How to Decide If a Staycation Is Right for You

So, you’ve finally scheduled that much-needed weekend, weeklong, or even two-week break from work. Or, if you’re in school, it’s summer break and your curricular responsibilities are mercifully at a standstill, but you’re still dealing with burnout from last semester.

What do you do with that time off? If you’re anything like me, you need a break. But over the course of the past year, I realized that simply staying in the area when I wanted a respite made me just as happy as planning a getaway. I look forward to these as much as trips for a different reason — there’s really no planning needed and it doesn’t strain my wallet.  

Sometimes, what you really need is a staycation. Before you write off this idea as boring, take a look at the following questions you should ask yourself when it comes to planning a summer getaway versus relaxing at home and decide which is the better option for you.

RELATED: Ready, Set, Save for Your Summer Getaway

1. What’s your budget?

When deciding if I should plan a trip or not, this is the first question I ask myself: Can I afford the travel costs, including transportation, food, and Airbnb? If my budget says “No,” I consider staying in the area and planning fun, local outings or day trips to nearby state parks or to the beach. A staycation doesn’t mean you have to be stuck at home. Plan a few laid-back activities like day hikes with your friends so you still get the vacation feeling without burning through your wallet.

I live within driving distance of the Atlantic Ocean, but couldn’t afford an entire week at the beach with my friends. So instead of doing all or nothing, I chose to take a day trip there, and was rewarded with the sand and sunshine without the financial burden.

2. What’s your energy level like?

If you’re like me, the last thing you feel like dealing with is planning a vacation if all you do is schedule, coordinate, and organize at your 9-to-5 — like I do as an editor at a local magazine. Sure, I’d take an opportunity to travel to an exotic island in a heartbeat, but sometimes I don’t have the energy to figure out logistics like availability, schedules, and activities with family or friends who may be going with me.

I recently had the opportunity to travel to Scotland, but I needed to resolve a slew of logistical hurdles first, including scheduling issues and financial complications. I’m someone who tends to push however hard I need to in order to make something work out. But, already dealing with handfuls of work-related deadlines and general life busyness, I decided to do something very out of character and made the practical decision to stay home and get some much-needed relaxation.

Sometimes, what you really need is time off—and that includes a break from life stuff. If you want to sit by the local YMCA’s pool with a book for five days straight, then follow your gut. Chances are, it’s exactly what you need to be doing.

3. Can you keep it practical?

Consider whether your responsibilities at home outweigh the benefits of going away right now. Are there projects around the house you’ve been wanting to work on for awhile but you haven’t had the time? Is there a hobby like photography or gardening you’ve been wanting to pursue but you’re too busy during the workweek to jump in? Are there family members or friends you need to catch up with? In that case, using your vacation time to focus on these things may make you feel more refreshed in the long run.

I spent a portion of my recent staycation catching up on an art project and visiting with loved ones, while also taking time for myself to read and relax, and the outcomes were just what I wanted. I felt rejuvenated and ready for work, just like I would after a vacation away from home, without the stress of planning or figuring out how to afford it. Win, win!

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