Open Thread: Staycations

StaycationsWith the Fourth of July right around the corner (and a nice four-day weekend for most US readers), I’m sure a lot of people have travel plans.  For those of you who don’t, though, I thought we’d talk about staycations — what are your favorite things to do on staycations?

For my $.02, I’ve enjoyed a number of staycations through the years…

  • Museums.  For a long time, I used to take a regular museum staycation in the beginning of the year (usually either over the 3-day MLK weekend or the 3-day President’s Day weekend) — I would pick a few museums that I hadn’t been to in a while, or had great exhibits I hadn’t seen, and try to my tourist thing in NYC — and go to at least two a day.  I would normally be exhausted after the weekend, but I really did feel like I’d learned a lot (and felt like a tourist!).
  • Self-study.  I also used to take what I called “self-study” staycations, particularly when I used to visit my parents for 5-10 days around Christmas and New Year’s.  I’d pick a topic I was interested in, get a ton of books out of the library on it, take notes, and try to really learn the topic.  I’ve done this on small space design (to prepare for living in my post-law school studio), on maintaining weight loss (after I’d lost a lot of weight on Weight Watchers), and on investing.  It kind of bums me out that I can’t find my notes on these topics, but it really was like taking a mini-class in whatever topic I chose.  Obviously mine were pretty lightweight topics, but you could pick a period in history, a skill (photography has always been on my to-do list; so has coding) or more.
  • Friends.  It’s harder to do on holiday weekends like this where most of your friends are probably out of the city, but it’s a great time to really fill up your social calendar and catch up with friends.
  • Binge reading/watching.  I never quite feel like I’ve made good use of a weekend when we just lie around and binge-watch episodes of a show (or a long movie series), but of course we have watched all six hours of Pride and Prejudice in a single sitting, and entire seasons of Battlestar Gallactica and Buffy the Vampire Slayer in single weekends.  It’s also always a nice mental break to be able to just chill out with a brain candy book like a Harry Potter or the Hunger Games trilogy and let that take up the long weekend.
  • Day trips.  I’ve never quite gotten into the daytrip mentality — I love New York City! — but we spent last weekend visiting my in-laws a few hours north of NYC and I’m starting to appreciate all the vineyards and quaint country activities that are close to the city.

Readers, what do you like to do on staycations?

(Pictured: SD Backyard Hammock, originally uploaded to Flickr by bowenmurphy.)

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  1. I only have Thursday off, no 4 day weekend for me and nothing planned.

    • SoCalAtty :

      Me too…who gets Thursday and Friday without having to actually take a vacation day?

      • federal law clerks for one :) only if your judge is nice though.

      • My law firm is closing the office on Friday as a surprise gift to staff. I could take off too, assuming I don’t have any work to do, but I’m not sure if that will be the case.

      • Me! Thursday is a holiday and Friday only “essential personnel” have to work.

      • manomanon :

        me! My office is closing as a treat- since I would have been one of 2 people here (newish so no vacation days yet) I am thrilled!

      • I do! We have floating holidays that shift between 4th of July/Christmas/New Years to fill gap days. 4th of July is the lucky winner of a floating holiday this year.

      • Gail the Goldfish :

        Me! I think so many people in my office were taking it off that they just decided to give it to us.

  2. Just wrapped up a weekend at a hotel less than two miles from our house. We camped out on the club level, had room service, swam and drank way too much wine at lunch. It was a perfect, easy respite that has us ready for another week….or at least the next staycay.

  3. I only have Thursday off, too. And I’m coming off of a 200 hour billable month and literally dream of using that day off to just lounge, read, and do simple things around the house like laundry, deep cleaning, etc. and finally getting around to plucking my eyebrows (seriously, it’s been a mad house around the office, and I’m neglecting a ton of basic things).

