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How 4 Thrive Global Staffers Invested in Staycations That Helped Them Recharge This Year

The pandemic may have transformed the way we travel, but you can still experience all the well-being benefits of vacation without getting on a plane.

Between your untouched bucket lists and your unredeemed travel credit card rewards, this past year at home may feel extra disappointing. The good news is that while you may not be able to amuse the inner globetrotter within you right now, there are other ways to satisfy your yearning and use your piled up travel card points — or continue to build those points for that future adventure — all without having to go far: you can take a staycation. 

By definition, a staycation is a vacation spent in one’s home country rather than abroad, or one spent at home — potentially involving day trips to local attractions. And it turns out that when it comes to reaping the physical and mental benefits of taking time off, a staycation definitely counts. A 2018 American Psychological Association survey on work and well-being found that nearly 70% of workers experienced an increase in positive mood and energy after taking a vacation from work, and about 60% felt more productive when they returned. 

If you’re considering a staycation, you will be pleased to hear that with the right travel credit card, you can still take advantage of a number of perks. In fact, if you’re a Discover it® Miles cardmember, your card can enhance your staycation in major ways. For example, you can redeem your previously-earned miles as a statement credit towards purchases made at restaurants or gas stations in addition to traditional travel purchases** — so if you want to splurge on take-out and support an upscale establishment in your neighborhood, your staycation is the time to do it. Discover it® Miles also allows you to use your rewards toward your Discover credit card bill at any time. Not to mention you earn 1.5x Miles on every purchase, so whether you’re at home or away your Miles balance can grow. 

For some more inspiration on how to spend your staycation, here’s four Thrive Global staffers on how they got creative with their vacation days this year, the purchases that helped their time off feel luxurious, and overall, why their time was well-spent. 

“The week off was a welcome refuge from the chaos of this year.” —Alexandra Hayes Robinson, Senior Editor 

“At the start of the pandemic, my now-husband and I (we got married in September) were staying — off and on — with his parents in Long Island, New York. In July, we decided to take a week off from work to have a true staycation there. Since we were already at the house, we tried to deviate from our regular routine as much as possible. We cooked fancy omelettes for breakfast, using fresh herbs from the garden, and hung out around the pool reading books in the morning — a perk of having no Zoom calls to rush off to. We got to bask in the sun and ride our bikes to nowhere in particular. We drove to beaches in other townships simply because we had more time on our hands. The week off was a welcome refuge from the chaos of this year, and I returned to work (and life) feeling satisfied and ready to jump back in. 

Before the pandemic, we had been planning a lavish trip to the Greek islands for our honeymoon, but those plans were left behind come May when we faced the reality of what COVID meant for travel plans. Our fantasies of feta and ouzo aren’t lost, though — just postponed. Greece will always be there, and when we do get to go, we’ll have additional months of income and savings under our belt, and will be able to splurge more than we would’ve as newlyweds. In fact, keeping that goal in mind is helping me spend my money more mindfully, and earn non-travel related Miles in the process. I’ve been using my Discover it® Miles card to pay for my meals whenever I dine out or order-in, and when we drove out to Boston for our 22-person wedding, I used the card to pay for gas. I really appreciate that while I’m not able to get on a plane to travel, I’m still able to earn Miles in other ways using my card.” 

“I felt refreshed in ways I haven’t felt since before the pandemic.” —Mallory Stratton, Senior Editor 

“My partner and I don’t feel safe traveling, so a staycation was the clear option. I had no concrete plans, but loved the idea of staying in and enjoying all the things that I typically don’t have time to do, or I’m that too tired to do on the weekends. Top on my list was getting back into a regular practice of exercising at home. I booked virtual yoga classes every day, alternating between more challenging Vinyasa classes and more gentle and restorative flows. I also invested in a new yoga bolster and some at-home equipment. 

We moved to a new apartment in New York City at the height of the pandemic, and one of the surprises when we moved in was a whirlpool tub! So for my staycation, I bought a bath pillow, lavender bath foam, and epsom salt. I made myself tea and took relaxing, long baths that would definitely have been a luxury during any working day. I queued up my favorite playlists and audiobooks, lit candles, and just enjoyed that time to myself away from screens. 

After the staycation, I felt refreshed in ways I haven’t felt since before the pandemic. I wasn’t overwhelmed at the start of the following work week; I was able to prioritize and focus more effectively. Even though my time off was spent at home, it provided a break from all the sameness, so I could start over fresh.” 

