With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to affect most Americans, families’ normal summer vacation plans have been interrupted. During this difficult time, many families are considering staying home to avoid exposing anyone to the coronavirus or spending extra money on vacations.
That means most people won’t be traveling this year, and if you want to squeeze in some kind of vacation before Fall arrives, you’ll have to get creative. Plan a “staycation”, where you take a vacation while staying home.
Related Article: Ideas for Staycations
Staycation Ideas for 2020
Create a Special Place in Your Home
If you have a room that could use remodeling, an unfinished basement, or a back yard that could use a facelift, use your vacation fund to fix up a part of your home. Make this a place that you can go to when you want to get away from the stress of our current situation; make a bedroom a luxury getaway, or make your deck or patio an exotic spot with new plants, a water feature, or cover it with a pergola or canopy. An unfinished basement could become a craft room, movie lounge, or play room for the kids.
The idea should be to fill the gap left by not taking a true vacation, so the idea isn’t just to spend your time and money on home improvement. Spend half of your vacation time fixing up, painting, remodeling, etc., and the second half of the time relaxing and enjoying the new space you’ve created.
Plan a Family Movie Night
Don’t just pull up something on Netflix that looks good and watch like any other night. During your staycation, plan ahead, schedule your movie night in advance and make it a special occasion. Make popcorn, dim the lights, and have everyone shut off their cell phones. Create an atmosphere that feels like you’ve gone out to the movies and build anticipation leading up to it.
The prices for home projectors have come down to the point that many families could consider buying a micro-projector and watching a movie projected against a white wall or bedsheet. If the lighting conditions are right, you could consider taking the projector outside and creating a drive-in experience. Creating a home theatre with your own projector is more affordable than you’d expect!
If your night sky is dark enough, away from the light pollution of the city, you can head out at night and do some stargazing. If you have an area you can go to that is away from the city lights but still gets good cellular coverage, you can use a smartphone app to guide you through the night sky and help you identify the celestial bodies you can see.
Smartphone apps like Star Walk, Night Sky, SkyView, Solar Walk, and Star Rover will help you find constellations, planets, galaxies and more. Look in your smartphone’s app store for a stargazing app that looks interesting, and get away for a night. Even if you can’t get away during the pandemic, you can explore the cosmos without needing a telescope, compass or planetarium.
Have a Big Night with a Fancy Meal
You might not want to dine out during an outbreak, but you can still set aside one night of your vacation to plan a big, fancy dinner. Do some research into a food you have never tried, or cooking techniques that will be new to you. We all see Food Network cooking shows or YouTube videos from the Bon Appétit test kitchen, and deep down we know we’ll never make any of those dishes. But why not? During your staycation, take a day to shop for those ingredients, and take your time to learn and try something new. You can end up with something amazing and still spend less than if you took the whole family out to a fancy restaurant.
Another idea is to find an old cookbook for a kind of cuisine you’ve never tried, and see if there’s a recipe that looks interesting to you. Remember, this is your vacation, so it’s supposed to be relaxing. So, don’t stress yourself out with anything that seems impossible to pull off. Just aim to have a nice, exotic meal, like you would if you had gone on a traditional vacation.
Establish Quiet Time
Vacations are supposed to be relaxing, but having the whole family at home can be just the opposite. Create a vacation mood by enforcing some quiet time. No electronics, no TV, just time to read or write, draw, or work on a jigsaw puzzle. A regular time to decompress in silence and lose yourself in a story or activity will do wonders to relieve stress and bring you some of the peace that a vacation would normally provide.
If your libraries or bookstores are still open to the public, put on your masks and go shopping. Let everyone buy one book, puzzle, or other quiet activity that they can complete, and challenge everyone in the family to finish their book or project before the vacation time is up.
Camp out at home. A lot of families who like to camp out are pitching their tent in the back yard to give their kids an outdoor experience without having to travel. Make the most of this activity by doing all of the traditional camping activities—build a campfire and make s’mores, set up outdoor games and activities, and explore nature, even if it’s just outside your back door.
For a fun challenge, have your kids document their camping trip by taking photos, but try to take them in a way that makes it seem like they’re not in their own yard. Can they pose in front of artfully-placed plants to seem like they’re on a safari somewhere far away? Make this backyard trip feel like a real vacation by dressing up and creating the illusion of distant travel.
We know it’s tough to be stuck at home during this pandemic, and the idea of staying home through a vacation might sound unappealing. But with the right planning and coordination, you can make a staycation fun and memorable while staying perfectly safe and under budget.
If being locked down due to COVID-19 has already drained your vacation fund and left you feeling unsure about your finances, talk to a debt coach for person