Staycations are on everyone’s lips as the snow rolls across the Northeast, and images of house sized snowdrift capture the imagination. Even if you’re not snowbound, a staycation is a great way to take a break while cutting down on the cost and stress of a traditional destination vacation. It keep the trip, and your spending local, so get in touch with the charms that you might otherwise miss on your daily commute
If you’ve been lucky enough to participate in the snow day bonanza that is Blizzard Juno, you’ve already discovered that staying inside can be heavenly or hellish depending on your attitude and resources. For those of you who were unable to spend Tuesday shovelling more than twenty inches of snow, here are some ideas for your own snow days, planned or unexpected. A few simple rules will keep the stress in check, and leave you feeling rested rather than bored.
#1 Advice: Don’t overbook yourself–keep things simple and build in plenty of downtime. Try to limit technology use to the essentials, or plan some time to get all the Pinterest out the way. Setting some ground rule for yourself and/or fellow staycationer might be helpful, if you’d like to really break the routine. Getting your chores out of the way will keep the compulsive cleaners among us from vacuuming when you could be doing something more restful. Most importantly, do a bit of planning, just like any vacation. Here are some winter staycation ideas to get you started:
If making is your thing, use this time to try a new, time intensive project you’ve been putting off. Teach yourself how to can or pickle, or tackle a DIY project you’ve been dreaming about. If can be a small as making some paper flowers or as big as refinishing a piece of furniture.. There are always new recipes to try and cookbooks to pursue, so give yourself a budget, get elaborate and make a mess. Nothing says vacation like four kinds of pancakes.
Some people like to get active to relieve stress. See if there is something you’ve wanted to try local, like rock climbing, geo-caching or a winter hike. Other activities can be done indoors, such as laser tag and bowling. The best part is, all of these can be as fun for beginners as veterans.
The winter months can be hard on our skin and our vitamin D levels, not to mention our wallets. Use a staycation to pamper your mind and body. Find a local bathhouse and get warm to your bones for a relatively small day-long access fee. If you live close to a nice hotel or casino, keep in mind that these places often have lush indoor pools and spas for their guests. You can often buy a day pass for under $50. If you want something a little lower key, have a good old fashioned sleep over with some friends, and have a movie marathon of your favorites. When alone time is more your speed, try a meditation class, a new kind of yoga, or just devour the stack of books that’s been waiting for you.
Check out the local library, bookstores and universities for events. Local newspaper often have listings for festivals, flea markets and church fairs, so go explore your community. You can also look for local groupons and living social deals for new classes or restaurants you’ve always wanted to try. Some theaters, sports venues, factories or breweries offer behind the scenes tours, so you can always learn more about your local favorites. If you think you’ve exhausted the possibilities, use the time to give back to a local cause you support, like a shelter or a community space. There’s always work to be done!
Some of us spend all winter craving green, but your local botanical garden may have the cure. Most cities and many universities will have a conservatory or greenhouse you can visit, and the atmosphere inside is almost guaranteed to be tropical. You can also spend some time planning out your spring garden, or less ambitiously planting an indoor herb garden. Some plants can be started with your refuse: ginger, avocado, beets, carrots, onions and scallions can all be started from bits and tops. Sweet potato vines can be coaxed to wind around your windows even in the winter. If you want to give back to local wildlife, channel elementary school and roll pine cones in peanut butter, then birdseed, to make simple bird feeders.
If a staycation still sounds like your nightmare, there’s hope for you! Take a day trip and explore something nearby, like a cute town or local mountain for skiing and other wintry activities. If it’s your space that’s making you antsy, try rearranging the furniture for fresh outlook on things. Social butterflies can throw a low-key party, potluck style, and invite friends to join their staycation relaxation. You can always check out local museums; are there any exhibits coming up that you’re usually too busy to see? If nothing else floats your boat, give back and volunteer for a local cause you support. Nothing is more rewarding than knowing you’ve help those in need.
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Image: Haley Houseman