There are many reasons to have a staycation. Maybe it is lack of money, not enough time, a global pandemic or a combination of all of these. However, a great staycation can be achieved with the right mindset and a bit of planning. Here is how to experience more at home than you would travelling the world.
If you haven't heard the term before, it is where you take time off but stay at home. This term was first used in 2003 but became popular during the global financial crisis from 2007 to 2010.
I think we have all had staycations. For school kids, of course, most holidays are partly a staycation. But for adults, it can be a choice or a matter of circumstance.
Why a staycation mindset is important
While a staycation might sound like the lamest holiday imaginable to many, it is more about not having enough imagination. This is why you need the right attitude. Yes, maybe you took a week off work to do some much-needed work around the house, but for others, it can be about really experiencing things.
There is a certain mindset to being a tourist (image courtesy of Tibor Végh @ Wikimedia)
What really could make a staycation dull is our mindset. When we travel, we take on a travel thought pattern. We certainly won't be doing housework. What we will do instead is try to pack as much as possible into every day. Even the laziest tourist can do more on their vacation than the most energetic person at home. So what you want to do is get into the vacation mindset at home.
When I and most people I know travel, they will make a list of things to see and do. Some people are like "I have to eat this food.", others are "I have to see this place." and then there are those who state "I want this experience." If you are stuck in your hometown, then make a list of things you have done before but want to do again, things you have never done and even things you might not have thought you would want to do.
Here is a hot tip. In WeekendNotes, just type in the name of the region, city, town or even suburb to find out what is available there.
Keep it open and flexible
While you might have a plan, there is no reason why you can't just go with the moment. I know that when travelling, some of my best experiences have just been very random restaurants, bars or other opportunities that came along. Then, of course, there is often tourist information from location information centres or locals. Often when we live in a city, we tend not to be as adventurous as we are when we are abroad.
It doesn't have to be about throwing a pin onto a map, but there is nothing wrong with doing that. What I am talking about is visiting a place that might be interesting, then exploring the area while you are there.
Kids don't care
Kids, especially younger kids, don't really care if they travel to the other side of the world or to a nearby suburb, they just like the chance for some fun. An action-packed staycation can be as much fun for your kids as any other holiday.
I might make a mention of the clothes. What I don't like about tourists is that they are often dressed badly. But if you want to think like a tourist, you need to just go with the same tourist mindset. Wear comfortable clothes you can wear all day for all sorts of occasions and not worry if I am under or overdressed when going out.
Make a day of it
One way to approach the staycation is to make a day of it. At home, we might head out to do something, then once it is done, head home. On vacation, we will first do one thing, then another, then the next thing. You can start in the morning and end up partying until late at night. Yes, you will be a bit sweaty by dinner time, but that doesn't really stop people on vacation, so it shouldn't stop you when you are having a staycation.
Around the world, locals often have both a reluctance to do touristy things but often also a secret desire to do them. In Bangkok, my Thai friend who had lived in that city for 20 years said she had never taken a tuk-tuk, as no local would take them on the grounds they are the same price as a taxi but are not air-conditioned. Of course, when I was there, she insisted on taking tuk-tuk for the experience.
So put aside your "locals don't do that" mentality, and do something super touristy. Go on a river cruise, go up the tallest building in your city, see a touristy show or even join a tour. Just have fun with it.
Have unusual experiences
Australia is a land of many cultures and adventures. Pop into a Buddhist or Hindu temple, go horse riding, join an aboriginal culture tour, try your hand at stand up paddleboarding, visit a farm, try a food you have never eaten before or well just anything. Some people travel the world without really experiencing what the world has to offer. You don't have to go far to try something amazing. In the suburb that I live in, I can do indoor skydiving, visit a little rainforest, play laser tag, go to a waterpark or visit a hipster pub. Oh, and many people think I live in a boring suburb.
Horse riding is an experience that is great for friends, family or anyone
Spend the money you are saving, or find ways to save money
Most of these activities cost money and the reason you may be having a staycation is that you don't have much. But when you think about how much a trip might have cost, with airfares, hotels and more, you can also spend the money locally. Basically, don't let the price of things stop you from enjoying a staycation as it really is a cost-saving.
Mind you, you don't have to overspend. Groupon, Scoopon and other discount sites will help you find deals on things like shows, food, tours and events. But there are lots of ways to save money as well. For day trips especially, there are so many great picnic and barbecue spots with a view, it makes you wonder why anyone would waste money on a restaurant. Remember, you can buy local produce as part of your self-catering approach.
