Just for Fun

3 summer staycation ideas that won’t blow your budget

Joseph Patterson | May 23, 2019
There’s nothing more nostalgic than summertime. It’s the season of play. Of popsicles by the pool and camping trips to favorite spots. For some, it’s the season of travel, whether that be road trips to national parks and family reunions or overseas destinations. Summer, at its core, is the season of adventure. But not everyone can or even wants to hit the road during the warmest months of the year. For some, summer is a time best celebrated with memories made closer to home. TSheets by QuickBooks recently surveyed 1,067 working Americans to find out how they prefer to spend their time off. Surprising, perhaps, was that 71% of survey takers had embarked on a “staycation” in the last year, as opposed to just 25% who said they hadn’t. What’s more, 24% of survey-takers said their biggest vacation in the last year was the staycation they took at home. So in the spirit of celebrating the less-celebrated staycation, here are three homebound summer activities sure to inspire adventure and memories right in your own backyard. 

1. Host a home spa

If you’re in the mood for a little R&R, your staycation might be best spent in pampering mode. Book yourself an afternoon at the spa or, even better, bring the spa to you. Home spas can be as thorough or as simple as you’d like. For a full-body treatment, start with an aromatherapy bath, complete with lavender oil for relaxation and rosemary for destressing. While you’re at it, pour yourself a glass of cucumber or lemon water. Not only will this fresh concoction keep you hydrated, but leftover cucumber slices make for delicious snacks. And speaking of cucumbers, don’t forget the spa-essential facial. Start with a gentle face wash, followed by a sugar scrub to remove any dead skin. Don’t have a favorite sugar scrub on hand? Make a batch using ingredients you likely have in your pantry. Once your skin is sufficiently exfoliated, apply your face mask and turn on a little mood music, so your ears are as relaxed as those cucumber-covered eyes. Again, store-bought products are not needed. Homemade masks are easy and cost-effective. Finally, keep the home spa staycation going with an activity that soothes your soul. It’s all well and good to treat your skin to something sweet, but too often, we neglect what’s under the surface. Curl up in bed with a good book. Take some time to journal about your year or day. Or make a list of the goals you’d like to accomplish over the next few months.  

2. Recreate the World’s Fair

Staycations don’t have to mean relaxation, and for families with kids, chances are good that R&R would be tough to come by anyway. Stave off the choruses of “I’m bored” with a staycation that incorporates innovation, with a twist. In 1851, London hosted the first World’s Fair—an exhibition of the most dazzling technologies and inventions of the time. Crazy enough, one of the fair’s showstoppers was an early fax machine, along with the largest known diamond and a highly advanced telescope. Many people wrongly equate the World’s Fair to a circus. But despite the fact that the 1893 fair included the world’s first Ferris wheel, the event is actually more closely tied to innovation, art, and engineering. A world-class science fair, if you will. This summer, consider starting a new tradition by hosting your own staycation world’s fair: an opportunity to design, build, and share new inventions and creations as a family. Here at Intuit, employees go through something called “Design for Delight” (D4D) training. We learn how to take an idea, refine it, collect feedback, and revise it again until it’s ready to present. In 2018, one of our teammates, David Murray, gave a TEDx talk on how he applied his D4D training at home to help his children create something magnificent. His talk reminds us all that we can do something similar. Whether you apply this D4D strategy or not, summer is a great time for stretching imaginations and learning together. Best of all, when kids continue to grow over their break, they’re better prepared to hit the ground running at school come fall.  

3. Bring your travels home

If the thought of a world’s fair is giving you the travel bug, keep in mind no staycation has to be strictly domestic. Maybe this summer isn’t the best time to voyage overseas, but you can still bring part of that adventure back home with a little imagination and research. Live Science defines culture as “the characteristics and knowledge of a particular group of people, encompassing language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music, and arts.” Going by that definition, a cultural staycation should cover those six main parts. Say you’re interested in someday visiting Japan. Depending on how long your staycation is, you might challenge yourself to learn a certain number of Japanese words or phrases. Catch a Japanese film with subtitles in your first language, and let the sounds of the words wash over you. Check out some books or articles from your local library to study up on the major religions of the place you’d like to see. Japanese people, for instance, largely follow Shinto and Buddhism. Not sure what Shinto entails? Even more reason to read up on the subject! Food is perhaps the most fun of the six cultural elements, particularly if you’re someone who enjoys the culinary arts. Depending on the culture you’re exploring, you may be able to eat out somewhere that can treat you to dishes made by the pros. Otherwise, try making a recipe or two at home. The InternationalFoodShop has all the ingredients you’ll need, including frozen or refrigerated, and can ship them straight to your door. Social habits can be tougher to pick up. Consider picking up a book—fiction or nonfiction—written by someone from the place you’re studying. Often, habits and social nuances come through in descriptions of how a character moves, talks, or interacts with the world around them. Music might seem easy at first, but consider how diverse music tastes are here in the U.S. A country’s musical stylings will vary from generation to generation, region to region. You might be able to get some sense for what’s popular with a quick search of the top 100 songs in a given place. If not, try sources like iTunes, billboard.com, or Spotify. Lastly, art can mean everything from paintings to dance to storytelling. Treat yourself to a film that takes place in that country or by a director from that country. Visit local art museums if they have exhibits with artifacts from that place. Or step into the shoes of an artist from this country you love and try recreating one of their works, be it a drawing, sculpture, or something else. Often, hands-on experiences can provide better opportunities for understanding and empathy than simply viewing a piece already in existence.  

Make your staycation a playcation

There’s a lot to love about staycations: You can set your own schedule. If you forget something, it’s not a big deal. And best of all, your staycation can be anything you want it to be. Restful, imaginative, or eye-opening, staycations are just as good for making memories as any far-from-home excursion. So long as the time you spend is focused on the quality of the experience, there’s no reason your staycation can’t be the adventure you always wanted.
A little about Joseph Patterson

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