“It was so simple, but so special.” —Shelby Wilburn, Creative Project Manager 

“At the tail end of summer, I decided I needed a change of scenery. There was definitely some guilt I had to work through to ‘allow’ myself this time off. At first my thinking was, ‘You’re at home all day since you work remotely; why do you need a vacation?’ Ultimately, I decided to rent a cabin by Lake Tahoe, which is right in my backyard in Northern Nevada, for a few days. I love Tahoe and I’ve been there thousands of times, but one of the things that’s really cool about staycations is how you find the beauty again in places that are familiar. I went to the North Lake side of Tahoe, and there are spots in the lake where it’s crystal clear and you can see the rocks at the bottom. 

As for what I brought with me, I packed some nail polish and magazines for an at-home spa day, some supplies to make a vision board, and a couple of books. Every day, I woke up in the morning and sat on the deck. I challenged myself to not be on my phone, because I really wanted to unplug. I’d write in my notebook for a little while, then go inside, grab my books and my lunch, and go to the beach and sit in the sand all day. I’d nap a little, listen to music. It was so simple, but so special. 

After the staycation, I felt like I didn’t have as much brain fog, and I didn’t feel as heavy and tense. This time with myself helped me realize that the world is so much bigger than me and my problems and what I’m going through. When I got back home, I really felt alive — and grateful to be healthy. I felt this new energy. I was back on track.” 

“My family really appreciated that I took the time off, and it definitely brought us closer together.” —Libby Duke, Senior Director, Execution and Impact 

“Over the summer, I went to my mom’s cabin in the middle of nowhere and fully unplugged for four days. I felt guilty about taking the time off at first, because, during this pandemic, it feels selfish to take time for myself. But my husband’s birthday was coming up, and I realized that the ultimate gift for both of us would be for me to fully unplug. 

During the staycation, we spent a lot of time outside: We kayaked together, saw multiple snakes, and got several ticks. We ordered lobster roll kits from Pauli’s, a famous sandwich shop in Boston’s North End, and cooked a ton. I made my mom’s iconic Greek Tortellini Salad. Zach, my husband, was in charge of the grill. We made a strawberry shortcake, which now I think is a family tradition. We played games, like Codenames and Shanghai Rummy. We also were committed to trying something new during our time off, so one night we conducted a family wine tasting consisting exclusively of Trader Joe’s wines that were less than $7 a bottle. 

I also made sure to spend time alone. I took two baths that were each over two hours, and read books. I truly couldn’t live without my Kindle. The battery lasts for six weeks and I can fill it full of books. And since it doesn’t have email, phone, or any communication tools, it really helps me to unplug. Besides the benefits I experience, my family really appreciated that I took the time off and it definitely brought us closer together. I came back to work fully recharged, with fresh stories and a new perspective.” 

The benefits of taking a break and recharging are clear, no matter how you choose to do it. Discover recognizes this and has taken steps to ensure that their travel card – Discover it® Miles — which comes with Discover Match: Discover will match all the miles that Cardmembers earn at the end of their first year*— provides the value and flexibility that cardmembers seek. Discover it® Miles cardholders can now redeem miles as a statement credit toward restaurant and gas station

purchases. And customers continue to earn 1.5X miles for every dollar spent on all purchases they make. They’ve also launched a new redemption option that allows cardmembers to use their miles to pay off their credit card bill, and there’s even the opportunity to redeem your miles for cash (at equal value). 

Disclosures: 

1. Discover Match®: Only from Discover, as of August 2020. We’ll match all the Miles rewards you’ve earned on your credit card from the day your new account is approved through your first 12 consecutive billing periods or 365 days, whichever is longer, and add it to your rewards account within two billing periods. You’ve earned Miles rewards only when they’re processed, which may be after the transaction date. We will not match: rewards that are processed after your match period ends; statement credits; rewards transfers from Discover checking or other deposit accounts; or rewards for accounts that are closed. This promotional offer may not be available in the future and is exclusively for new cardmembers. No purchase minimums. 

2. Redeem Miles: Starting at 1 Mile, you can redeem your Miles as a credit to your account to pay for all or part of your bill, for cash as an electronic deposit to your bank account, or for a credit for Travel Purchases made on your statement within the last 180 days. Travel Purchases include airline tickets, hotel rooms, car rentals, travel agents, online travel sites, commuter transportation, restaurants and gas stations. 

3. Miles Never Expire: We will credit your account with your rewards balance if your account is closed or has not been used in 18 months. See Miles Terms and Conditions for details.

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