Tips for the Perfect Staycation

How to make the most of staying put

Even if you're sticking close to home for a "staycation," time off can be as fun and dynamic as if you were vacationing out of town — you can see and eat enough new things to be refreshed and ready to take on 2012. But, there are secrets to getting the most out of the break; the first one being that you should treat your city like a new destination. Look at it through a tourist’s eyes — do a few touristy things you’d usually avoid or indulge a bit more than you normally would at home. Which brings us to tip number two…

Get all your household chores and work-related business out of the way before you’re officially on staycation. You wouldn’t vacuum, mow the lawn, or do the laundry while on holiday, so don’t fall into that routine just because you’re at home. Likewise, stock the fridge (and wine rack) beforehand, so that the only time you need to spend shopping for food is if you feel like a leisurely stroll through a farmers market.

Find out if any friends nearby are staycating, too. That way, you can plan outings together or invite each other over, which will make a staycation feel more like a vacation. When you have guests over, you’re obviously less likely to be distracted by chores or checking email.

Let your hair down a little — have a glass of wine with lunch. And dessert, too. And then repeat at dinner. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/Edoardo Tacconi)

And while you’re at it, make sure to eat in restaurants you haven’t tried that are in neighborhoods you rarely visit. There’s bound to be some new or highly acclaimed eatery you have yet to try that would make the perfect start to a night out.

Find out if any festivals or markets are going on in the general vicinity — food festivals, wine fairs, farmers markets, local artisan markets, and concerts are all great ways to see and taste new things. Plus, they’re often free.

Let yourself play tourist for a day or two and go ice-skating, try that new cupcake place, walk down the main shopping drag, and pop into art galleries and museums you’d normally skip. Think about all the things you’d want to see in a new place, and then see them at home.

 

This one’s easy: take pictures everywhere you go. You’ll discover little things you walk by every day that are beautiful or interesting in some new way.

Book a rejuvenating spa day, complete with a healthful menu for when you get back home. This is a great thing to do with one of those staycating friends — cucumber water, apples, and almonds make great spa-style snacks. 

Speaking of snacks… relish the fact that you are vacationing at home, and host a game or movie night, complete with fun and easy snacks. It can be a whole to-do, or you can take it easy and screen an old classic or play a card game everyone knows. Frankly, it doesn’t even have to be planned too far ahead. Just make sure you dust the board games off first, so you’re not left wondering what games you have and which pieces you’re missing at the last minute. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/Greencolander)

Planning fun home-bound activities can really add to a staycation itinerary — make s’mores or have an inside picnic on the floor, with special additions like delicious cheese from a gourmet food shop and fresh baguettes. You could even write menus beforehand and ask the kids (should you have any around) to help.

In the same vein, host a festive dinner party for family and fellow staycaters — everyone can contribute something, from table settings to wine choices and the evening's playlist. Finish the evening off by opening a special bottle of something you've been saving and, where applicable, drink it by the fire.

If you’re battling inclement weather, catch a double feature in the middle of the day and let popcorn be your appetizer before a warm, comforting lunch nearby.

Waking up somewhere different would feel very vacation-like, right? So book a one-night stay at your favorite hotel and take full advantage of the perks that come with it — use the spa, swim in the pool, order room service, watch in-room movies, and have cocktails in the lobby’s lounge. You’ll feel far away in no time (especially since you’re not likely to run into anyone you know).

Bake something. We’ve all read recipes online that we save to make another time. Staycations are that time — get out your flour and sugar, buy some more butter, and bake up a storm. (Photo courtesy of Veer/Zidi)

Hit the subway, or hop in the car, and take a daytrip. No matter where you are, there are always towns to explore within a short distance where you can try a local specialty and shop in new boutiques.

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