  4. sorry for the threadjack–

    It’s been incredibly busy around the office (working until 10pm or later every weeknight for the past 5-6 weeks and working at least 8-10 hours each weeekend), and I’m becoming incredibly negative about my job and life in general. I know that I need to choose happiness and to change my attitude, but it’s hard. What do you ladies tell yourselves to cheer yourself up/motivate yourself when you’re down in the dumps during a stressful period at work?

    I like to start with: “Hey, I’m healthy and am lucky to have a job and to be able to pay my bills,” but somehow this isn’t cutting it.

    I’m honestly miserable, and when I’m away from work all I can think about is “gosh I still have so much to do,” and I’m constantly checking my phone for e-mails regarding work (which inevitably arrive at all hours of the day–be it a weekday or weeknight).

    • Sydney Bristow :

      Do you have anything coming up that you can look forward to? I work similar hours and try to focus on a particular goal like building up my emergency fund to a specific amount or saving for an awesome vacation that I start planning in the little free time I have. It gives me something to focus on as justification for the long hours.

    • Put your phone down and give yourself honest breaks. If you know you aren’t going to be able to handle something immediately because you will be in the shower or at dinner or something, just don’t look. That way you won’t be worrying about it and ruining your down time by being on edge constantly.
      Also, can you book yourself a reward/time off once things calm down? Even if there is no end in sight, blocking off a few hours for something pleasant can reduce the burnout.

    • Anon in NYC :

      A few cheesy things that I do: I find keeping a gratitude journal, of sorts, helps. During really tough periods at work I actually took to writing them down because the act of putting pen to paper helped me focus on that feeling of appreciation. I let myself be grateful for all sorts of things, including the mundane and silly. Like, “I am grateful for the smell of that first cup of coffee” or “I am grateful for Pretty Little Liars” all the way up to big things like health, etc.

      I also made myself look at and see people. Too often in NYC you find yourself zoning out or unfocusing your eyes to preserve distance and personal space between yourself and the bazillion other people here (is that just me?). I made myself observe the people that I walked past, and often times it would have a positive effect on my mood. Like, the tourists that crowd the sidewalks when I’m trying to get to my office and normally irritate me – well, they saved up money to take a vacation to the city that I get to live in every day of my life and they are excited to be here. Who knows what their life situation is like or if this is a once-in-a-lifetime vacation for them, but the reason they are walking so slowly is because they’re soaking it all in and enjoying it. It was a reminder that I should do that more often – maybe the world will not end if it takes me 20 minutes to walk to the office instead of 15. Plus, when you look at people you’re more likely to see random acts of kindness, which always make me smile.

      I also think that when you’re working as hard as you are, it’s important to preserve down time. Do not schedule things unless you want to do them. If you keep buying groceries but don’t have time to cook, stop buying groceries and stop feeling guilty about all the veggies going bad in your fridge. Think back to the things you used to do for fun (exercise? horseback riding?), when you had time to do them, and try to do one of those things on a Saturday morning. Eat as healthy as possible – a day or two of greasy food and I feel terrible. And, this is difficult but it will help with the anxiety of checking your phone all evening, set a mental stop time for checking your phone. Like, I’m leaving the office at midnight. I will check my phone when I get home. If there is nothing urgent, I will put the phone down and not check it until I wake up for work.

    • Another slightly cheesy reply — the best thing for me to recharge is to get out of town and get into nature. It’s the best way for me to get perspective on my job, life, etc. I don’t know if you can get out of your city very easily into true wilderness, but if you can, give it a try. Everything seems so much simpler when you get away, even if it’s just for a Saturday morning hike.

    • Therapy. 50 minutes every other week where someone is paid to listen to me b***h about my job and also offer constructive advice.

    • I set rewards to look forward to:
      – Super short vacation (a weekend) for which I buy at least one new item
      – Flash shopping is great… If I cannot find anything I typically buy for bright coral nailpolish, you can never go wrong with nail polish
      – Sometimes I order a gourmet dinner at home, slap on bright lipstick and light a candle just for myself..
      I am typically the financially responsible always serious person.
      Thus when I feel too much pressure, I like to tell myself that working hard allows me to be in a high earning bracket so every now and then I try to indulge.

