How to have a great staycation that will refresh and energize you

How_to_have_a_great_staycationWhen I was a child, summer vacation meant badminton and make-believe in the backyard, walking to the library and coming home with my arms full of books, eating home-made “popsicles” that my mom made by freezing orange juice in ice-cube trays. We’d sometimes drive to see our cousins in Seattle or Astoria, and one time we drove all the way to Prince George just because, but most of my summer vacations were what people call a “staycation” today.

I still enjoy staycations–no traffic, no packing, no reservations necessary, always stacks of books, and I’m still playing make-believe (aka dreaming about my next book project!). What with the great scenery and summer weather here at home, I’m happy to save some money and green my vacation by keeping a smaller carbon footprint.

But what makes a staycation different from any other day at home? Here`s how it works for me.

Slow down.

Instead of my usual morning work out and getting to the church by 9am, on staycations I enjoy more leisurely mornings–home-made muffins freshly baked for breakfast, reading the morning newspaper in the morning for a change, doing the cross word puzzle, lounging in my nightgown until well past noon.

Plan something special every day.

Fresh blueberries, dim sum with my sisters, making “Dole whip” with frozen pineapple and almond milk, meeting a friend for lunch, going to the library, a shopping trip, a day hike, a movie, planning a potluck with friends, a romantic dinner for two, the art gallery, ice cream in White Rock, walking on the beach, the farmers’ market.

Do something productive.

For the best staycation, some recommend “Don’t do the laundry or clean the garage, or other household projects.” But one friend deliberately saves her annual doctor and dentist trips for the first part of her staycation. “That way I get some things done that I don’t take time for throughout the year,” she says, “but they don’t take up my whole vacation.” Personally, I find it satisfying to complete one or two projects, so I’m actually looking forward to reclaiming my piano bench from 6 months of household receipts and other financial papers that need filing. I wouldn’t want to overdo it though, so I think I’ll skip cleaning the garage 🙂


While being on vacation means vacating my usual responsibilities, it doesn’t have to mean vacating from God, so I generally continue with journaling, Scripture, and prayer. Sometimes we visit another church with friends, more often we try to worship in a congregation where we don’t know anyone else. I might still notice if the service starts late or the powerpoint isn’t quite right, but at least I don’t feel the same level of responsibility for any of those things.

Play hooky.

As a pastor, I seldom get a Saturday-Sunday weekend to myself, so whenever I do, it feels like a great luxury. I can actually go out for Sunday brunch, or end a week of staycation with a weekend away. Yes, I still have a cell phone for anything that really can’t wait until I get back, and sometimes I sneak a peek at my email too, but for the most part I’m off the hook. Any church work while on vacation gets written up as time to be taken off later. For me that’s a fair trade to accommodate any needs and still take care of my own.

For a great staycation, this at least is what I hope for. Unfortunately for me, this time I came down with a horrible and unseasonal bout of the ‘flu–definitely not recommended for any vacation at home or otherwise! But I’m feeling well now and finishing my staycation strong.

Your turn: What other great staycation tips can you add to my list? Is a staycation enough of a vacation for you?  



6 thoughts on “How to have a great staycation that will refresh and energize you

  1. I’m in the midst of one right now, and am doing a little more sailing, reading and just sitting in the back yard drinking coffee and watching the local wildlife – chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits, cardinals, robins, etc. My wife is working (I have one more week of holidays than her) so I’ll do a few extras so her week is a little relaxed too.

  2. Your family’s idea of vacation is refreshing to me, April! We always vacationed the European way of getting away in August. Today, our family gets away whenever we can during the summer depending on other demands on our schedules. But I like your idea and want to implement it for more meaningful rest.

    1. Lisa, I love going away on vacation too–our big trip this year was Hawaii for spring break which was wonderful! But I also find that it’s possible to have a real vacation at home. The other advantage is that somehow a staycation helps me “reset” home life, to bring some of that same spaciousness of vacation time into ordinary time too. I’ll see how well that works now since I’m back to regular work and ministry today 🙂

  3. April, I love cations, either va- or stay-. 🙂 You can also do the kind of staycation that allows you to look at your local environment with new eyes and try adventures close at hand. Way back in 2009, when we were in the throes of the Great Recession, my husband and I planned a staycation that turned into a blog post. Forgive the formatting that didn’t make it completely through two website migrations, but you might enjoy the tips at the end.

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