A vast desert in Bolivia, a mighty mountainous landscape in Chili, colorful neighborhoods in Colombia. An adventurous scooter tour through Vietnam or a rooftop bar with swimming pool in Malaysia. Almost every week social media serves me the beautiful pictures of former classmates or other acquaintances, spending their winter on backpack trips all over the world. While I’m watching the cold wet snow outside, putting on the heating inside and thinking about the best staycation tips for this article, they are eating street food in Chiang Mai, enjoying the hospitality of Vietnamese or spending the night in a desert in South America.
It gives me itchy feet. Itchy feet that never were or will be completely gone. My wish to travel is always present and my list with destinations is still very long. I feel a smile on my face when I think back to a couple of years back when my wanderlust was born. Then I was the lucky one to be travelling South East Asia for four months, without a plan and with a fairly unlimited budget. But how different times are now: graduated but still without a job. Renting an own apartment and a nearly empty savings accounts. Travelling is just not going to be possible for a while.
Planning a Holiday at Home? Use these Five Staycation Tips
But I refuse to be sad about it. I dare to trust the future will make backpacking possible again. And until that moment, I can see the benefits of limiting myself to my own country. Here, there are enough things to do and experience too. Moreover, celebrating the holidays close to home offers a form of relaxation that a city trip, road trip or a holiday by plane aren’t offering: no trouble, no hurrying, no boring car rides, no super saturation of stimuli. Celebrating the holidays in your own country is actually quite pleasurable!
So what are you supposed to do when celebrating holidays in your own country? Enough options, enough possibilities: I’m giving you five tips for a staycation, a.k.a. spending your holiday “at home”.
1. Go cycling!
By car or train: these are the means of transport that we often think of first when planning an holiday in our own country. But for most of us, a perfect means of transportation is stalled in the shed: the bicycle! I am a real fan of cycling during holidays. It’s nice to spend time outdoors; it’s active, it’s simple. Moreover, it gives you all the flexibility to stop for a while, stay somewhere longer or have a picnic at a nice spot.
I once read that our minds seem to move at a maximum of about 25 kilometers per hour. So, mentally, we can’t really keep up with the pace of driving or flying.
Taking Some Mental Distance
And what’s also great: cycling offers a perfect speed of travel. I once read somewhere that our minds only seem to move at about 25 kilometers per hour. So, mentally, we can’t really keep up with the pace of driving or flying. Even though you can physically be already in another country after a couple of hours driving, our minds are still lingering at home or at work, thinking about all the fuss and worries you tried to leave behind. Taking a distance mentally … it simply takes time.
Cycling works very well in that respect. It has a kind of meditative effect on the mind. For me, cycling is one of the few activities in which I can be in the here and now for hours on end: quiet, relaxed and yet alert to what is happening around me. As far as I am concerned, it is the perfect balance between fast and slow: fast enough to create a bit of variety in the landscapes you see, slow enough to enjoy the landscapes with full attention and to see beautiful details that you would have overlooked when traveling by car or train. Perfect for a relaxed yet active holiday.
2. Rediscover your Hometown
If you live in a somewhat larger place, like me, you will notice (when paying close enough attention) that a city will never stay the same. There is a constant shift in shops, businesses, restaurants and even activities organized in the city. There will always be something new to discover in your own hometown. One of the easiest tips for a staycation is to try being a tourist in your own city. So make a list of cafes that you have always wanted to try and find out which museums your town hides of which you didn’t even know their existence. Or book a tour at the tourist office.
I promise that you will get to know your own city from a completely different angle: there are always stories and facts you did not know. When you combine a few nice things (guided tour, lunch in a never-tried café, movie in the cinema or a visit to a museum) you will have a super fun day full of holiday vibes.
3. Let Yourself be Guided!
If you live in the Netherlands: there are still enough cities you should visit sometime. Besides Amsterdam, Utrecht and Rotterdam, there are in fact enough smaller and lesser known cities to marvel at and wander around in. Have you ever been to Dordrecht, Haarlem, Breda, Zutphen, Gouda or Zierikzee? Exactly, enough to choose!
If you do not live in the Netherlands: there will be enough cities in your country that you’ve never visited before. These staycation tips work for wherever you live, so look around a little and don’t forget to pay attention to some smaller places that might be just as interesting as the bigger cities.
Once you have chosen a city, there are enough travel blogs and city guides to tell you where to find the hotspots. And with a travel planner or navigation app you will also come up with a convenient route very quickly.
Link Up with the Locals
But there is still a much cooler option to get to know cities in one’s own country: let someone else guide you! Locals often know their own city best and know exactly the most beautiful places, the nicest coffee houses and the coolest activities. You cannot experience any city in such a unique way. Nope, your travel guide or list of hotspots won’t ever be able to compete with that.
Locals often know their own city best. They know where to find the most beautiful places, the nicest coffee houses and the coolest activities. Your travel guide can’t compete with that.
And: how nice is it to be shown around by someone who is enthusiastic about where he/she lives? Traveling is cool, but in contact with people, every destination gets a lot more meaning. So put the question on your social media account or ask someone you know (that lives in the city you would like to visit) if he/she wants to show you around. Success guaranteed!
4. Don’t Make Plans
What is the difference between your daily life and your life during holidays? For me, it’s to have nothing planned and nothing on my to-do-list. Just having the opportunity to see how the day will unfold. So, do you want to create that ultimate holiday feeling in your own country? This is one of the easiest, but most important staycation tips: make sure you wake up without a fixed plan for the day in your head.
Pay attention to what you feel like doing moment by moment. What ideas come to mind, or what kind of plans does somebody else come up with? The nicest things often arise spontaneously. In addition, we have enough to-do’s in everyday life and it can also simply be wonderful to have a day without having to do anything, whether you end up having a day full of fun things or spending a day in pajamas on the couch.
5. Enjoy the Little Things
When I look back, I always loved the camping holidays with my parents. And the things that I liked best were simply driving around the go-kart, picking blackberries, reading books in a camping chair, or playing in the swimming pool for hours. Children can show us that the smallest things can be the most fun on vacation.
Going to the market, buying fresh vegetables and preparing a delicious meal. Picking cherries, making a wreath of daisies. Finally taking the time to draw again. Spending hours on word search puzzles in the sun. Reading. Relaxed days with small, nice things can evoke a huge holiday feeling. So forget the grand, and enjoy the little things!
My name is Marijke. I am impassioned by the small everyday elements of beauty and humor. I express my wonder at the world by regularly inventing new creative projects. I travel, photograph, write, play the piano and guitar, sing, make envelopes and bound books, and find new hobbies every so often.