10 Staycation Ideas: Planning An Unforgettable Experience

High rates of inflation have many Americans rethinking the traditional vacation. The idea of shelling hundreds or even thousands of dollars on expensive flights, resorts, and gasoline can stress you out before leaving home. The good news? You don’t need to plan an elaborate getaway to get a little rest, relaxation, and recreation. 

If you’re considering a staycation this year, you are not alone. That’s why we’ve curated an awesome list of staycation ideas to help you plan an unforgettable experience. 

#1- Create a Staycation Plan

If you want the best staycation experience, plan ahead and create a loose itinerary. You don’t have to plan for every moment of the day, but having a list of things to do will help you get out of bed in the morning! When creating your list, think about the things you’ve always wanted to try around town. Maybe there’s a new Nepali restaurant that can challenge your palate in exciting ways. Perhaps there’s a museum you’ve been meaning to visit but have never gotten around to seeing. If there’s a resort nearby, see if there are day passes for local visitors. You never know what adventure lies right around the corner from home!

To avoid overloading your itinerary, select one activity per day. This will give you some structure to your staycation while still allowing time to sleep in and ease into each morning. If you’re a foodie, try structuring your plans around the foods you hope to eat. Brunch at your favorite café can give way to lunch by the pool and dinner out on the town. There’s no limit to what you might achieve in a week, so long as you’ve got a plan in place!

#2- Try Something New

It’s true what they say: variety is the spice of life. While doing your favorite things while on staycation can be relaxing, you may also want to mix things up a bit. You might be surprised at what new, exciting opportunities await you in your own backyard. Think about traditional vacation excursions you might do while abroad. Horseback riding, SCUBA diving, and ziplining adventures aren’t reserved just for tourists. Do some research to see if such activities are available nearby. Not big on excursions? Even trying a new restaurant can add some variety to your staycation. 

#3 – Throw a Party or Cookout

Eating great food and enjoying delicious drinks is one of the best parts of a vacation. It’s even better when friends can tag along. Consider channeling those vibes with your party or cookout for your next staycation. So, buy a few steaks for the grill, invite a few friends over, and get the party started! The best parties feel like a break from the mundane – like you’ve transported your friend group somewhere fabulous.

Embrace this idea by throwing a themed dinner party with an exotic menu and silly costumes. Or go formal and encourage people to dress to the nines before you serve a multi-course dinner. Either way, letting loose is easy when you’ve got great music, food, and company!

#4 – Host a Movie Night

If escapism is the goal for your staycation, there’s nothing like a movie night to transport you. Don’t just flop onto the couch like usual – staycation movie nights should be special. Select a movie, then create themed snacks to pair with your viewing. An outdoor movie night can be especially appealing in the summer months. Set up a projector in the backyard and toss a pool float or air mattress in front of the screen. Grab pillows and blankets and snuggle up to your sweetie for showtime. You’ll be transported under the stars without ever leaving your yard.

#5 – Glamping in Your Yard

Speaking of backyard fun, why not extend movie night to a full-on glamping experience? While glamping gear requires a little upfront investment, the supplies you gather can be reused for years. Grab a tent, some foam mattresses, and a hammock or two. Tiki torches or solar lamps add ambiance, while comfy camp chairs make relaxing a breeze.

Don’t forget your citronella candles – they’re a must for keeping the mosquitos at bay. Embrace all the fun of traditional camping: make smores, tell ghost stories, and stargaze. The best part? When you have to use the bathroom, there’s no gross outhouse with which to contend!

#6 – Explore Your Own City

How often do you get out and explore your own city on foot? If you’re like most Americans, the answer is probably rarely. While we may drive to destinations and be generally familiar with areas we pass through on our commutes, there are hidden gems around every corner. You have to know where to look!

For your next staycation, pick a neighborhood you’ve always found charming but want to know more about. Then grab your walking shoes and be ready to explore! Stop into cute cafes, read a book at the park, or peruse boutiques you stumble upon during your walk. You may find your new favorite place within your very own city!

#7 – Take a Day Trip

Day trips are the solution if you’re eager to get out of town without spending a ton of money. Lodging often eats up a huge chunk of your vacation budget. Knowing you’ll be sleeping at home in your own bed can free up some cash you might have otherwise had to spend on a hotel. 

Start by considering how far you’re willing to drive in a day on a road trip. For most people, that’s about two to three hours in total. Then, dig into Google Maps to see what’s within that driving range. If you’re eager to get off the beaten path, use Atlas Obscura for help finding unique, quirky destinations nearby. The world is truly your oyster – it’s just a matter of what you’re hoping to discover!

#8 – Schedule Time for Self-Care

If you’ve been eager to build in time for self-care but have struggled, a staycation is a perfect opportunity to reconnect with yourself. Start by turning off your cell phone. A digital detox – even for an hour or two – is a great way to get present, fast. Then, set an intention and meditate on it for a few minutes. It’s the best way to start your self-care staycation on the right foot. Not sure where to begin, exactly? Try a guided meditation that walks you through peaceful breathing exercises.

To up the ante of your self-care, stock up on healthy goodies to snack on during the week. Treat yourself to a visit to a fancy grocery store or the farmer’s market. You can even buy yourself flowers if you’re in the mood. Get a massage, take a yoga class, or read a book in the tub. Your self-care can look any way you want, as long as you focus on the present.

#9 – Stay at a Local Hotel or B&B

Leave your worries and your to-do lists behind this staycation. Head to a local hotel or bed and breakfast for true relaxation. Nothing beats the feeling of fresh white hotel sheets after a hot bath in a soaking tub. Order room service, watch trash television, and lounge around in a robe.

The experience is even more fun if there’s a hotel pool or spa. Lounge by the poolside and order a fruity drink delivered to your chair, or schedule a manicure and pedicure for the afternoon. Local hotels are true hidden gems – you’ll reap all the benefits of a traditional vacation without leaving town. 

#10 – Support Your Local Community

Many small businesses rely on income from tourism to stay afloat. Some couldn’t shoulder the financial impact of losing tourism dollars during the pandemic. If you hope to do some good during your staycation, consider ways to support your local community. Simply shopping, staying, and dining locally can help keep your favorite spots afloat.

Volunteering is another way you can give back during your staycation. This can be formal, like spending time at your child’s school or a homeless shelter, or informal, like picking up trash on the beach. Look around your community – plenty of opportunities to give back without going far.

Final Thoughts

Staycations are what you make of them. There’s nothing wrong with taking off work and kicking back on the couch. Binging a favorite show and ordering takeout can be relaxing – for a day or two. If you’re hoping to make the most of your staycation, try peppering in a few new experiences. You’ll create memories that last far beyond your return to the office and release more tension when you’re out and about, trying something new. 


Chelsea DeAngio
Chelsea DeAngio

Chelsea DeAngio is a freelance writer based in Greensboro, NC. Inspired by a rootless childhood as a Navy brat, she enjoys traveling every chance she gets. Pop culture often drives her trips. Whether channeling her inner Lady Mary at Highclere Castle in the UK or noshing on nachos at Showgirls filming locations in Vegas, Chelsea is always in search of a little silver screen glitz.