By Nora Brunner
Originally published in Skin Deep, January/February 2009.
If you are resolving to take better care of yourself in the coming year but find the prospect of a full-blown vacation too expensive, consider taking the “bloom-where-you-are-planted” approach and stay home.
Traditionally, time off has meant time away, but economics and a new appreciation for simplicity are creating a trend in home-based vacations. This doesn’t mean moping around the house wishing you were in Paris, but instead making an intentional effort to rejuvenate yourself without spending a bundle to travel. Rule one, however, is no chores. Experts say having a strong game plan is key to a successful home vacation. During your time off, it’s absolutely key to change your routine and, ideally, lose track of time the way you do on faraway trips.
Be deliberate about unplugging, experts advise. As much as possible, dispense with cell phones, e-mail, and pagers, and limit time-wasting television and online games. It’s OK to be cagey about how you share your plans in order to avoid unwanted intrusions. If you mention at work or to family and friends that you’re sticking close to home, set boundaries for calls and visits.
Find out about local attractions you haven’t taken advantage of, possibly splurging on a short stay at a nearby exclusive hotel. While this may sound expensive, you are already way ahead budget-wise by skipping the long-distance airfare and hotel. Less expensive options are trying out that Pilates class, visiting a ceramic-painting studio, hauling out board games and movies for family time, building a snowman, or getting outside with your camera. In warmer weather, some families camp out in the backyard or enjoy bicycle outings.
Get Up and Go
Experts also recommend having someone clean your house before and after your staycation so you aren’t tempted to do it yourself. If you hate to cook or don’t want to be bothered, consider carryout or eating out, or have a few meals delivered by a gourmet meal service. If you love to cook and find it relaxing, this may be your opportunity to try out that new recipe, perhaps involving the whole family in preparing the special meal. Fresh flowers on the table and using good dishes might make the occasion more fun. Everyone who can help clean up should do so.
Choose plenty of activities and get out and do things. There are free and low-cost activities in your area and a little Internet research may turn up pleasant surprises. Many hotels and tourist businesses are offering discounts to make up for fewer out-of-town visitors.
While being intentional about planning your time, allow unstructured time for reading, daydreaming, and, in general, moving at a slower pace.
Consider a few ways to treat yourself to something that you usually don't. Book a wellness getaway to your local spa for a full day. Schedule a massage and add something new, like a scrub or a hot stone treatment. Make reservations at a nice restaurant that you don't visit frequently. These special touches can help make your staycation memorable.
Staycations have their critics and some see them as no vacation at all. Like anything else, the effort and imagination you use to plan your fun is essential, whether your time is spent on Main Street or Hollywood Boulevard. While there may never be a substitute for broadening your horizons in other cultures or locations, with the right attitude, there’s no place like home.