Organizing a Staycation

    As the warm summer weather creeps up on us, I know we're all finding ways to enjoy time off while not being able to travel or enjoy it with others. As someone that's never been able to afford any trip that involves getting on a plane and going to another country, I can tell you that I've had to get pretty creative to make do while ensuring I always had an enjoyable vacation. And since I'm writing this as I prepare to enjoy the Victoria Day long weekend at home, I thought I'd share some tips on how I organize a staycation with limited options and using a limited budget. It's really what you make of it, but PLANNING this is honestly what makes it work within your home...

    For starters, you want to consider the common areas of your home that need some "sprucing up" in order to make it feel a bit different. In the days leading up to the staycation, I would do a lot of cleaning and tidying so that by the time I'm on vacation, I don't have any obligations lingering. I truly believe any vacation - at its core - is the freedom from your regular, everyday responsibilities, so you want to do everything to make it feel this way. Sure, you'll need to do dishes and tidy up after yourself during your time off, but as long as you're not looking at some chore that's awaiting your attention, then your mind is free to relax. And let's face it: whenever you work your butt off (in example of doing a thorough whole-house cleaning), you feel even more deserving and rewarding of your time off. This simple step sets you up to enjoy putting your feet up!

This may be how I spend some of my down time regularly...
But doing something different while on vacation is what changes the pace.

    Consider some cheap ways to also bring in some elements to make your home appear different. When I was still living in apartments, this was about finding & cleaning up some lounging chairs for the balcony and buying a cheap outdoor mat to plop down. Don't forget bug spray, a bug zapper, and sunscreen, especially if you're going to spend more time outside. Introducing more colour into your space - whether it be from "vacation items" you buy or by buying a bundle or two of flowers to put on tables - can work wonders if your space is small or feels lacking in being able to transform for this purpose. But the colour theme here also bleeds into my next point, which has to do with bringing the water to you if that's your true desire..

    I've only ever had the chance to enjoy swimming and canoeing in a lake during the couple of cottage vacations I took with friends, yet it's something I miss at home. So when we had to cut our last cottage vacation short on account of Teddy not being able to get comfortable, I decided to bring the water to the house. We bought a 6-foot inflatable pool for around $30 (get yourself an air pump if you buy something like this), which we laid out in the backyard and filled using the hose. It's nothing you can swim in, but just laying in this pool of water under the sun fulfilled the desire. When I only wanted my feet in the water or had limited space (like on a balcony), I had [an even cheaper] inflatable kiddie pool. These are just a couple of ideas, but the possibilities are endless if you give it more thought.

This was what one of our staycations looked like...
Just some chairs situated around a kiddie pool!

    But it goes without saying that one of the best parts of vacation is the food! Since I've become such a strict eater due to my past weight loss, I've always allowed myself to let go of that regime when I'm on vacation. Enjoying BBQ SEASON is a staple in our vacations, so we plan for exactly that. Rarely meals are made using a stove - but of course, it depends on what you're truly after. I tend to reserve items like potato chips (all things I used to eat freely but now limit / refrain from) for vacation times. I also wait to buy those "finer" foods (the stuff I don't buy often; like a cheese platter) for vacation. Make sure whatever you plan to do is both easy and excitable, so it adds to the fact that you're taking a break from your "regular" life.

    Since my home is technically half-workspace, half-living space, I have to be sure to completely sign off from my work. Being self-employed, I find it too easy to grab my laptop and work on something during the evenings and weekends - even when I'm sitting in the living room with my family watching TV. Regardless of your work situation, make sure there's no loose ends that could grab your attention while you're off. And if you're like us and have offices at home, completely shut down those computers and close the doors, if needed. Having a phone is enough for the possibility of something coming up - don't let your work try to distract you (or bum you out) at any point if it can be helped!

Some intense Battleship rounds while watching the playoffs in the background
(watching hockey is something we normally don't do either!).

    All of this leads me into my final point about creating the perfect staycation plan... and the bottom line is to do things you don't normally take time to do at home and keep to a different schedule. If it means taking a small trip somewhere in your community - whether to eat from a new restaurant, go for a hike or just see a conservation area near you - then plan for that. Doing anything new or different than your norm reinforces the realization that you're on vacation.. and brings new memories. As an example to share; my husband and I spend more time lounging outside, but we also further free ourselves from electronics by breaking out some of our board & card games. It may not sound like much, but it's very relaxing while still giving us time to socialize (and compete!) with each other over the games.

    We like to take this "complete chill" and no-electronics approach because we spend 60+ hours a week staring at one device or another.. and this may be some food for thought if you can relate. But it's not to rule out that you can (if you want) schedule a marathon of your favourite show or movies. Just be sure to take some time for other things so that you don't feel as though you spent your whole vacation just watching TV. Nothing is worse than feeling like you wasted any time on your vacation, so consider your plan with this thought in mind. And if kids are involved in the equation, consider some fun, crafty hands-on activities you can do as a family, in addition to outdoor activities that will tire them out.

Since we were fortunate enough to find a house with this, it's become one of the highlights on my staycations.
But hot tubs aren't just for winter - just set it to a lower temperature and it's perfect for Spring & Summer nights!

    Quickly; I want to share a DIY game idea that I used this past Christmas. Since we were all under a stay-at-home order here, but my husband's grandmother was living alone, we were allowed to have her over. But any holiday just isn't the same without a group of people to share it with... so I had to find a way to make it even more excitable.
Just simply searching for DIY family games on Google introduced me to Xmas Bingo - where you simply print bingo cards already randomized with holiday elements, and pick a movie to watch... and whoever see's and dabs off every item first won a box of chocolates (also repeated for the next round/movie). Drinking games are a plenty if that's a route you want to take.. but again, it leads back to just getting a little creative about how you spend your time. You just need to spark some ideas and search for them, because I guarantee there's dozens of DIY ideas to be found!

#staycation #vacationathomeideas #enjoyingtimeoffathome #empathconfessions

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