With COVID-19 disrupting so much of daily life, many have also had to give up on their highly-anticipated summer vacations. If you’re one of those people, I have some good news. Ditching the vacation altogether isn’t your only option; you can pivot and instead take time off for a staycation. With a little intentionality and planning, you can walk away from a staycation feeling just as rested as you do after a week-long trip to the beach.
1. Plan Ahead of Time
Start with some intentional planning. If you just mark the days off, and then embark on your staycation without any planning, you’ll end up distracted and possibly even bored. Do your staycation justice by giving it just as much intentional planning as you would that trip overseas.
Start by asking yourself these questions:
- What is stressing you out?
- What do you miss?
- What are you craving? More rest, fun, learning, or connection?
Use your answers as a starting point for scheduling out your staycation. As you schedule out your time, make room for days filled with fun activities, days to do nothing, and days designed to connect deeper with your family or loved ones through some intentional work like a core values exercise (more on that later!).
2. Disconnect Completely
As you approach your staycation, be intentional with how you disconnect from work and daily life. This is another one of those areas where you need to spend some time planning before the staycation starts. Figure out what your boundaries for disconnecting will be, make them clear, and then communicate them well to the people around you so that everyone knows what to expect.
Some boundary ideas for intentional disconnection:
- Decide not to check in on work, including not answering emails, texts, or phone calls
- Limit time on devices
- Turn off all notifications on your phone so you aren’t tempted to check in
- Wait to post staycation photos until after the staycation ends
- Turn off the news
Apart from communicating your boundaries ahead of time, you should also set an out-of-office reply that outlines exactly when you’ll be back, including a sentence or two detailing that all emails, texts, and calls will not be checked and answered until then. This can help prevent you from feeling obligated to pick up when someone escalates their communication to a phone call or text after sending an email. You can even let close family and friends know that you’re unplugging and will check back in with a text or a call after your staycation ends.
3. Plan At-Home Activities
With some creativity, at-home activities can be fun for everyone. Get input from your partner, roommate, or family on one specific (and special!) at-home activity that each person would like to do during staycation. Think backyard camping, movies on a projector outdoors, or learning something new through virtual museum tours and online courses. If you live alone, purchase that hammock you’ve been eyeing and relax with a new book in the backyard or at the local park. You could also use this time to finally try out yoga or meditation with a virtual class or two.
Most importantly, use this time to connect intentionally with the people in your home. You can do so through an activity like a core values exercise that works for all ages. Families and partners often find the exercise illuminating and walk away feeling closer and more aligned on shared core values.
Plan a solid hour to walk through this exercise with your family or partner, and then follow these steps:
- Start by asking each member, “What is important to you about…?”
- Have someone write down exact words/language
- Once everyone has shared, ask the questions again (often hearing others’ answers will illuminate something new to be shared)
- Next, pick ten that are most important and go through each phrase/value to discuss the meaning and try to find a common meaning to agree on
- Number all the phrases/values from most to least important
You might be surprised by what others value and even the definition that they use to describe those values.
4. Treat Yourself
Lastly, make sure you treat yourself. Go all out! Remember, this is vacation. Even if you’re still at home and in your own neighborhood, you can indulge and have a little fun.
A few ways to treat yourself and your loved ones include:
- Take turns ordering meals from favorite restaurants
- Try a complicated new recipe together—it doesn’t matter if the ingredient list is a mile long!
- As you feel safe to do so, venture outside for a spa day—or make an in-home spa in your bathroom
- Rent kayaks, canoes, or paddleboards for a family beach or lake day
- Pack a picnic and visit that state park a few hours away for a fun day hike
- Buy that brand new board game that you’ve been eyeing and have a game night
- Build a bonfire in the backyard and pair it with an elaborate s’mores bar to see who can build the best combination
With intentionality that starts in the planning phrase and is carried throughout the entire staycation, you’ll be able to walk away feeling rested, fulfilled, and connected—just as much, if not more, as you would from a Caribbean cruise.