a real stay-cation

by special request…

I know my last post was all about how important “real” vacations are to the mind and soul. And I’m not disagreeing with that. But sometimes travel is just not an option. Sometimes family, finances and work keep you from going off to the Caribbean for a week and drinking things only out of coconuts.

My good friend commented on that in my last post, and I would love to help out. Actually, I would love to go visit her in St. George, Utah, but as that’s not happening anytime soon (I can’t convince my husband that St. George is at all tropical), I’ll try to think of some good ideas for a real stay-cation.

1) NO WORK – This is a hard and fast rule for a true stay-cation. If the office can spare you for a day or two, do not answer work emails or work phone calls. The best idea is to be really vague about where you’re going on vacation, but if you don’t relish the idea of not telling your boss where you are, then you can set up a short meeting and tell him or her that under no circumstances will you be available. This makes it really like a vacation. And gives you the benefits of a vacation. Not thinking about work for a few days will help make you a happier, more relaxed employee. Now, if you are a stay at home person, like I am, this can be a little tricky. Read on…

2) NO WORK – Yes, I’m repeating myself. However, “no work” means just that. “No Work.” Is it ever REALLY relaxing to clean out your gutters? I know, I know, sometimes house projects seem to never get done… but I think a lot of people say “Oooh… I have vacation time… I should catch up on weeding!” If it seems like work, I would suggest avoiding it. I always try to have one day, every week, where I do basically no work at all. I think it helps me focus on the rest of the week. If it’s good enough for God… I try to cook a little extra the day before or the day after and just let the laundry go for one day. If you can’t do this once a week, I think you kind of owe it to yourself to not work at all for a few days a year.

3) Find something fun to do – I think that cities are really cashing in on the stay-cation idea. There are so many free and inexpensive things to do in the summer. Museums have free days, Farmer’s Markets are free to go to, the library is always free and dog parks and hiking trails are free. If you plan something out of the ordinary and fun, you make your little break really special. Even if you decide to spend a little money, consider it money saved because you are not spending money on a hotel or plane tickets. A trip to the movies, even with an Icee and popcorn, is less expensive than working on your tan in Aruba. I like doing things totally out of the ordinary too. There is a giant cheese warehouse about an hour from us. Yup, a cheese warehouse. It’s fun to take an afternoon, try all the samples and bring home something unique. Which brings me to the next point…

4) Good Food – What do I love best about any vacation? Food! I love trying new foods and trying new versions of my favorite foods. In a stay-cation, you can do the same thing. I love going for Ethiopian food, but it’s usually a once a year treat. If I connect that to my little vacation at home, then I’m creating a great memory to last me until the next time I go. I also love having picnics when my husband has a few days off. Try enjoying all the summer foods that remind you of vacations and long lazy days… berries, good cheese (of course!), interesting and delicious sandwiches, foreign cuisines, exotic drinks, lots and lots of ice cream and pie. Also, take the effort to make your foods different from the rest of the year. If you’re going to make grilled cheese, try cutting it into fun shapes with cookie cutters (especially fun with kids!). I know that seems small, but any change you make is going to remind you that this isn’t just a regular week. I also like putting frozen drinks in pretty glasses… naturally with tiny umbrellas. Making any kind of camp food is great too. Banana Boats in the oven or S-mores in the microwave are not AS delicious as on the campfire, but they come close!

5) Be a kid – What reminds me more than anything of vacations and summer days? Doing kid stuff. Bubbles, frisbee, running through the sprinkler, kites, hula hoops… You might think that you’re going to look foolish if you don’t have kids and you’re running through the sprinkler on a Monday afternoon. Who cares! Everyone who is hauling themselves to another boring day at work might look at you strangely, but they’re secretly envious. Trust me… If you have kids, great! Come up with ideas and show them what you liked doing as a kid. I am so excited to introduce my newest niece to squirt guns and water balloons. And don’t forget to buy sparklers. They remind me of summer vacations every time!

6) Watch vacation-y movies – Ok, vacation-y is not a word, but you know what I mean. I always associate certain movies with vacations. 1980s movies always remind me of vacations… either because I grew up in the 80s or because they are always on reruns in the summer. Even if most of it takes place in the school year, I can’t really separate “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” from summer in my book. And anything with John Cusack. And, of course, I can’t go a summer without watching the original “Parent Trap.” There are plenty of great newer movies that take place in the summertime or during a vacation. I especially love “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” even if it is for pre-teens and is pretty cheesy. In the same vein as the food suggestion, make it special too. Homemade popcorn and homemade banana splits are great for movie watching.

7) Keep a souvenir – To remember your stay-cation, why not buy yourself a small (dare I say micro?) souvenir? If you have a favorite movie that reminds you of your break, buy that on DVD. If you don’t want to add anything to your ever-growing collection of useless vacation objects, like magnets or pens, or even seashells, save your tickets from the movies or the museum you went to. When you go back to work, you can tack them on your bulletin board and think of how much fun you had. If you want to have a souvenir, but don’t feel like keeping it around, try an edible souvenir. Freeze the berries you bought at the Farmer’s Market for smoothies later on. Last summer, my husband and I canned salsa and tomato sauce and every time I open a jar, it reminds me of the summer and our friend’s farm stand.

8) Plan for your next vacation! – Just like I said with traveling vacations, one of the best parts about them is planning for them. Even if you know that you won’t be able to travel next year, start thinking of all the fun things you can do on your next stay-cation. If you missed a museum or a baseball game, start looking at tickets for next year. Find little ways leading up to your next break to get real work out of the way and to really enjoy the few days you have to yourself.

I hope that helped a little! The next time my husband gets few days off from work, even if it’s just a long weekend, I plan on using at least one of these ideas. What works for you? Do you have anything special that you like to do when you get a little break from the daily grind? Share your ideas and recipes and plans in the comments section!

And remember… saving money and using less are always hallmarks of Micro Living!




2 thoughts on “a real stay-cation”

  • Awesome post as always. Thanks for writing this one up for me. I love your ideas! Dustin and I are going to have a kid free week while my in laws watch my kids. I will have one day off and Dustin will take that day off too. I am so going to make the most of our kids free time and use some of your ideas. I really love the idea of a nice hike and a picnic at Zions National Park. One thing I also love to do is just lay out on a blanket in my yard and read a book. For some reason that always reminds me of the beach. Great tips!

  • My favorite farmer's markets are held on Sundays, with one of them being next to the marina. Then again, it's nice living close to Disneyland as I get to take advantage of their resident discounts.

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