After months of saving and planning, the moment you’ve been waiting for is finally here. The suitcases are packed. The mail has been stopped. The neighbors are watching the cat. Everyone is excited and you are on your way out the door to… nowhere. Many Americans have experienced this very scenario lately. They went through the fun, yet often tedious task of planning and saving for a vacation, only to have it ruined by the coronavirus pandemic.
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Wikipedia defines a “staycation” or “holistay” as a “period in which an individual or family stays home and participates in leisure activities within driving distance of their home and does not require overnight accommodations.” While this is a loose interpretation of the term, there are others. For example, in the UK, it is considered “a holiday spent in one's home country rather than abroad.” The term was added to the 2009 version of the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and has been growing in popularity for decades.
Staycations help alleviate some of the negative aspects of travel, as well. No more stress at the airport, dealing with jet-lag, layovers, long commutes, etc. They also help to stimulate the local economy. Instead of putting your money into a vacation destination you’re supporting local business and stimulating your own economy. For those worried about their carbon footprint, the carbon emissions associated with air travel are no longer an issue. Mother Earth thanks you.
There are no limits to the activities you can partake in during a staycation. Many take advantage of their outdoor space, using the backyard pool or going to visit local parks or beaches. Many choose to enlighten themselves during vacations and staycations are no exception. Visiting museums and national landmarks, when open, are a great way to have a staycation. While many things are temporarily closed during the coronavirus – such as national parks and many of the world’s most famous museums – there are ways in which you can enjoy these things from, via virtual tour and online guides. This is not only fun and entertaining, but an affordable way to enjoy your time at home alone or with family.
On the May 4th episode of Beyond Your Backyard NOW, Chloe Pantazi-Wolber, Senior Lifestyle Editor for INSIDER, joined me to discuss the idea of staycations. We spoke of the many definitions of "staycation" and she offered helpful tips for ways to enjoy a get-away without having to travel far.
Now, for some, a staycation pre-pandemic meant a day trip in your area. Maybe someplace within a 2 or 3 hour drive from your house. There are so many options to get away without breaking the budget or needing a week off from work. Once the coronavirus pandemic set in and we were forced to close down much of our regular lives, the definition of a staycation changed. Today’s staycation is more of a “stay home”-cation. While you can’t get out and enjoy a hands-on vacation, there are dozens of ways to make the most of your time in quarantine and take yourself on a trip around the world. All you need is an open mind (and a stable internet connection)!
Chloe detailed some of her favorite things to do during a quarantine staycation:
Travel Through Food and Drink – whether you cook a regional recipe or order take-out from an ethnic restaurant. You can take a cooking class with a real “Italian Nonna” thru AirBNB, cook pierogis and pretend you’re in Poland. Make mojito for those Havana nights.
Take A Cooking Master Class – Take a culinary class from a world-class chef in Paris. Learn how to grow grapes in your backyard and try your hand at wine making. There’s an endless amount you can learn while discovering new parts of the world remotely.
Watch Travel Movies - For the couch potato in you, rent a movie and be whisked away to a new destination without having to deal with airport security. Some of Chloe’s personal favorites are Under the Tuscan Sun” and “In Vienna”. I personally love watching the James Bond films which highlight destinations around the globe.
Read Travel Books – Whether they are actual travel guides which help you learn about a destination, or books with strong travel themes or foreign settings. There are many ways to mentally take a trip to a whole new world.
Theme Nights – Choose a region and eat, drink, dance, entertain, play, dress, etc. like they would there. It doesn’t have to be someplace you know well. Part of the fun in these theme nights is learning about new and exciting destinations.
Virtual Wine Tasting – Wineries from Napa to New Jersey are offering virtual wine events. Many will ship you bottles of their wines and then guide you through each one, just as if you were at the vineyard in person. Many distilleries are offering similar events if you prefer something a little stronger than wine.
Take an online museum tour - Tour the Palace of Versailles, the Egyptian pyramids, the Louvre – you would be shocked at the amount of virtual tours you can partake in.
Virtual Disney Experiences – The Walt Disney Company has done amazing things to satisfy stir-crazy kids from age 2 to 72. Tour the parks, learn how to make some of their signature theme park snacks like their world famous churros – take a virtual ride on Splash Mountain or go behind the scenes in the park – there are so many great options.
While these are all great suggestions – might I also suggest you watch one of Beyond Your Backyard’s amazing destinations in our extensive video library. There are an endless supply of videos which highlight everything from culinary, to sightseeing, to outdoor recreation – literally something for everyone. Check out all of our videos here…
INSIDER has written some really informative pieces with great staycation ideas on things you can do to feel like you're on vacation, the best travel films to binge on, how to experience Disney theme parks at home, and virtual ways to travel while under self-quarantine.
For even more great information and ideas on staycations check out these great articles... NYTIMES - BUSINESS INSIDER - GOOD HOUSEKEEPING
I am on a mission to get you traveling more often. As the host of the Emmy award- winning, nationally syndicated television television for PBS and the Create channel, "Beyond Your Backyard," I travel (on average) 25 weeks per year. I am very grateful for the opportunity to meet cool people, experience new places, eat delicious food and work with the best production crew in the world. Hopefully, through this blog, you will join me on my travels and be reminded just how exciting it is to be alive!