The term “staycation” refers to someone who decides to take off time from work to enjoy life at home. Although the concept is an old one, it’s getting more popular due to a poor economy and travel hassles.

My recent travel plans to several countries in Europe never panned out but I decided to use the time I had already taken off and spend it at home. Over the last two weeks I’ve learned what to do – and more importantly what not to do on a staycation.

  • Don’t Plan Anything – Make a rudimentary daily plan and outline what it is you want to accomplish each day. For me it was usually, go run, go to the pool, etc. and it took about 5-10 minutes to schedule out. It shouldn’t take longer than that, remember you are on vacation.
  • Watch TV – Sitting in front of the television for hours might be relaxation for some, but it turns your staycation into a regular night off from work. This is where planning comes in, poor (or no) planning will just have you sitting in front of the TV for a week or two which won’t be very fulfilling when you go back to work.
  • Missing Things Right Under Your Nose – A week before you plan to take a staycation, keep your eyes open for events, parks, and other attractions right around your own town. Jot them down somewhere are get a chance to visit close places and events you can go to during the day and miss the crowds.
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  • Get Nothing Done – One of the advantages of a staycation is that you can actually get some of the nagging chores, errands, and projects done and not have them waiting for you at the end of your time off. I’d recommend spending about 15% of your total time off knocking some things off of your long standing to-do list.
  • Eating Out The Entire Time – One of the advantages of a staycation is that it can be cheaper than actually going somewhere. With the extra time you can save a lot of money by grocery shopping and cooking meals for yourself.
  • It’s healthier, you can experiment with new recipes, and you can try shopping at ethnic stores you’ve never been to. I recently discovered a German grocery store close by and have been able to experience and cook many new dishes (and eat lots of good chocolate).
  • Answering the Door – Before the past 2 weeks, I never knew how many weirdos, salespeople, and Mormons knocked on my house door during the day – but it’s a lot! Though this varies, I’d recommend simply not opening the door – these people are annoying and waste your precious vacation time off. (By the way, if they think or know that you are home they will ring the doorbell for what seems like forever, just keep ignoring it).
  • Checking Your Phone/Email Constantly – Designate only 2 or 3 times during the day to check your cell phone and email and limit this time to 15 minutes each. Also, allow yourself the “freedom” to skip a check – keep in mind that if you were out of town you might be a week or two without contact – during a staycation you can at least be texting, cell, email available a few times a day.
  • This was one of the hardest things for me to do (you may have noticed if you didn’t get my usual instant response to an email).
  • Spend It Alone – I was lucky enough to have my wife with me during the past 2 weeks, but if you aren’t staycationing with someone else there are several good alternatives. Call your friends who work odd hours or may be off during the day, visit an old friend during their lunch break, or volunteer at a local community center.
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Overall I enjoyed the advantages a staycation has over a traditional vacation. I was able to get many things done around the house that I had been planning for months, but still made it a priority to relax. (It was also great to avoid rush hour traffic for 2 weeks).

You need at least a week or two to turn a regular sick day into a staycation so accumulate your vacation time wisely. As with any trip make sure that you create a simple vacation budget and stick to it since it’s easy to overspend no matter where you travel (or don’t).

[photo by: scragz]