    • I think anyone would be miserable working that many hours. That sounds unsustainable. I don’t know how people do that. There is literally no time for anything else in your life. If I were you, I’d try to decrease your work load and phase out tasks that are not highly visible or things that no one else notices or cares about, or find ways to breeze through them more quickly, even if it means only doing a “B” level job on a project that is not a high priority (really, when it comes to some things, no one is staring over your shoulder, watching every little move). Use the extra time for yourself. Take a real lunch break. Go get a massage. Go for a walk and call a friend or your mom or whoever makes you feel understood and more positive about life in general. I think we often get sucked into thinking that every little task is so important in our jobs, but really, you have to prioritize, and that includes prioritizing your own sanity.

  5. I’m on a staycation right now. Unlike Kat, I use my at-home time to do all of the things I can’t get done when I’m working every day. I sometimes take a shopping trip but since I just got back from DC I don’t need that. So far, I have installed a new shelving unit and reorganized my shoes and purses and cleaned under the one that I moved. I still need to sort through and get rid of bags, tissue, etc. Took my cat to the vet this morning. Now I’m watching her stagger around drunkenly while sedation wears off. Sometimes, I’ll plan a big home project like painting a room, replacing an AC unit, installing new light fixtures. But this year I just needed some at-home time to get caught up.

    • Sydney Bristow :

      I do this too and typically have a to do list for random days off outside of typical weekend days. My day in a few weeks will be full with a dentist appointment, doctors appointment, updating LinkedIn, donating some clothes, and sorting through my inbox.

    • This is how I imagine my staycations would be.

      What really happens is some mixture of Kat’s self-study (except, if I had 5 days, I’d only do 2 days of self-study) and then 3-days of binge-reading (mix of good YA, crap adult fiction, excellent nonfiction, cheesy magazines, and whatever else I’ve accumulated over the year.)

    • I start doing this too.
      I realized the little things are always on my mind buzzing around and I have endless lists of things to do.
      While I know that my empty apartment still needs a lot of work, every time I take care of one thing (get a vanity, fix the cable, put a clothes rack etc.), I make an effort to pause and enjoy the improvement in my day to day life.
      Having one less thing on one of my lists (though immediately replaced by 2 or 3 more things) is more relaxing to me than going out.

  6. Diana Barry :

    Oh, how I long for a staycation! I could finally organize all of my clothes! and put them away! and fix up my closet! and the kids’ clothes! Instead, we go on vacation and it is more work to make the list of what to pack, pack, go away and run ragged because the kids DO NOT SLEEP, come back and have to do more laundry, etc., all while the kids are underfoot. The next time we go away I am going to get a babysitter just for the time when I am packing.

    • I may have a staycation if I can NOT get Myrna to come with me anywhere, b/c I do NOT want to go somewhere by myself and have a whole load of peeople hitting on me in a place I am NOT familliar with. At least here in NYC, if a guy is comeing on to strong, I can go to the bathroom and then leave out the back way without worrying about how to get home.

      If I am in a different place, I do NOT know anywhere execept where I am and where I am stayeing, such as at the Hilton or Mariott. So it is difficult to be abel to just get up and go and then get back there to easily.

      When I was in Pitsburg on a project, the manageing partner was with me, but after work, he just wanted to go to the steam room and then back to his room. Because of that, I did NOT venture to far from the hotel. But even inside the hotel, there were alot of guy’s who wanted me to take a drink from them at the Hotel bar. It was attached to a restrunt, but I did NOT want to drink, onley eat. So I got FOOD there, but delivered to the bar where I was eateing. So all these guy’s offered to refresh my drink, and I knew that they were NOT interested in anything LONG term, onley short term, and I was NOT about to have a 1 night stand. FOOEY on that!

