This article was updated for accuracy and relevance on December 24th, 2021.
Feeling a little cabin fever yet? In this new world of social distancing and the COVID 19 pandemic, most of us have been spending a lot more time at home than we used to.
For a lot of ultra-connected, always on-the-go professionals, the slowdown in the crazy pace of life turned out to be a moment to breathe and reconnect with home. But many weeks into the lockdown lifestyle, it’s understandable if you’re feeling a little antsy. (Okay, maybe more than a little.) It’s time to pack your travel bag for a vacation - except you can barely leave your house.
Can’t change your scenery? Shift your mindset.
What to do on a staycation? First, don’t despair. When it comes down to it, a traditional vacation is more of a mindset than anything else. (Think about it - have you ever booked travel seeking adventure and relaxation, only to find yourself stuck in the same habits and headspace, checking your work email every 15 minutes, caught in a web of worries and to-do lists from home?)
Just as surely as a travel vacation can be ruined by the wrong approach, it’s totally possible to flip that script and experience your ordinary surroundings in a fresh way. It's time to find the perfect or fun for you and the girls.
What is a staycation at home, you ask? Well, here we offer the ultimate guide to creating a staycation (vacation at home) experience during social distancing - or anytime you need it - that can feel just as liberating, indulgent, eye-opening, and new as the most exotic vacation locale.
Read on for 10 of our favorite staycation ideas to inspire your next weekend getaway - but first, let’s talk about fun and romantic ideas for planning a staycation.
Essentials to make your staycation feel like a vacation
Yes, you heard right: planning. If your staycation is going to be a success, you’ve got to treat the planning for it just like you would if you were traveling, even though you’re not leaving town (or possibly even your home).
Planning is really where a vacation starts - when you start to fantasize about the new experiences you’ll have and look into what to do when you get to your destination. Planning lights up your imagination, builds anticipation - and also ensures you have all the info and practical stuff in place ahead of time so that you can minimize problems or interruptions later.
With a staycation, the planning can actually be more fun since you don’t have to worry as much about logistics (or expenses) and can focus more on creative activities that let you indulge, explore, reset and refresh.
Clear your calendar
Whatever specific staycation activities you choose, one crucial aspect of any staycation is planning for long blocks of time without any outside obligations or interruptions. This is half the magic of taking a trip - the luxury of time when we can turn off the typical worries and to-do’s and enjoy what we’re experiencing in the moment.
So take a couple days to get ready for a fun staycation, just like you would if you were preparing for a cross-country road trip or a flight to a city somewhere across the globe. Do the laundry before your staycation starts - not during it. Set an away message for your email. Take care of the dishes now, so you don’t have to stress about a pile awaiting you later. And plan to order meals out if that will help you have more time and mental space to relax.
Create a sanctuary space
A creative use of BÉIS travel luggage in beige combined with a candle and greenery set the tone for a perfect staycation sanctuary space.
Make a room in your home a sanctuary. Tidy it up and create the right atmosphere that takes into account all of your senses: soft, cozy throw blankets, scented candles - invigorating or calming, to match the mindset you want to cultivate.
Curate a soundtrack, or even opt for earplugs, if what you really want is quiet and your family/roommate/neighbors can’t be shushed. Consider moving in some houseplants from other rooms to create a green oasis.
Pack your bag
Finally, pack a bag with everything you’ll need so you can spend more of your time in the soothing space you’ve created - and no time rummaging in other parts of your house.
Select your wardrobe, opting for pieces that will make you feel great - whether that’s your sexiest drawers or your coziest, a cute dress, a chic loungewear set, or your most beloved bathrobe. Whether you’re planning a relaxing staycation, a fun staycation, a romantic or family event with others, or a solo staycation, this is a special time. Clothing is a powerful way of signifying that - even if no one else is watching.
Curating what you’ll use during this time and packing a bag of essentials with care and thought are rituals of travel. They set a tone that a journey is about to begin. So don’t be shy - get out your chic vintage luggage or that gorgeous weekender bag you adore and fill it with your favorite things. If your staycation involves a makeover, make your makeup playtime luxe and fun by loading your most adventurous shades into your makeup case. We’re living through strange, challenging times, and going out on a creative limb for self-care is totally called for when you’re feeling it.
What to do on your staycation
While a lot of staycation ideas you might find focus on exploring your city or getting together with friends, we’ve compiled some great pandemic-proof activities you can do while social distancing. Some focus on exploring your own interests since one silver lining to living under lockdown is the newfound time we have to invest in ourselves (something many of us haven’t had a moment for in ages). Other great staycation ideas are all about rediscovering what’s possible within the walls of your home when you give yourself permission to play.
