When the word “vacation” comes to mind, what do you think of? An afternoon on the beach, enjoying the sun and waves — or relaxing beside a resort pool with a frosty drink in hand, with no cloud (or worry) in sight? Maybe you dream of finally taking that cross-country road trip with your friends or jetting off on a European tour. 

Odds are, you probably don’t picture yourself spending a week at home. 

A staycation might seem like an odd concept at first listen. After all, why would you take off time from work just to stay home? Don’t you already do that on evenings and weekends? The short answer is yes — and no. 

A staycation isn’t about vegging out on your couch and scrolling through social media. Instead, a properly-planned staycation empowers you to take a sojourn from the demands of everyday life and enjoy a vacation-like experience without ever leaving home. Done right, it can provide you an invaluable opportunity to relax and pamper yourself at a fraction of the cost and in less time than a more conventional vacation would require. 

But you need to plan your staycation properly. Without proper forethought, your well-intentioned staycation will turn into a tedious, multi-day slog that will leave you counting down the hours until your scheduled return to work. 

Let’s talk about what you need to do to make this summer’s staycation rival a trip to any far-flung resort!

Budget for Your Staycation

Let’s get one point straight: a staycation is a vacation — and as such, you’ll need to spend some money to have a great time. As one writer put the matter in a post for AllianzTravel, “It’s hard to feel like you’re on vacation when you’re eating freezer-burned chicken fingers and leftover takeout.”

While you don’t want to spend too much money and blow the savings you had hoped to gain from forgoing a conventional vacation; you should set aside some money to fund your adventures at home. Think; if you were planning just a weekend trip, you would probably need to spend over a hundred dollars in hotel fees alone. How much further will that money go if your room (i.e., apartment) is already paid for? Put aside an amount that feels reasonable to you, and don’t begrudge yourself the expense!

Ask for (and Protect) Your Time Off

Sure, it’s easy to check your work email when you’re just a few steps away from your work computer — but you shouldn’t. Once you schedule your staycation, protect your time! Clear your schedule of your usual weekly responsibilities, and don’t fall into the habit of handling stressful workplace problems when you’re off the clock. This is your time to relax — so why ruin it with unnecessary stress? 

Schedule Yourself

The best way to avoid falling into couch-potato doldrums is to schedule yourself. Take a few moments to brainstorm what you want to do and when. Pencil yourself in for a nature walk; sign up for fun classes or all-day excursions. Take this opportunity to be a tourist in your home town and explore all of the places that you should have experienced as a local but, somehow, never had the time to do. That said, don’t overbook yourself! Leave some time to enjoy at-home relaxation and lazy mornings. 

The key to a proper staycation is to have just enough planned to make you feel engaged in your time off, but not enough to make you feel like you need a staycation to recover from your staycation. 

Indulge in Little Luxuries

Who says that you need to travel halfway across the world to enjoy fine cuisine and pampering? Make reservations at the best restaurants in town or, if you’re more minded to frugality, try cooking an expensive dinner at home. Mix up a few fun drinks; challenge yourself to take on a complex dessert recipe! Even if the final product doesn’t turn out exactly as you had expected, the experience will still be fun. 

Similarly, you can plan an at-home spa day that allows you to pamper yourself from the comfort of your apartment. Staycationers can quickly whip up DIY body scrubs or face masks out of pantry items. Commit to the day; wear a robe and treat yourself to a refreshing drink or fancy snack!

At heart, embarking on a staycation means doing whatever you feel you need to relax, break free of your usual routines, and re-energize yourself. If that means taking a day to be a couch potato or scrolling social media, by all means, potato away! But no matter what you decide to do, make sure you plan your week out beforehand to ensure that you make the most of your time “away.”