Self-Care and Staycations

Currently on a month-long vacation before my contract starts in New Zealand, I sit in my campervan for three rainy days, in the same spot, taking a staycation while I write this. Because sometimes you need a staycation, even from a vacation.

What’s the difference? While both are taking breaks from routine responsibilities, staycations are the kind where you stay at home and vacations typically refer to going away to unfamiliar territory, whether a short drive away or across the globe. 

Home doesn’t mean exclusively inside the walls of your house. It can include day trips to local attractions, a nearby park you love, treating yourself to a spa day. The key factor is the familiarity, which brings ease and comfort.

The benefits of staycations over vacations

Vacations can have plenty of their own stresses. The actual travelling, sticking to budgets, going over budgets, the difficulties of navigating unknown streets and/or languages, the expectations that might fall short, and the pressures to work are some examples of stressors that might limit how restorative a vacation can be. 

When committing to a vacation in your space, you immediately cut out most of those aforementioned stressors. Your home is meant to be your safe space. It gets filled up with chores and stresses in everyday life but at its core, it’s the place you know, the place you can unbutton your pants, so to speak.

Staying home and taking a moment to relax in a familiar environment can be a comforting practice.

Visiting home after years on the road, my greatest appreciation was the ability to get around without a map in my hands. The ability to communicate effectively. Knowing which places to go to and which to skip. It’s a lot easier to focus on yourself when you’re not focusing on your surroundings.

Staying home is cheaper than travelling, even when splurging on some bath salts, a nice dinner, or whatever activity you want to fill your time with, simply by eliminating travel costs like airfare/gas and accommodation. 

A recent APA study found that positive effects of vacations fade after only a couple days. Instead of experiencing a short burst of rejuvenation once a year, frequent mini-staycations can give you that boost as often as you need it.

Juggling relaxation in a busy world

In North America, most workers get two weeks of vacation time per year. Some don’t even take that. The fact that we need more paid vacation time is a whole other can of worms, but this is the reality we live in, which can make it hard to prioritize staycations.

Nobody wants to sacrifice the little time they have to explore a new place or relax somewhere luxurious in favour of staying in the same old boring home. 

If you can, or choose to, use vacation time to create staycations, all the better. But if you can’t, there are ways to make room for them in your life without draining those precious vacation days.

  • Plan ahead! Find a weekend that doesn’t have prior engagements and block it off on your calendar. It can be tempting to fill empty time with plans or chores, but if you have it solidified as a staycation, you can ensure you get any pressing chores done beforehand and raincheck any tempting plans that come up. Even if you can only give yourself one day, give it to yourself.
  • Make use of public holidays. There are plenty of random holidays that aren’t associated with family-oriented time like Christmas or Easter. Particularly if they give you a three-day weekend and you had no plans, take advantage to give yourself a mini staycation.
  • Include friends or family. Sometimes alone recharge time is amazing, but that’s not the only way to do it. Just like you can vacation with family or friends, you can staycation with them too. As a child, my family did this less formally. Sometimes we’d get all our errands and chores done on Saturday and spend quality time together on Sundays by playing outside, make dinner all together, playing games, and maybe finishing off with a movie and popcorn. It was nothing fancy, but it was important. 

Ultimately, the point of a staycation is to truly feel at home and enjoy your space to its fullest while recharging. It’s about making time for yourself and doing the things that bring joy to your life but can easily fall to the wayside. Whether it’s a week or a day, with others or alone, spending your time with calming or engaging activities, the best way to get the most of staycations is to make time for them frequently.

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