10 Epic staycation ideas
1. The Try-Something-New Staycation
Have you always wanted to learn a style of dance? Whether it’s salsa, swing, or breakdancing, there are plenty of options for online lessons, both free and as part of a paid service (and some paid subscription classes are offering extended free trials now). If dance isn’t your thing, there’s also drawing, painting, yoga, bicycle maintenance, foreign languages, creative writing, juggling - you name it.
Pick a skill you have zero experience with and open your mind to a playful place - no judgment. We’re all craving novelty right now, and this is a great way to get it. Even if it’s something you never do again, a short immersion in something totally foreign is a sure way to put your mind in a new place. That’s well worth it (even if your cat is not impressed with your best effort at the robot).
2. The Great Outdoors Staycation
Moving your body in sunlight and green space is always a refreshing way to spend a day. If your bicycle has been collecting dust, now’s the perfect time to pump up the tires and head out for a spin. Cycling generally keeps you a good distance from others, letting you respect social distancing guidelines while also boosting your Vitamin D and energy levels.
Even a short ride or a walk can be an outdoor activity game-changer when you’ve been stuck inside too long, or when you’ve maxed out on screen time so much that your eyeballs ache. Couple a day trip of riding and walking with a picnic in any private outdoor space you have access to, whether that’s a balcony, porch, or backyard. Or throw an indoor picnic complete with a basket and blanket in your living room. Houseplants can add greenery for a park-like feel.
In the evening, get ready for your backyard camping experience with a bonfire. Tell ghost stories, roast marshmallows or a hot dog, and pull out your sleeping bag for the perfect at home family vacation. This can be a fun thing for a whole family or a staycation with the kiddos, but it also tops the list for summer staycation ideas for outdoorsy couples, since sharing a tent, and a little fright, can fuel some rustic romance.
3. The Bookworm Staycation
The pleasures of a beach vacation include sand and surf, no doubt, but in high contention with those joys for many people are long hours spent absorbed in a good book (perhaps alternating with some cat naps with that paperback splayed across their face).
If you’re a beach bookworm (or a bookworm in general), gather a stack of must-read novels and create a luxe atmosphere for inhaling them without distraction. Think a towel spread out on a backyard chaise lounge, with a throw blanket and some pillows nearby, plus a stockpile of your indulgent beverage of choice.
For social bookworms, plan to read a favorite passage aloud every night - or a whole short story, a few poems or a play - with whoever shares your home, or a similarly literary pal over a video call. (After many weeks spent in restricted routines, reading aloud together can be a great way to share an experience with friends and re-enliven the conversation.)
Recommended genres for this moment in history: science fiction, escapist humor and travelogues.
4. The Crafty Staycation
There are those grown-ups whose hip DIY home decor projects adorn Pinterest, inciting much envy. And then there are the rest of us, who haven’t done anything worthy of admiration with scissors or glue since we were 10. But remember how many craft projects you made as a kid - and how incredibly fun they were?
Turns out they’re just as fun even when you’re a fully grown, job-having, chore-doing adult. Maybe more fun since so much else we spend our time doing is a drag by comparison! (See: paying bills, vacuuming anything, reuniting socks into pairs every time we do the laundry).
The key to having fun with crafting as a grown-up is to put away the adult judgment and give yourself permission to have fun. Grab some sidewalk chalk at the pharmacy and add some inspirational poetry or butterflies to your sidewalk to cheer up your neighbors. Try origami - you can use your creations to make surprisingly simple Pinterest-worthy home decor later, like wall hangings or mobiles.
Craft projects are also go-to staycation ideas for kids - experiment with making the most aerodynamic paper plane with a family competition as motivation. Another fun, easy craft project for a family staycation activity when everything from the children’s museum to playgrounds are closed? Plaster your windows with colorful cut snowflakes, made by folding paper and making small cuts that create cool patterns once they’re unfolded. Paper fortune tellers are another quick craft project requiring minimal supplies that can be loads of fun with an adult sensibility (or kid-friendly if required).
5. The Gourmet Staycation
Remember dining out? That was a thing people used to do back in the old days. Some of us indulged so often in a nice meal out that we took the total luxury of that experience for granted: perusing a menu full of delights, having a server treat us like a VIP and ferry said delights to us as we sat, oh-so-leisurely, on a stylish patio or in a chic dining room, chatting with friends at distances much less than six feet apart so we could exchange the latest gossip over the din of other diners.
Searching for at home date night ideas? Look no further and bring the restaurant to your home. At least half the fun of an upscale restaurant experience is the atmosphere, and it’s totally possible to capture some of that at home. If you or your partner can whip up a gourmet feast, amazing! If not, find the fanciest restaurant offering takeout in your area. Go a tier or two up in price on your usual wine selection, or pair the ease of a fancy takeout meal with the most elaborate cocktails or mocktails you can muster. Then set the mood: low lighting, candles, a smooth soundtrack, and date-worthy style. And don’t forget dessert.
