5 ways to make the most of a stay-at-home summer vacation

Try making a more emphasized division between work and leisure during a staycation. For instance, adopt a looser schedule and set an away message for your inbox, in advance.

5 ways to make the most of a stay-at-home summer vacation
[Photo: nortonrsx/iStock]

During 2020, the lines between work and home for many people have become completely muddled. And to pile it on, recent travel restrictions have further hampered the traditional distinction between work time and vacation time, creating a lack of clarity.


As we head into the summer of 2020, some are venturing out beyond their local areas for getaways while others are opting to stay closer to home. If you fall into the latter category and are planning partake in a “staycation,” here are my top five tips based on my own experience, as well as recommendations to my clients, on how to make the most out of the time off.

Try for a more relaxed schedule

One of the things people tend to treasure most about a vacation is simply not being “on the clock.” Even if you’re not away from home, allow yourself to have an away-from-responsibility schedule.

Don’t set an alarm. Check yourself when you begin to rush from one thing to thing. Enjoy a brunch instead of breakfast. Put up your away-from-email message. Don’t answer your work phone, unless the call is critical. Tap out on work meetings for sure and even consider stepping away from the personal meetings. For example if there was a group that you used to attend in person live before COVID-19 but is now on Zoom, you can simply let them know you won’t be available while you’re on your staycation.

The goal is to give yourself that luxurious spaciousness and breathing room that you usually feel when you’re not home.

Create “peak” moments

In the book, The Power of Moments, authors Chip and Dan Heath, talk about the importance of building peaks, not just filling potholes, when creating experiences.

In terms of brainstorming for your staycation, this means your time off will be more pleasurable, not only if you have fewer work responsibilities, but if you intentionally put time into truly memorable moments. Maybe this looks like driving to a local lake and spending the whole day there and buying the kids whatever they want from the concession stand. Perhaps this experience equates to exploring a hiking trail for a few hours in a direction you don’t normally have the time to visit and you end up finding stunning.


Or finally, maybe it looks like finding a local spot like a botanical gardens or zoo, which you have never visited. Find something that suits you and the people staycationing with you that would be truly different, create something to talk about, and will be a time to remember.

Excuse yourself from cooking for the night

Often when you go on vacation, you’re off-loading your responsibilities to others, who can offer support. You’re going to restaurants, staying in hotels, and, generally doing less of the day-to-day cooking and cleaning necessary in your “normal” life. Consider adding some of this support element to your staycation.

Instead of cooking, you can order takeout or go out to a patio where someone else is cooking and handling the dishes. If you do eat at home, consider getting frozen meals or even using disposable dishes. This isn’t a lifestyle that you want all the time. But the idea is that you want to create a “mental break” for yourself, so that you’re not feeling like you are spending just as much time on household responsibilities on vacation as you do when you’re in your normal day-to-day.

Seek out special treats

When my coaching clients look to fit in activities like reading into their schedules, we often look at options like 15 minutes of diving into a book before bedtime.

However when you go on vacation, it’s not uncommon to spend hours reading on the beach or in the airport. When you do your staycation, give yourself the same luxury. If you want to spend two or three hours reading on a lawn chair with a cool drink in your backyard, go for it. If you want to take a two-hour nap, allow yourself the rest. If you want to paint your nails, by all means.

Vacations aren’t times for efficiency. To enjoy your staycation, you want to give yourself the opportunity to have reduced expectations and more opportunities to savor activities that you usually need to “squeeze in” or might not happen at all.


Complete overdue projects

The fifth way to make the most of a staycation is to knock out one of your long-in-the-making projects, which you never had the time for.

Be careful with this staycation tip: Unless you’re one of those people who really enjoys home projects, you’ll be annoyed if you spend your whole staycation getting things done. But sometimes it can feel good to accomplish something of significance. This may look like cleaning out a closet, getting your garden in order, returning store-bought items you never got around to returning, or painting a room. Pick one or maybe two items that matter to you and try to execute. Take note that, unless you live for projects, keep the rest of your staycation low-key.

I can’t guarantee that a staycation will top the charts of your “best vacation ever.” Your patio likely doesn’t measure up to some ocean beachfront. But you can get some good time off that provides a very needed mental, emotional, and physical break from the daily grind when you follow these five tips for making the most of your staycation.

Elizabeth Grace Saunders is the author of Divine Time Management and How to Invest Your Time Like Money, and a time management coach. Find out more at