GAINESVILLE, Ga. (BP)–The term “staycation” means staying at home for vacation. This idea has become more popular in the last few years as travel costs have increased and disposable income has decreased due to job losses and other financial hardships. Instead of spending lots of time, money and energy in traveling to another area, many people are finding fun and relaxation close to home.
There are many benefits to a staycation, the most obvious being the money saved. You spend no money on plane tickets or hotels and much less money on gasoline and food when you vacation at home or near home.
Yet, vacationing at home is not just for those who are watching every penny. An article on CNN.com gave the example of a man who had spent a lot of money and time to create a relaxing backyard at his home. So he decided to stay home on vacation and enjoy the fruits of his labor. The same article also cited a woman who had moved to a new city but never had time to explore it. Instead of traveling elsewhere on vacation, she stayed home and enjoyed her new city and the sights it had to offer.
Another less obvious advantage of the staycation is less stress. How many times do you hear people say that they need a vacation to recover from their vacation? Traveling is stressful. And traveling with children is even more stressful, whether you are fighting the crowds at the airport or fighting the battle of boredom in the backseat of the car.
To get the most out of your staycation, be sure to plan ahead. Set a budget just as you would for a normal vacation. Of course, your budget will be much less since you are saving money by staying home, but you still need to set a budget and stick to it. It would be easy to go overboard and overspend, and that defeats the purpose.
Be specific about your budget for activities, eating out, and travel costs (gas). Also, budget for shopping if you decide to explore local shops.
Make a list of things you want to do. Don’t think that you’ll do whatever comes along. You’ll likely get nothing done and feel like you’ve wasted your time off. Be realistic about what you can do in a day, and be sure to schedule some down time so that you don’t go back to work more tired than when you left.
DECIDE ON ACTIVITIES
Decide on the purpose of your time off. Do you want to spend time with family and friends? If so, plan a backyard barbecue and invite them over. Or plan trips with your children that they will enjoy, such as a day at a water park or amusement park.
If your purpose is to relax, plan down time. But don’t just sit in the house all day and watch television. Too much down time can zap you of energy as well. Grab a book and head to the local park to read. Pack a picnic lunch. Or flip through issues of your favorite magazine while relaxing at the neighborhood pool.
Your purpose can also be to explore new things, just as you would be doing if you went away for vacation. Visit your local library or bookstore and find a travel book for your area. Visit museums and historical sites, and explore the quaint shops in a small downtown square. Spend the day at a local state park and go hiking, bicycling, fishing or sailing. Go to an outdoor concert or take in a local ballgame.
THINGS TO AVOID
There are also things to avoid during a staycation:
— Do not do things you would normally do, such as running errands. Clean the house before you begin your vacation time so that you will not be tempted to spend time cleaning when you are supposed to be vacationing.
— Do not check in with work. Behave just as you would if you were traveling far away for your vacation. Don’t check your e-mail or voicemails. Don’t call in to see how things are going.
— Do not work on projects around the house, such as cleaning out the garage or organizing closets. This is supposed to be a relaxing time, a true vacation.
And finally, keep in mind that by saving money on vacation this year, chances are that you can save up money for next year and plan a nicer, longer vacation to a location you’ve always wanted to visit.
Howard Dayton is co-founder of Crown Financial Ministries. Dayton and the late Larry Burkett joined forces in 2000 when Crown Ministries, led by Dayton, merged with Christian Financial Concepts, led by Burkett. The new organization became Crown Financial Ministries, on the web at www.crown.org.