Let's not forget the economic value to your local community to having a staycation. By spending locally you are pumping money into your region's economy. You can even use your staycation to target areas that might be struggling, such as areas impacted by disasters or other problems.
Incorporate your hobby, or take one up
There are lots of benefits to having a hobby, including better mental health, greater happiness as well as making more friends. A staycation is a great opportunity to practice your hobby or take one up.
Here are some great hobby staycation ideas. Cycling or mountain biking is a great way to keep fit, but also a lovely way to explore a region. Photography or video making can be a lot of fun. It inspires you to get up early to get the good light or linger longer in a place to capture a great photograph. Consider creating a photo or video diary of your local region. Fishing is not only a good hobby to get you out of the house, but during staycations, it is the reason why you might travel up or down the coast looking for a great fishing spot. Even better, catching a few fish and you have a really delicious lunch or dinner.
One difference about going on vacation and having a staycation is the weather. On vacation, we will brave rain, hail and tornadoes on the grounds we paid to be there, but on a staycation, we might just stay at home because of the vague possibility that maybe there might be some showers for a short time during the day.
Real staycationers are not scared of an approaching storm
So basically, don't let the weather ruin your day. Pack a raincoat, jacket, scarf, umbrella and whatever else you need to get through the day. Remember to include options in your day for bad weather, such as galleries to visit or cafes to chill out in.
Nothing (everything) beats the view from a cloudy lookout
The best part of staycations can be about getting others involved. This isn't always easy, but usually, you can get others involved for part of the day, then dump them afterwards to go and have more fun.
Great Australia Staycation Ideas
There are often so many day trip options around any city in Australia, it is hard to believe that anyone could find a staycation boring. Here are just a few options around Australia. I have focused on whole day trips, but I would love to hear about some of your favourite day trip and staycation ideas.
For Sydneysiders, it is easy to spend a day in the city. Take the train to avoid traffic and parking hassles, head to the art gallery to see what the latest exhibitions are on, wander through the botanic gardens, maybe have lunch in the gardens or walk to the Opera House. Check out the buskers at Circular Quay. From there, you can walk up to The Rocks to check out whatever is happening there, head back into the city for some shopping, or jump on the Manly ferry to spend the afternoon at the beach. Don't forget that there are often events and entertainment on at Darling Harbour.
The Dandenong Ranges and Yarra Valley has long been a popular escape for Melbournites. Here you have forest drives, mountain hikes, great dining, excellent wine and more beautiful scenery. In particular, the Dandenong Ranges are well serviced by trains, making it a relaxing day trip where you can enjoy some drinks and return by train.
I am thinking of all the great day trips from Adelaide, and I didn't want to include going to the beach or drinking wine as everyone knows these already. So why not do something touristy and visit Monarto Safari Park. Here you won't find animals in little cages. Instead, they are free to roam the area. You can drive through and there are hiking options. Don't worry, the lions and other big predators are in another area to the hiking trails.
For the people of Perth, you can escape the city to the desert with just a 3 hour car drive to the Pinnacles Desert. While 3 hours seems a bit long for a day trip, the fact that you are arriving in a different world makes it worth the journey. Hike around the area or take the scenic drive to view the Little Painted Desert as well as the white dunes.
Brisbanites have quite a few options for a day trip. Obviously, the unique opportunity over other cities are the multiple islands big and small just off the coast, with North Stradbroke being one of the best value for money escapes you can do. Jump on the ferry at Cleveland and then take the bus, or drive if you took your car, around to Point Lookout. Walk along the gorges, swim at Cylinder Beach, then visit the art gallery and museum back at Dunwich. Don't forget to head out to Brown and Blue Lakes. Too bad you have to get on the ferry by 6 pm to return to the mainland.
Relaxing on North Stradbroke Island in Moreton Bay
Tasmania's combination of natural beauty, history and food is unbeatable. Telling Tasmanians to go to a national park is really redundant, so my recommendation is to visit a bit of history. As I love a good historic town, I would highly recommend a trip to Richmond, only 90 minutes drive from Hobart.
There are several world-famous and iconic locations suitable for a day trip from Darwin. Litchfield National Park is only an hour and a half away from Darwin. Along with the hikes and waterfalls, it is a place you can go for a swim (though only during the dry season, as Crocodiles might turn up during the wet).
A great vacation is about not having a care or concern in the world beyond where to get the next cocktail or if you packed enough sunscreen. To have a great staycation, you just need the same attitude. If you are stuck at home for whatever reason, you need to adopt that same holiday mindset. Every city in Australia is a tourists paradise and are surrounded by amazing day trip options. So there is no excuse not to have great experiences without having to travel far.