      So even if you are in a hotel, it is more riskey then a staycation. That is why I am thinkeing of having a stay cation here in NYC, where I can catch up on all of the museum exhibit’s that I have read about. I may even go to the MOOMA, which has a great new exhibit on something! YAY!!!

      • I’m not in NYC, and I don’t have a 4-day weekend, but I really wish I could go see that great new exhibit on something at MOOMA. That kind of made my day.

  7. Anyone else just love doing nothing for a weekend (or even a day)? I’m referring to Kat’s comment that she doesn’t feel like she’s made good use of a staycation if all she does is binge-watch/read. That is actually the perfect weekend for me, and I don’t feel like it’s wasted because it’s actually what I’d rather be doing. People always ask me what plans I have for the weekend or holiday and I usually get weird looks when I tell them I don’t have any plans!

    • Absolutely this, x 1000. I’m actually usually disappointed (at least a little) when we make plans for the weekend/holiday – I feel like I got scr3wed out of my lounging/husband & baby cuddling/internet surfing/magazine reading /trashy TV watching time.

      • Me Three. I could happily ‘do nothing’ for ever, if someone would pay me to do it ;o)

    • I feel okay about doing nothing on a weekend or calendared holiday, but I would not be okay with taking time off work if I don’t have something planned, I would feel that to be a waste of my vacation time.

    • Absolutely. I’ll purposefully save up a ton of trashy TV shows (here’s looking at you, Bravo!) to binge on during a long weekend. I’ll also run to the grocery store/Whole Foods at the very beginning so we don’t have to go anywhere later. We’ll watch movies and I’ll cook/bake each meal to make sure that we don’t have to leave the house. I look forward to weekends like that all year.

    • YES! A busy weekend feels like no weekend to me.

    • I love love love doing this. Sometimes, though, I kind of feel guilty about being so lazy. I actually welcome cloudy/rainy days because it makes me feel more justified about staying in. I also notice that if I don’t go to the store before my lazy day, I will inevitably end up ordering something unhealthy and get it delivered, which makes me feel even more guilty! I’ve started trying to get all my errands done on Saturday so that I have a completely laid-back Sunday. It makes the laziness that much more satisfying.

    • +1!!!

      When my weekends are overbooked, or the husband and I have something going on to many weekend in a row I feel like I’m not getting any downtime. I don’t know that I consider this a “staycation” but my typical down-time focused weekend includes sleeping in, wandering the farmer’s market with an iced coffee, and then….nerd alert….going to Hastings or Barnes & Noble with a second iced latte and wandering the book aisles for hours. I’ll grab a couple books, read a few chapters to see if I’m interested in the whole book, and then browse the used book selection. The book store wandering happens sans-husband because 1) He’s not patient enough to spend 2.5 hours in a book store and 2) Who doesn’t need some ME time, right?

      Sometimes I also intentionally don’t leave my apartement for almost the entire weekend and while it seems a bit hermit-like, I always find that cutting myself off from the world for a while makes me feel really rejuvinated.

    • I do this when I am drained.
      Every few months, I am close to burnout and so the only cure is to do nothing.
      At best, I would paint my nails, do a deep conditioning hair mask and write my diary while contemplating my life.

    • I do this. I call them pajama days (the goal is to not have to get our of PJs for the entire day). It’s ok to do chores around the house or even do some work from home while sitting on the couch. But the main goal is relax, binge watch trash TV, and catch up on the internets. Ideally, I get 1 pajama day a week.

  8. My BF and I just went on our first “staycation”, and it was incredible. We’d recently gone through a pretty hectic time in our relationship where we hadn’t been seeing enough of each other, but unfortunately didn’t have enough time to go on a full-on trip, so a “staycation” was really the only possibility.

    We went to our local five-star hotel (like 30 minutes away) and stayed for a night, using hotel reward points (so it was free – yay!). We had a lengthy gourmet meal, had cocktails by the pool, and got spa treatments. It only lasted 24 hours, but both of us came back feeling refreshed and like we really had gone on a mini-vacation. We would definitely do it again.

