Staycation Your Way to a Happier Life

Aditi Shekar
June 30th, 2019 | 4 minutes
Staycation Your Way to a Happier Life
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Life is so damn busy that the idea of planning a vacation can feel like a chore rather than an escape. And given that my husband and I grew up all over the world, traveling far and away isn’t always as exciting as it once was (I know, I know, this is my tiny 🎻).

Because we’ve always lived in major cities, we’ve been lucky to have access to a ton of experiences around us. BUT with the total lack of time or energy (or both), we found ourselves staying in and watching Netflix more than is healthy we’d like.

A few years ago, we decided to try experimenting with taking “mini staycations”. We’d take an extra day off near a weekend, and go do all the things we always wanted to do but never had the time to do. We went to museums, restaurants, beaches, secret subway stops, mountain tops, hikes, and even skydiving. Almost instantly, we felt less stress around planning the trips and less guilt about being away from work or the dogs. To top it off, we were saving SO MUCH MONEY on lodging and travel by just staying put.

As the years went by, we found ourselves doing it more - taking mini-staycations every 2 months rather than twice a year. We’d still travel for major holidays but spent those with family whom we didn’t get to see often. To date, Dalmar and I “staycate” a few times a year, and it’s easy to come up with ideas for that staycation now that we live in California.

Why am I telling you all this? Because our secrets are your secrets. And staycations are an easy, cheap and low-stress way to build towards a happier relationship. To help you staycate to your heart's desires, here are my top three tips on staycating. If you think I missed something - tweet at me and help me get my facts straight.

TIP 1: Have a staycation plan jar.

The key to a great staycation is a great plan. But since I hate planning under pressure, we created a plan jar that we’d drop suggestions into through the year. Everytime a friend or a colleague mentioned what fun thing they’d done that weekend, we’d write it down and put it into the plan jar. That way, when we picked a weekend to staycate and needed some ideas for a staycation, Dalmar and I would pull out the jar and go through the jar to build a plan. If you need a little fuel in your tank, these city/adventures guides here, here and here will help find other staycation ideas. And for those of you don’t do pen and paper, you can use a shared digital note to keep track of your plans.

TIP 2: Don’t overdo it.

The second secret to a perfect staycation is not trying to do too much (unless that’s what you prefer). I’d recommend planning 2-3 things per day to give yourselves time between each activity. So if you discover something special or want to linger at a specific spot, you have the flexibility to do so. And because you’re saving money while you staycate, your plans can involve extra drinks, fancier meals or extra snacks along the way. One of my favorite staycations was a bakery tour across San Francisco where we ate more sugar than a human ever should.

TIP 3: Take that extra day off.

It’s easy to conflate staycations with week-ending. But there’s something psychologically different about being off while everyone is working versus just planning a fun weekend. My personal drag on weekends is that just when you’re finally relaxed, it’s Sunday morning and you’re already mentally preparing for the week. Taking an extra day (or two) off makes a world of a difference. To get the most of our staycations, we plan around long weekends that we can easily turn into four-day weekends in a snap. The extra time and the shortened work week gives me the same happiness boost that a regular vacation brings on.

So if you’re looking for ways to optimize your life, while also optimizing your wallet, try a mini-staycation. And if you end up taking any of this advice, I want to hear about it.

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