The girls have a few days off from school this week, giving us a midwinter four-day weekend that I’m determined not to waste. While I’d love to be living it up at a resort with an indoor waterpark, we just couldn’t swing it this break, so it’s Staycation time, baby!

Good thing I really really rock at Staycationing.

And I’m humble too. 😉

(Staycations, if you aren’t familiar with the term – are made up of vacation-like fun you have from the comfort of your own home: day trips, lounging by the community pool, popcorn and movies in your own living room – that sort of thing.)

Seriously though, Staycations can be so much fun, and day trips are totally my jam. If you’ve hung around here for awhile you might know this – I’ve written about it before once or twice.


There are so many things to LOVE about Staycations:


  • They can save you a ton of money.
  • They’re a fantastic way to have more adventure in your life.
  • Sleeping in your own bed. (<—- this is probably my favorite!)
  • NOT having to pack/unpack, make major arrangements for pets and house-sitting.
  • All the comforts of home – literally.

Of course, these things can just as easily ruin a perfectly good Staycation too.


It can be hard to truly relax when you’re surrounded by laundry and dishes and the chaos of everyday life.

The best thing about getting away, of course, is actually Getting. Away. Amiright?

Room service, housekeeping, and relaxing vibes all come to mind – not something you’ll experience on your average Staycation. But just because your recreation is home-based, doesn’t mean you can’t have a truly wonderful, relaxing time. It’s not rocket science, but it doesn’t usually just happen, either.

A well planned Staycation is a work of art.


As I was planning our current non-getaway (on a fairly tight budget, to be honest) I realized that there are a few things that make a Staycation just So. Much. Better. The best thing? The difference between a Staycation that’s just so-so, and one that’s truly great, is mostly made in the planning.

Here’s how to rock your Staycation like a pro:

Know what floats your boat.


While I might dream of days without having to cook or wash dishes, having extra time to make over-the-top gourmet meals might be your form of ultimate relaxation.

Before you plan a single thing, think about how you want this Staycation to make you (and your family) feel. 


Do you want to feel energized and refreshed from hiking and outdoor play or do you crave time to read or binge watch your favorite TV series? Are you looking for time to connect with your people or is time for solitude and reflection what you really need? Will you need to work in some productivity to feel truly relaxed or do you need to completely unwind from any type of work? What things have you been meaning to do more often, but just don’t seem to get around to? (I’m looking at you, board games!)

Make a list of the things that would make your Staycation feel amazing.


Here are a few of mine:

  • Sleeping in.
  • At least one good day trip that gets us out of the house and doing something fun.
  • Time to lounge and get totally lost in a good novel.
  • Experiencing something new/fun with my kids.
  • Heart to heart conversations with my husband over coffee (no kids interrupting).
  • Not having to cook or clean up for at least a good meal or two.
  • Really yummy food and special snacks.

Once you’ve made your list, look for ways to practically guarantee they’ll happen.


I mean, I can’t be 100% sure I’ll get to sleep in every day of our Staycation. But I can make a point not to schedule any activities that require an alarm clock, set my kids up with an easy breakfast, and hope for the best. (I’ve not slept in past 8 since my oldest was born – over eight years – so perspective, people!) But making room to sleep in helps me feel more relaxed, so I make room.

Also, at least for our family (and probably yours)

Food is an essential part of a great Staycation.


My best bet is always to try for a blend of old favorites and out of the ordinary snacks and meals. Going out to eat can get really expensive, so when the budget is tight we’ll eat at home and then go out for dessert, or pick a restaurant where we don’t have to tip. We eat pretty simply for breakfast most days, so picking up donuts or throwing together french toast and berries can make things feel really special.

Try not to cook all the things, unless that’s your fave.


Especially if you have kids, stock up on some easy crowd-pleasers. Use paper plates and napkins and line pans with parchment paper to make cleanup easy. Take turns with meal prep if you can. Stock up on lots of snacks and easy fixings, and don’t be afraid to let your people fend for themselves.


Prep for your Staycation like you’re really leaving.


I know, one of the perks is that you don’t actually have to pack. But trust me on this – there’s nothing better than starting out your time with a full fridge, clean clothes, and a plan in place for what to do with your time. Do the laundry. Hit the store. Make the list. You won’t regret it.

On the same note, make a plan for what you’re NOT going to do during your Staycation.


For example, even though I want my family to have a fantastic time over the next few days, I’m not going to wait on them hand and foot. There are going to be times where I’m going to put on headphones, write a blog post (for fun!) and basically ignore them for an hour or two. I’m also not doing extra cleaning or organizing this weekend, even though it’s tempting, because I’m making room to actually relax. We’re not spending our long weekend at a waterpark resort because the relaxation would never outweigh the financial stress it would cause. And I’m not overfilling our time with activities, because for me that’s not relaxing at all.


Planning is the secret sauce to any great Staycation, but what will really determine how much fun you have is mindset. 


Your Staycation doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.


Things won’t go as planned. Kids will be sick or cranky. The new restaurant you visit might be a total flop. But even if it doesn’t go as planned, you can still choose to have fun, rest and relax where you can, and make amazing memories.

And that, my friends, is what it’s all about.

Happy Staycationing!

— Jamie


PS. What makes a Staycation great for you? Any tips to add? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

How to (Really) Rock your Staycation: Planning Non-Getaways like a Pro
Jamie Siebens

Jamie writes about living intentionally and finding beauty and perspective in the adventures of everyday life. When she’s not writing, she’s living her own adventures – working full time at an ER registration desk, parenting two spicy girls, and collaborating with her husband on the remodel of a former one-room schoolhouse on their homestead in rural Wisconsin.

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