Whenever the travel bug bites, it’s incredibly tempting to book a ticket to a new city or country to explore. However, jet-setting or even spending a weekend away isn’t always feasible due to limited vacation days or financial restrictions. If you’ve found yourself in that boat, don’t worry. Taking time to explore your own city through the lens of a tourist can be just as satisfying — and I’m sure you’ll discover pockets of your city with new-to-you hidden gems or hot spots that you didn’t know existed.
Clear Your Calendar
What a I love about staycations is that they force you to slow down and plan a weekend that’s all about getting out, dining out, and giving yourself an out from your to-do list. In order to fully be present and get the most out of the time in your city, you need to clear your calendar. Take time off from work and other responsibilities to play hooky around the city. Extend your weekend by adding in Monday and Tuesday for a four-day adventure. Additional time away from the office will distance you from your 9-to-5 job, making you feel more relaxed and refreshed when you do make it back. This also means shirking your to-do lists at home. The chores and projects will be there when you “return” to your normal routine, just like they would when you go out of town.
Do Your Research
Why not approach your staycation the way you would a full vacation? Pick up a local guidebook and scour travel websites to find museums, activities, and events. Check Yelp for new restaurants to try. Peek at Instagram and see what others are geotagging. Add all of these ideas to a Google Map so you can start to plan your adventure. When you live in a city, it’s easy to become complacent and overlook the attractions that make your city appealing to visitors. By approaching your city like a newcomer, you’ll have a renewed appreciation for your hometown – and you’ll be able to recommend activities to other visitors afterward.
Plan Your Itinerary
After you’ve earmarked a handful of activities, plan an itinerary that includes restaurants and bars to visit, along with all of the must-see activities you’d like to do. By creating a fun-filled checklist, you won’t feel tempted to just head home and kick back on the couch the rest of the day, which leads me to my next suggestion…
Stay at a Hotel
If your budget allows — and since you saved a ton of cash on the expense of getting to a destination — treat yourself to a hotel for at least one night during your staycation. Pack your suitcase (love this one) and splurge on a spot in the city’s most bustling area to stay out late, and then sleep in the next day and order room service. If your hotel has a spa, even better. Breaking your routine — and physically getting away from the chores at home — will make you feel like you had a true getaway.
As with vacation, you’ll want to document the fun! Take your camera and snap photos throughout the city, making sure to appreciate the unique features and interesting architectural design you might otherwise overlook. I did this when I worked with Toyota earlier this year on a “48 Hours in Madison” post. Embracing my local tourist made the weekend so much fun and I had a renewed appreciation for the city. Post your photos on social media and tag your local convention and visitors’ bureau and use any hashtags your city and state’s tourism board uses on their social media. It’s a fun way to show off how fabulous your hometown can be and they just might share your image!
image via Unsplash