  9. momentsofabsurdity :

    This thread about staycations makes me want to put my head down on my lap and take a nap.

    • If you can do that, MOA, you must either be terrific at yoga, or a zombie! :)

      • momentsofabsurdity :

        Totally neither (well the zombie part is debatable pre-AM coffee…) but I suppose lap is an overstatement – top of my knees, maybe?

  10. Great post for my question: we are doing a road trip to LA from the Bay Area over the July 4th weekend. Any suggestions for the top 5 things to do and see in LA? We will be traveling with older parents and a 2-year old, so I’m looking for mostly family-friendly suggestions for the day, though we may have a night or two just to ourselves (DH and me) for budget-friendly yet romantic meals/drinks.

    Itinerary: Staying two days near Beverly Hills to do some typical touristy things. Two days near Disneyland.
    Preferences: I don’t want to do any shopping, but I am a city person and like walking in downtown areas, museums etc. (see note on 2-year old above though). My husband is big into movies so we will do universal studios for sure. The toddler doesn’t know much about disney and we’ve none of us been, so I have no idea what to expect or how to prioritize there. Since we live in the Bay Area though, I’d like to do and see things there that are unique to SoCal (so maybe not wine tasting, even though we love that in Sonoma?).
    Any tips for a driving vacation and hotel stay with a toddler (especially with respect to meals and activities) welcome as well.

    • Anon in NYC :

      You could go to the beach towns – Santa Monica is really close to Beverly Hills, has a short outdoor walking mall that is nice for strolling, has the Santa Monica pier, which has a small amusement park on it (perhaps good for a 2 year old?), and of course the sand/ocean. Manhattan and Hermosa beach are also really nice. You can also walk along the Strand (oceanfront, drool-worthy property).

    • Definitely do a half day at the Santa Monica Pier. That area of Santa Monica is very walkable, and the pier amusement park will be a hit with your toddler.

    • Angeleno with a toddler :

      I have an almost 2 yr old who likes going to LACMA. On Sundays they have family day and set up crafts for toddlers to do in part of the museum. There’s also a children’s gallery with more crafts for the kids to do that’s open all the time. Husband and I usually take turns watching the kiddo while the other one wanders around the adult part of the museum. We’ve also taken our toddler to the California Science Center and the Long Beach Aquarium, and he loved them. The Science Center is pretty lame, except for the space shuttle exhibit.

    • SoCalAtty :

      Be carefuly of traffic near the beaches on the 4th – it gets CRAZY. I mean sitting on PCH for 2 hours crazy. We’re going to go out to Marina del Rey / silver strand area, and we’re planning on being down there by like 9am and taking our bikes to get around town.

      Actually, you could head down to the beach and rent bikes! Really fun and they sometimes have them with toddler seats (call to make sure!).

    • Warner Bros studio tour – a real studio, not an amusement park.
      Farmer’s Market @ 3rd and Fairfax
      Getty Museum (toddler might be bored, but you will love it. Beautiful gardens.
      Santa Monica Pier & 4th Street Promenade (make sure you go to Cha Cha Chicken for lunch!!); rent bikes and ride to Venice Beach
      Beverly Hills/Rodeo Drive

      • Senior Attorney :

        If your 2 yo will sit through a meal, the restaurant at the Getty is amazing. I had friends visit from out of town recently and we ate our way through L.A., and lunch at the Getty was the very best meal we had. Plus — the view!!

        Also, the Huntington Library and Gardens in Pasadena is great. I used to take my son there all the time when he was small — lots of gardens to run around in, plus a fish pond with turtles and ducks to look at.

  11. summer anon :

    Pool! There’s something great about reading a magazine poolside, even if you’re slathered in sunblock and coverups (rash guards?). I also love watching kids and other people play in the water – the ability to just have fun and be carefree is the essence of summer.

