Look, you and I both know we are talking about holidays and not vacations but the fact is Staydays don’t have quite the same sense of the exotic as Staycations.
For the uninitiated you might think that a Staycation is nothing more than staying home rather than going away. And you would be right. And you would be so very very wrong.
The trick to a Staycation is to make being at home WAY more fun than normal.
See the great thing about going away on holiday is to see things you don’t normally see, to relax, to forget about the everyday worries and re-charge.
So the first rule of Staycation is NEVER say ‘Oh, we’re just staying home’. Because my friends that is to waste the very first benefit of Staycations.
- No additional accommodation costs – this means you should actually reply smugly saying ‘got some free accommodation for 8 weeks so we’re living it up on the activities side.’ If they look at you doubtfully just know that approximately 7 of their 8 weeks holiday will be spent in traffic or if they’re ‘going abroad’, the majority of their budget will go on paying for bogan braids on a beach that isn’t anywhere as nice as of any of the 10,685 we have in Australia.
Other splendid benefits include:
- Unless you already live in a caravan park, your toilet and shower facilities are located within your home.
- No late night dashes after you cut a hole through your tent because you can’t find the zip in the dark. (There is no truth to a million stars are better than five)
- No realising a moment too late the reason you got a bargain at that great resort is because the people in the opposite building can watch you poop or shower due to a lack of frosted glass at yours.
- You know where the best food in the area can be found.
- Pets are welcome
- You don’t have to mortgage your house to drink a bottle of water in the fridge.
- Your children can choose a dinner option that isn’t chicken nuggets and chips, fish and chips, or spaghetti bolognaise.
- Dan Murphy will deliver your 12 bottles of wine for the same price as a glass of wine in any tourist destinations.
- No conversations that start with ‘next left sweetheart’ and end with ‘fuck you, you’re just like your mother, I want a divorce.’
So now you’re feeling the love for your familiar surrounds, here comes the catch. You can’t operate home the same way you normally do. You have to set the boundaries. And when I say ‘set boundaries’ I actually mean ‘adopt a regime similar to anarchy’. If you’re spending all your time worrying about chores and responsibilities you’re not in the holiday vibe.
A few guidelines for you that are Type A personalities and don’t understand the subtle art of letting go.
- If you miss the ferry, there’s another one.
- If you miss the bus, there’s another one.
- If you don’t leave the house until you’ve binge watched OINTB and have to survive on breakfast cereal or toast for a day or two, nobody cares.
- If you have kids and they want to spend the entire holidays dressed as Cinderella, nobody but nobody but nobody cares.
- Baths are optional if you’ve been swimming.
- Ice cream and fresh fruit should be stuffed into your fridge so you can all help yourself to whatever you want whenever you want.
- Eat naked. It cuts the need to do laundry.
- Turn off your work email notifications.
- Swimmers, flip flops and sarongs/towels are acceptable clothing for any event from Christmas Day until January 31.
- An entire day where you literally do nothing but read, eat and sleep should be Instagrammed, Facebooked and Tweeted so that everybody stuck in a queue at Wet ‘n’ Wild can feel the serenity.
Obviously, while staying at home for the whole holidays is perfectly acceptable, the best way to make the Staycation that something special is to explore your own city and surrounds.
This takes a bit of pre-Staycation preparation. The ultimate balance of activity vs doing nothing is basically a) do nothing and b) do something. But you don’t want to be joining all the people touristing in your neck of the woods every single day so you need to think out of the box.
Basic holiday rules apply when Staycationing. You need camera, hat, sunscreen and money for icecreams whenever you leave the house. I don’t care what the naysayers say – if you haven’t photographed it, boasted about it or turned it into a scrapbook for Granny – it didn’t happen.
- Find some bush and walk in it. And I don’t mean hike. I mean throw a backpack on with some sneakers (Hey! We live in Australia, there are snakes, don’t be a dick) and find a national park, a river and just ramble along, enjoying the smell of the gum trees, the fizz of the dust in your nostrils and the distant hum of the major motorway. Stop for a bite to eat, top up the sunscreen and if you are the kind to make everything educational – don’t.