6. The Spa Staycation
A spa day is an ever-popular option for a solo staycation or one with a girlfriend or two. Since friends can’t visit right now, consider catching up with your closest gal pal while you each sip wine in a bubble bath at home. You can even have a virtual movie night with face masks. For couples, a bath together can make for a relaxing and romantic evening.
Tidy up the room, turn the lights down low, set out some candles, and put on a sultry playlist. Use a little essential oil in the tub for a more sensual experience (lavender is always a good choice). Pro tip: toss your fluffiest towels in the drier ahead of time so they’re warm when you get out. Then smooth some coconut oil or your favorite body lotion over your skin for a completely indulgent touch. Add in any skin care rituals you don’t usually have time for, like a mask, or a deep conditioning treatment for your hair.
7. The Neighborly Staycation
If you haven’t spoken to anyone face-to-face outside your own home for weeks, chatting with the people who live next door can seem super exciting all of a sudden - even if you barely know them. Since we’re spending so much time at home lately, you’re more likely to get a glimpse of your neighbors now than you used to. And chances are they’re just as excited by the prospect of friendly conversation with someone outside their own home as you are.
If you don’t already know your neighbors, now’s a great time to get acquainted (from a safe distance). Next time you catch someone’s eye in the yard or driveway, offer a friendly wave or hello and ask them how they’re coping in quarantine. Then invite them to meet you outside for a drink, set out lawn chairs six feet or more apart, and get to know each other. If it’s fun, consider setting up a regular neighbor night. Friendly connections with the people who live near you will enrich your life long after the pandemic has passed - and might help everyone keep their sanity through it.
8. The Experimental Salon Staycation
Many professionals who now find themselves working from home may be experiencing a rare chance to change up their look a bit more dramatically than usual (depending, of course, on how many Zoom meetings you’re attending these days and the cultural tenor of your office). In other words, it may be a great time to try out that mohawk, faux hawk, or day-glo pink hair dye you’ve perhaps fantasized about quietly for some time.
Unleash the rebellious teen you never were or the rock star you always wanted to be in a radical makeover staycation that leaves your look fit for a dystopian sci-fi flick. When life goes back to normal, and business casual again rules the day, you’ll have no regrets and maybe some great selfies from lockdown spring fashion season 2020.
9. The Deep Relaxation Staycation
If your nerves are fraying, opt for a deep relaxation staycation. Focus on restorative yoga, meditation, and self-massage for a day or a weekend-long retreat of soothing self-care for your body and mind. Hydrate with water infused with fresh veggies, fruits, and herbs, like orange, lemon, cucumber, strawberry, and mint.
If you’re new to yoga, restorative classes for beginners will focus on relaxing poses, stretching and breathing exercises that aren’t too challenging and move at a slower pace for a mindful, calming practice. Guided meditation using an app or recorded audio (there are plenty of free options online) is a great way to start for newbies to meditation practice. And gather a couple of tennis balls (and some foam rollers if you have them) to roll between your body and the floor or wall for an amazingly effective self-massage (again, check out free resources online if you’d like a guide).
10. The Romantic Getaway
One of the best romantic staycation ideas for couples is a bedroom makeover followed by some quality time together lounging in your redesigned space. But this definitely works for a solo staycation, too. A bedroom is ideally a cozy space meant to put you at ease - but since it’s also a place most of us store our clothes and get dressed in the morning, it can easily turn into a mess, with piles of laundry and other discarded items from your busy day.
It can really pay off in peace of mind and quality sleep to invest a little time every few months or once a year in taking a careful eye to your bedroom and doing a little something to upgrade it - whether that’s setting out some baskets to hold laundry that would otherwise be scattered everywhere, or adding some soft lighting and simple decor like string lights, pretty lamps or a nice art print.
Decluttering and adding design features that cultivate peace and relaxation, and maybe a little romance, are key. A little thoughtful rearranging of items you already own can go a long way toward creating a more sensual or peaceful space you look forward to spending time in with your beau or cozying up in yourself with a good book. Pair this idea with a great dinner and a movie to create a romantic staycation at home - and more cozy evenings to come since you’ll get to enjoy your bedroom upgrade afterward.
This might not be what you typically think of when you consider a , but it is the to reconnect.
If you're looking for a great staycation idea with your little ones, consider these:
- Take a virtual tour from home of somewhere you have never been or one of your favorite places
- Visit your local library or a local museum
- Head to a theme park or national park if you have one in your area
- Go on a food tour and give at least one new local restaurant a try
- Complete an escape room
- Play your favorite board game
- Spend a night at a nearby hotel
The Bottom Line
At BÉIS, we love to travel as much as you do (that’s the passion behind every one of our stylish, maximally functional bags, travel accessories, and even pet travel bags). But even in moments when we can’t stray too far from home, we believe it’s still possible to experience familiar surroundings with a traveler’s eyes. That’s the heart of any real journey. We hope these staycation activities and ideas inspire you.