If you’ve been putting off a vacation, now is the perfect time to stop and finally commit to some time off. Though you may not be able to travel to far-off places, you still need time to relax and recharge (even if your vacation destination is the living room couch).
If you’re still working from home, you may not want to squander precious paid time off just to sit around the house some more.
But if you’re like most remote workers, you’ve likely felt your work-life balance strained over the last several months, as work boundaries and life boundaries intersect and blur in the ‘new normal’. Taking a staycation is the perfect way to re-balance your priorities and connect with loved ones.
Not to mention that not taking time off can have pretty dire consequences. A multinational study from 2015 found that employees who continuously work long hours without a break are more likely to develop coronary heart disease and stroke. And since many employees struggle to unplug from work (as many as 40% of remote employees surveyed by Remote.co), burnout is a destination many of us will be heading to, unless we get adequate rest.
Worried about work piling up if you take off for a week? Research consistently shows that employees who regularly take time off come back to work more productive and creative than those who take vacations less often.
So, pull up your calendar, block out your staycation and get to planning with these eight easy steps:
1. Start with a bucket list
Make a list of things you can do within 20 miles of your home, whether that’s hiking, visiting a museum or going to the beach, then add in things you can do at home, like make s’mores, build a fort with the kids or camp in your backyard. Social media, especially Pinterest, is a rich resource for staycation bucket lists, if you’re looking for inspiration.
2. Add in a hobby you haven’t tried yet
Maybe you bought a bicycle earlier in the year but only took it out once or twice. Now is the time to add a bike ride to your to-do list. Or maybe you always wanted to learn about photography but didn’t get a chance to. Time to scour the web for articles or free courses you can take during staycation.
3. Build an itinerary
If you usually like to browse and meander when visiting a new place, know that this technique probably won’t work for a staycation. Chances are, an unplanned day at home will find you scrolling social media, wandering around the house in PJs and likely ending up in front of the fridge more often than you’d like.
To make the most of your at-home vacation days it pays to have a plan. There’s no need to schedule out every hour but knowing what you’re going to do each day can help your staycation feel more special and more like a true break.
4. Check for crowds and opening times
With the pandemic still affecting hours and availability, be sure to check that your destination is open. If it is, double check for restricted hours or reservation requirements. You may also want to read online reviews to see if places are crowded and when the best time to visit may be.
5. Say no to emails and phone calls
Two-thirds of professionals surveyed by LinkedIn confessed that they check their emails and answer work calls on vacation. Considering that for many of us work laptops will be just a few steps away during staycation, the temptation to squeeze some work in will be stronger than ever. Be prepared to resist.
- Unplug your workstation and put away your laptop.
- Delete or hide the email or Slack app on your mobile device.
- Set clear expectations with your team and supervisor about how your work will be handled while you’re away.
- Keep yourself busy with non-work activities – this is when that itinerary will come in handy.
What about work emergencies? Talk to your manager and your team ahead of time, so you can mutually agree on work situations you’ll need to know about right away.
6. Take self-care to the next level
Self-care has been a buzzword for the last couple of years, and maybe you’ve been trying to practice it as best you can during the past months. But since staycation is one big exercise in self-care anyway, it’s time to kick it up a notch:
- Sleep in (for at least for a couple of days).
- Do what you want – get that book you’ve been meaning to get to and read it, conquer a new workout program or make an ambitious dessert.
- If you’ve been feeling lonely, set aside time to connect with others; if you’ve been feeling hemmed in, try to get away for a couple of hours.
7. Change up your routine
Make your staycation feel different from the average Tuesday. If you’re typically an early riser, let yourself sleep in a little bit. On the other hand, if you’re usually not a morning person, try to get up earlier and treat yourself to a morning walk.
8. Go cold-turkey on the news
Being informed is important, but sometimes we all need a break from the headlines. If you can’t disconnect completely, set a time limit for how long you can spend on your phone each day. Embrace focusing on your break so you can handle the real world that much better when you return.
And above all, treat this “get-away” like the special time it is and make sure to take photos of the time you spend with friends and family. With a bit of planning, you can have a staycation worth remembering in the years to come.