- Go to the local park, take a picnic basket, plenty of sunscreen and hats and let the children go bananas on the equipment while you lie in the sun and then the shade, reading a crappy magazine shoved between the covers of Time.
- Find some sand and dig in it. Especially if you don’t have kids, they always want to build things and the joy is actually in the digging until you can cover your legs.
- Get on the very next train that arrives at the station and ride it to the very end without checking. Spend the day checking out the area. Make sure you go home before last train the other way.
- Museums, art galleries, free exhibits – anything with air conditioning. I mean culture.
- Outdoor movies and cinemas. They have them everywhere from Cooma to Cairns and all the major cities. Bonus points if you still live somewhere with a drive-in.
- Carols by candlelight. Sure it’s for Christmas but there is not a religion around that doesn’t love a bit of communal good feeling, a picnic and the sight of small children waving candles about like they are at a rock concert.
- Put the name of all the places you’ve always meant to eat and pull one of them out every Friday night lucky dip style and go there for dinner.
- Find some water and spend some time enjoying it. Whether it’s the hose in the backyard, a pool or the chaos of a water park – just enjoy the feeling of weightlessness and summer.
- Go for a bike ride. Not to anywhere in particular, but just to make sure you’ve pumped your wheels up at least once this year.
- If you can find somewhere to go paddle boating do it. There is limitless joy in two people trying to get a paddle boat to move and a feeling of accomplishment unparalleled in finally nailing it.
- Host a BBQ for friends, put on some vintage tunes and lots of sausages and talk until the wee hours about nothing, about everything and just enjoy not having to go anywhere tomorrow.
- Find some animals – whether it’s a zoo, some horse riding, cuddling cats at an animal shelter or walking your neighbour’s dog while they are away, it’s a bit of incidental exercise, mixed in with the primal recognition that you’re at the top of the food chain and that’s not a bad thing at all.
- Read the newspaper from beginning to end.
- Try geocaching or finding Pokeman. Sure it might not be your thing but at least then when you’re dismissing it, it’s with the full realisation of what it actually means.
- Do one of those virtual museum tours. You can check out everything from the Sistine Chapel to that Smithsonian one in America. Perfect for rainy days.
- If your partner or kids has a hankering to go camping, send them out in the backyard. It’s a win for everybody. You get to stay in a comfy bed while they sleep outside and squeal with terror every time their mattress creaks. Your kids will be there to look after them so they’ll be fine.
- Ten-pin bowling. There is nothing more equalising then this game. It’s generally hilarious, technically exercise and yet involves lots of sitting around. It’s a gift really.
- Check out the local festivals. It’s surprising how much time can be enjoyably spent wandering around an oval when it’s filled with fairy floss, local memorabilia and it’s ‘niche’.
- Try paddle boarding. It’s like dating a Hollywood star but with less need for bikinis and America.
- Do a home film festival – pop the popcorn and settle in for a viewing of all the movies you meant to see at the cinema but didn’t.
- Pamper yourself. Whether it’s a massage, a long bath, some exfoliating or an hour or two squeezing blackheads. There is always something about looking after yourself that gets postponed.
- Drink Asian beer. The type that tastes best ice cold when consumed in hot weather, sitting in a hammock and watching the world go by.
- Start a DIY project. It’ll still be there next summer holidays but you’ll have the sense of satisfaction of starting something you keep meaning to do but wouldn’t get a chance to do if you were in Fiji or the office. Bonus points awarded if you have kids and can get them to finish it.
- Watch the sun set one night. Do nothing else but watch it dip below the horizon. Life will still be there after it.
- Listen to loads of music so you can work out what your Staycation soundtrack will be for the inevitable return to work commute.
- Volunteer – whether its emptying your neighbour’s mailbox or packing Christmas baskets for the less fortunate, it’s just as valid as spending money to go and pat orphans in Asia somewhere.
- Drink a lot of water. Nothing says relaxed like a glowing complexion and the water pot belly.
- Go see a show – it doesn’t have to be Broadway to be an experience. I’d recommend your best swimsuit, flip flops and sarong for this one.
- Don’t read lists. Those things feel suspiciously un-holiday like after your suitcase is packed!