Art of the Staycation

Since I wrote on Monday why I think big, polluting jetliners are actually a good thing, I thought it might be nice to balance it out with a word on staycations.

For those of you that might not be privy, a staycation is exactly the same as a vacation except for one major aspect – you don’t go anywhere.  At least, you don’t go very far.

I’m a huge fan of staycations and take advantage of them on a regular basis. They’re a great way to get away without the hassle and expense of actually getting away, never mind the ecological benefits of a vacation close to home.

However, the staycation is a bit of an enigma.  When I tell people how much I like them, I usually get an eye roll followed by something like “Why would you use your time off to sit at home?”

This is how most people look at the staycation, so it continues to lack the respect it deserves.

Enjoying a a truly gratifying staycation is an art form.  It takes practice and, believe it or not, an adventurous spirit.  When done right, it can be a really lively and refreshing experience.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can experience a truly awesome vacation in your own backyard.

Be a tourist

When people from out of town come to explore your city, what do they do?  Where do they go?  Do those things and go to those places!

When you’re living your every day life, you probably overlook a lot of the things that people find really fascinating about your home.  A staycation is a great way to reconnect with your city or rediscover the things that drew you to where you are in the first place.

When I staycation here in Portland, I might go to the zoo, have a picnic at the rose garden, or go for a hike in our famous Forest Park. These are things I vividly remember  falling in love with when I moved here, but rarely take advantage of anymore now that I’m settled.

What is your place known for?  How can you reconnect with it?

Find a new hole-in-the-wall

Life at home can really become routine with your day to day responsibilities. Does your typical day looks something like this?

  • Wake up and go to work
  • Eat the same lunch you did yesterday
  • Go home and eat the same dinner you do every night
  • Distract yourself with the same thing you do all the time
  • Go to bed, wake up, repeat

If it does, take the time during your staycation to slow down and open your eyes to the places you pass by every day, but never notice.  When you’ve got a routine down, every day becomes getting from Point A to Point B with fewer and fewer interruptions.

This kind of efficiency can be great for productivity, but you’re likely missing out on some great stuff that is right in front of your face.  Spend a day biking or even walking your commute to work or other places you commonly go.

The slower pace is like turning up the resolution of life. There are likely all kinds of shops, restaurants, and cafes that you pass by all the time and today is the day to discover them.  Take it slow and enjoy.

Is there some interesting place you pass by all the time, but you’ve never been inside?

Reconnect with friends and make new ones

Life is all about relationships and a staycation is the perfect time to nurture them.  Just like all the things at home you miss during your day at work, there are people you probably miss, too.

Take a second to give them a call and let them know you’ve got some free time coming up and would like to spend it with them.  You’ll probably have to work around their busy schedule since they’re still working, but that’s OK since you’ve got your free time during the day to take care of other business.

Also, don’t pass up an opportunity to strike up a conversation with some new faces at your new favorite hole-in-the-wall. You never know who you could meet.

Quick.  Who’s just a hop, skip, or jump away that you’ve lost connection with?

Explore a new neighborhood

A staycation is a great time to get outside the comfort of your neighborhood and see what other parts of your city has to offer.  Sure, you probably make your way around town once in while, but do you really know what’s going on in other neighborhoods?

When I was in college, I took a few courses in urban planning and one in particular required that I acquaint myself with a different neighborhood each week and report out in class.  In just ten weeks, I had learned more about my city than the previous 2 years that I’d spent hanging out on campus.

Don’t forget that learning a new neighborhood is a great opportunity to find that hole-in-the-wall cafe and meet interesting people. Better to not miss out.  Double up wherever you can.

Where’s the one part of town that you keep hearing about but never get to?

Finish a project

This is probably the most highly contested piece of advice for a staycation, but I firmly believe in it.

Critics say that to make the most of a staycation, you need to do all you can to leave your daily life behind.  That’s fine for some people, but not for me.

I take on all kinds of projects in my free time (this site is one of them) because I really like them and want to spend time doing them.  Most of them get finished, but some of the harder, time consuming ones end up by the wayside when work and responsibilities get in the way.

A staycation is the perfect time to focus your energy on that project you started but haven’t made time to finish yet.

A word of warning, though – I do not recommend you use this time to work on projects you started because you had to.  Use it on one you started because you really wanted to.  This can be extremely liberating and fulfilling.

Those projects you still have to do?  Don’t worry, you’ll still finish them because, well, you have to.

Which project have you been dying to finish? If none, which one have you been dying to start?

Perfecting the art

It should be noted that your perfect staycation might look completely different from mine.

Before you embark, take some time to think about how you can really make the most of it.  The perfect staycation is more of an art than a science.  It’s very subjective, so try not to worry about what your friends think of your plans.  That’s why they’re yours.

What does your perfect staycation look like?


If you think hanging out at home is as cool as I do, leave a comment, or subscribe get free updates.

Connect with me on Twitter: @tylertervooren

Image of backyard playground by trbpix


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  1. Derek

    I love the term. It is something I do frequently but never have thought of it in the light you just shared.

    Like you suggest, I explore the outdoors. Go fishing, for a hike, or a canoe trip. When my schedule permits, there is nothing better than a good camping trip to some local State/Nat’l parks.

  2. Kevin M

    Another idea (related to the tourist part) is to go to travel sites like TripAdvisor and look at their “places to see” or check out the forums and see if there is anything that sounds interesting that you haven’t heard of or visited.

    I’ve been meaning to get to the local Habitat ReStore to see if they have any supplies I could use on our home remodel. This long weekend is a perfect time to try it out.

  3. Michael Thomas


    I think getting out of the house is a major component to a successful staycation. Camping trips are one of my favorite ways to do that. I’m a wimp though. I’ll be waiting till Spring before I head out again.


    That’s an awesome tip about figuring out what to do. TripAdvisor…brilliant. Good luck with the home remodel.

  4. Derek

    This post just made me remember a really great website for finding stuff to do: http://www.goby.com

  5. Stuart

    Staycations are hot these days. Some people are surprised just how many tourist trips you can actually make in your own town. Ever take a hop on hop off tour of your city? The tourists do so why not test the experience out.

  6. Jason

    I could not agree more with this. I take the week after the fourth of July off every year and do this. This is the week of our local Blues festival that I love going to. This year I “discovered” craft beer and am lucky to have some highly regarded brewpubs in the Kalamazoo area.
    I also use this time to accomplish things around the house that I just have not had time to get to during the rest of the year. The satisfaction of these accomplishments seems to give me a nice boost before returning to my day in day out routines.

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