A vacation is a great way to escape the monotony and responsibilities of everyday life and to have fun, explore new places and try new things. Unfortunately, traveling for vacation isn’t always realistic if money’s tight, you have time restrictions or in unusual circumstances, such as during a pandemic. Despite such obstacles, there are plenty of ways to enjoy a refreshing break and a memorable staycation.
Camp out or make a fort
Who says you have to head to the mountains to camp out? You can easily recreate the camping experience in your own backyard (or living room, if you prefer). Just pitch a tent or make a blanket fort using a clothesline and stakes. Grab lots of pillows and blankets to make it cozy! Build a campfire in a fire pit or fireplace. If that isn’t an option, light a few big candles for ambiance. Also, plan and cook a special camping meal, and don’t forget to roast marshmallows for yummy s’ mores. While you’re camping out, tell spooky stories and play games. And don’t forget about stargazing. Just download a phone app that tells you which stars or planets you’re looking at. If you’re camping indoors, use a stargazing machine that projects on the ceiling.
Travel into a book
Is there a particular time or place you’d love to travel to? In books, the universe is the limit. You can visit imaginary places such as Treasure Island and enter its world of pirates or go to Hogwarts with Harry Potter. You can also experience growing up in Kabul in “The Kite Runner.” Have you ever wanted to live in Denmark? Pick up a copy of “We, The Drowned.” How about living with chimps? Try “Next of Kin” by Roger Fouts. Want to visit Africa? Read “Dark Star Safari.” For a family vacation, decorate and dress up, cook special food and plan activities to match the theme of the book. Read part, or all, of it together or watch a movie based on the book.
Enjoy the magic of Disney or other theme parks
Visit your favorite theme park without ever leaving home. Draw or print pictures from your computer and hang them indoors and outdoors to create the theme park atmosphere. Make some of your favorite themed foods like Disneyland’s churros, beignets or Dole Whip. Disney offers many of its official recipes online. You can also find recreated recipes with a quick online search. Make up a few fun carnival games, and don’t forget to pick up some prizes. Have everyone dress like they’re going to the park. Then watch YouTube videos of your theme park’s favorite rides, shows and fireworks for a more authentic experience.
Take a trip ’round the world
If you’d like to travel to a different country or a particular place, have a theme day or week. You could even travel the world and tour a different area each night. Just don’t forget your (homemade) passports. To prepare for this staycation, learn about the place and the culture, and research what unique things there are to do, see or eat. Print out pictures of the location you choose and the landmarks you’d like to see. Research the type of regional or international eats you’d find there. Then prepare one meal, or even a day’s worth of meals, snacks and beverages to bring the experience to life. Or order carryout from a local restaurant that serves the fare. Don’t forget to play the music that’s traditional to your area of travel. Also, learn a new game that’s popular there, flip through tour books and watch travel videos or movies that were filmed there.
Lap in luxury with a spa day
A home spa day is a perfect way to enjoy the benefits of a vacation while staying at home. If you have kids, involve them, or have another adult be in charge so you can have some time to yourself. Put on a soft robe and slippers, then draw a bath with all the works for a mani, pedi, facial and hair treatment. Add to the ambiance by creating a steam room with the shower. Then light candles, play relaxing music, do massages or try aromatherapy. Incorporate whatever helps you relax and feel refreshed.
A day at the water park
Recreating a water park experience is a fun and easy way to enjoy a staycation in the heat. If you have a pool, add some water toys and games. If you don’t have a pool, fill up baby or splash pools. Some come with fun features like a blow-up slide or an attached bounce house depending on your budget and space. Slip-n-slides and sprinklers are another fun way to spend hours running around getting wet. You can even just attach a hose to a plastic bottle with holes in it for some quick, cheap fun. Add some extra excitement with a water balloon or water gunfight!
Explore your local area
Staying at home isn’t the only way to have an exciting staycation. Often, we’re so busy and caught up in our daily routines at home that we forget to take advantage of the special things to do in our local area. Exploring your hometown can be a fun adventure, too!
Treat your hometown like a tourist would. Research it online as if you’re planning to visit there. Ask other locals for ideas, and even check with your local library, chamber of commerce or parks and recreation department for suggestions. Cities and towns usually have special events throughout the year that you can incorporate into your staycation plans. And of course, this is an excellent opportunity to visit the many landmarks, museums, historical parks and other places unique to the Washington, D.C. area.
A vacation isn’t complete without enjoyable eating experiences. Try local restaurants you’ve never tried before, as well as coffee shops, ice cream places or anyplace else that you love or haven’t tried. Order carryout and head to a quiet nearby park to practice social distancing. You’ll enjoy a delicious meal while supporting local businesses.
Outdoor activities are often part of a fun-filled vacation. Look up nearby parks, preserves, rivers, lakes, hiking or other outdoor sites. Among the many things to do are bicycling, hiking, picnicking, flying kites, swimming and kayaking.
Another great way to explore your local area is geocaching. This popular treasure hunting game uses a GPS device to find a hidden container with trinkets inside. It’s fun to bring your own small items to leave in the container, too, when you find it.
Regardless of your budget, situation or time constraints, there are plenty of fun, memorable staycation ideas to enjoy at home.