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No Travel, No Problem: How to Plan a COVID-19 Staycation

All the things we love about going somewhere new -- minus the trip.

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Published: Summer 2020

This summer has looked a lot different than any before it. Physical distancing guidelines and travel restrictions have been put in place to keep communities safe and healthy, and they’re also encouraging us to think outside the box when it comes to our usual summer plans. The good news is, you can still experience a fun, fulfilling vacation without leaving home (AKA a staycation).

While you’re taking precautions to keep yourself physically healthy, it’s also important to recognize ways to protect your mental and emotional health from the pandemic’s many stressors. Taking time off for a staycation (even if you aren’t physically going anywhere) can be just as beneficial to your health as a traditional one.

Research has found that one of the happiest parts of taking a vacation is planning and anticipating it. Here are our tips for planning out your perfect COVID-19 staycation (and being intentional throughout the process).

1) Clear your schedule.

In an era where lots of folks are learning and working from home, it can be hard to draw the line between responsibilities and free time. On your staycation, let yourself check out of your usual responsibilities for a bit. Of course, this requires some planning ahead on your part.

Block off dates in your calendar with plenty of time to notify your work or school. Get any tasks, assignments, and household chores done before your staycation, and avoid checking your email or student account once it starts. Let folks know your plans and when they’ll be able to get in contact with you.

(This may also be a good time to mute notifications for social media and news updates because those can be just as stressful.)

2) Consider your goals.

No, you don’t need some greater purpose or a five-step plan for your staycation -- just a general idea of what you’d like to do. Maybe you really want to pamper yourself and spend the day relaxing. Or maybe you want your day to be jam-packed with new and exciting things. Whatever you go with, just make sure it’s something that you genuinely enjoy.

3) Schedule some activities.

We’re using the world “schedule” here very loosely (unless detailed itineraries are your thing, in which case -- go for it!). Have at least a general idea of what you’d like to do on your staycation. It’ll help you make the most of your time off and give you some specific stuff to look forward to.

Think about the things you like to do, the things you haven’t had the time to do, and the new things you’re interested in doing. You could also consider theming your staycation to give it a little more direction. Here are some ideas to get your gears turning:

  • Spa day: Put a face mask on, drop a bathbomb in the tub, and spend all day in a robe or your fluffiest pajamas.
  • Super sporty: Go for a run, try an online exercise class, and anything else that’ll get your heart pumping.
  • #TBT: Marathon some old movies or shows, stock up on nostalgic snacks, and throw it back to simpler (pre-COVID-19) times.
  • Get crafty: Learn how to knit, play with watercolor paints, and try your best to tackle a major DIY project.

4) Plan to spend time outside.

With physical distancing guidelines, maybe a bustling beach getaway or a theme park adventure isn’t in the cards right now. But that doesn’t mean that you have to spend your staycation cooped up inside all day (and we’d really recommend not doing exactly that).

You can go for a solo walk or hike, pitch a tent or stargaze in your backyard, find a secluded spot to watch the sunset or sunrise, or even just spend some time reading on your porch, your roof, or in a park. There are a lot of physical and mental health benefits to being outdoors, so make an effort to venture outside for a bit. (Just make sure to wear a mask and follow any physical distancing guidelines set by your local health department.)

5) Change some stuff up.

Part of the fun of a vacation is getting to see and experience new things. While you can’t quite get the same dramatic change of scenery with a staycation, there are still things you can do at home to make it feel a little fresher.

Start by making your space feel different than it usually does. Even subtle things like changing your bedsheets, lighting some candles, or putting out fresh flowers can have a big impact. Then change up your routine! For example, you can have breakfast in bed, try something new with your skincare, put on a specially made playlist, or order or prepare an unfamiliar meal. Just try to make the day feel as out of the ordinary as possible to really get that vacation vibe.

6) Choose your wardrobe.

You know that feeling when you’re packing for a trip, when you’re planning outfits and getting excited about what’s to come? You can capture a little bit of that pre-trip magic by picking out your wardrobe ahead of your staycation.

This is also a great opportunity to change things up and really get in the mindset of your at-home getaway. If you’ve been living in exclusively t-shirts and sweatpants for the past few months, consider busting out something extra nice from the back of your closet and having a fancy dinner at home. Likewise, if you just can’t pass up on the opportunity to spend all day in pajamas, then you do you! It’s also never a bad idea to rely on your favorite wardrobe staples, like your comfiest cardigan or perfectly worn-in pair of jeans.

Just like you probably would with a regular vacation, plan out your outfits in advance, and make sure they’re the right fit for whatever activities you’ve got planned (suitcase optional).

7) Gather any supplies you need.

Depending on your staycation plans, you may need time to get some things together -- like craft supplies, snacks, a new book, etc. You certainly don’t have to buy anything new to have a successful staycation, but if it’s in your budget and it adds to your experience, then go ahead and place those online shopping orders. (Plus, you’ll already be saving on a lot of the usual expenses of a vacation, including transportation, lodging, and entrance fees for attractions.)

It’ll also help give you something to look forward to and build up some anticipation towards your staycation. With every trip to the store or package at your door, you’ll be reminded that you’re that much closer to your well-deserved break.

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