  12. I also only have Thursday off, no long weekend and no special plans. I have 2 sick kittens that I am trying to get healthy so they can be adopted, and messes to clean up. (poor babies) Have a family vacation in 2 weeks, which is the opposite of a staycation, one of those family things that are so exhausting you need another vacation afterwards to recover! But we’ll be in VA Beach, so hopefully I’ll at least get a little time to sit on the beach and catch up on my reading.

    • hope the kitties get well soon! they are so precious

    • Awwww. Here’s hoping the Scoob-ittens recuperate soon!

    • Thanks!! They will be. Just upset tummies, probably a bug they picked up at the shelter. Just require a lot of attention, meds and cleanup. I feel so bad for them, tho!!

  13. Miss Behaved :

    I get Thursday off and am taking Wednesday and Friday. I was planning to spend the time on the beach and with my family. Unfortunately, I somehow picked up a terrible cold – very bad sore throat, cough, and some ear and head pain.

    I’m hiding out at my desk and counting the minutes until I can leave today.

  14. I don’t have a partner, kids, or any real responsibilities outside of work, so every day is like a staycation to me. Especially in the summer, when I spend almost every evening strolling around the neighborhood and then reading and people-watching at an outside cafe. It helps to think of the solitude as a zen-like resort experience rather than the everyone-is-having-fun-with0ut-me loneliness it can sometimes be.

    A while back, someone recommended Dove Clear Tone deodorant for underarm darkness. I’ve been using it for a month now, and I must say that I am pleased. I still have a LOOOOONG way to go before I’d feel comfortable wearing a sleeveless top in an professional setting, but I can definitely see how someone with lighter skin or less extreme hyperpigmentation might notice drastic results fairly quickly.

  15. Calibrachoa :

    Mainly I binge-watch and cook the more “involved” type of foods :D

  16. I usually enjoy staycations more than regular long vacations. I also like weekend vacations where I leave Friday after work, and maybe just leave work one or two hours early, and then take a short flight from Reagan and return on Sunday afternoon. It’s long enough to have a change of scenery and a distraction but no so long that I use up vacation time, have to ask people to watch my cases while I am away, or return to a flooded inbox.

    • anon in DC :

      Pest, where do you usually go? I’m looking to go away for quick vacation like that, but have had trouble coming up with ideas other than going to Miami for the weekend.

      • I think Miami is a good choice. It’s very easy to get there and not too far. The last time I did this with DH we went to Nashville. We are both rock and country music fans and saw some really good live music. Some others we have coming up that we will drive to are Philadelphia (to go to a wedding but we will make a vacation out of it and do some sight-seeing) and the Homestead. I am keeping my eye out for more resorts that look nice in NC or SC or New England where we can take a short flight and then rent a car. I think the key to making the most out of a short vacation is to plan ahead, research what you want to do, buy your concert or theater tickets and make all your reservations in advance, so that when you leave you have nothing to think about but what you are doing at that moment.

  17. Does anyone have suggestions for online dating? I’m in grad school in a city where nobody really knows how anyone finds each other other than luck/friends, because people don’t really meet at bars or elsewhere. My friends and I are considering online dating and thought grouper (where three girls and three guys meet up for a group date) might be a nice way to start. I was just curious if anyone here had experience and/or advice.

  18. Thread jack- there was a post on going to the gym during the workday recently, but I have a more specific question: is it totally unprofessional for me to change into my gym clothing right before I leave work at the end of the day? I have a few reasons for doing this. It motivates me to actually go to the gym (if I have my clothes on there’s no excuse not to go) and also the locker room/changing area at my gym sucks, there’s no room, and I don’t like changing there.

    I wear long black yoga type pants and a tank, but I always make sure to bring some type of jacket to cover myself. Am I still being unprofessional? I feel like the answer might be yes, but I’m in denial.

    • anon in-house :

      The answer is definitely no! Absolutely nothing wrong with that, and if people in your office are even semi-human they will applaud your efforts.