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30 Best Staycation Ideas - Treat Yourself on a Budget

By: Susan Finch
August 14, 2020

After months of sheltering in place and limiting travel, it's normal to feel stir-crazy. The good news is, you can still capture that travel state of mind without ever leaving your apartment or city.

Make the most of your time with a staycation! That way, you can treat yourself without actually traveling.

What is a Staycation?

A staycation is like a vacation, only you don’t leave your home, neighborhood, or state. The idea of a staycation is to feel carefree and #TreatYoSelf as if you’re on a traditional trip. Not sure where to get started? Here are thirty staycation ideas for weeks of fun.

1. Order Takeout and Drinks from a Fancy Restaurant

Instead of spending your travel budget on hotels and airfare, focus on the food instead. Make your staycation into a special occasion with takeout, beer, or cocktails from a fancy restaurant. Have it delivered right to your door.

Remember to choose a dessert and set everything up on a tablecloth. Bring out your most elegant dishes!

2. Settle in for a Movie Marathon

Get lost in your favorite movies and travel documentaries at home. Grab some hot, buttery popcorn and treats and invite friends to join virtually. Your friends can launch the Netflix Party option to watch your marathon together in real-time.

3. Indulge in an At-Home Spa Day

Just because you're on a staycation doesn't mean you have to skip the pampering. Order your favorite essential oils for your diffuser. Stock up on scrubs and lotions and fill a hot bath. Add Epson salts and bubbles to take a long soak while listening to zen music worthy of a spa.

4. Explore Local Parks

Take a retreat to your local parks and explore the beaches, mountains, and lakes for a day to recharge. Urban parks are also ideal for nature trails, people watching, and picnics where you’ll always see something new.

5. Book a Virtual Workout

Take your staycation to a whole new level with a virtual workout. Book a personal trainer or class and focus on getting your body and mind into top shape. Make it your goal to come out of this pandemic happier and more centered than you were before.

6. Take Yourself on an Online Shopping Spree

Many people preferred online shopping even before COVID-19 ever came into play. Indulge in your staycation with an online shopping spree you’ll never forget. Make a wish list of new clothes, linens, housewares, entertainment, and more to outfit your apartment from top to bottom.

7. Redecorate your Home

Staying home is the perfect time to redecorate your apartment. Think big with a fresh coat of landlord-approved paint, a new rug, artwork, and furniture. If you're on a budget, decluttering and adding a few small pieces can still make your place feel brand new.

8. Book a Virtual Cooking or a Cocktail-Making Class

Make it your goal to learn a new skill during the pandemic. Book a virtual cooking or cocktail-making class and learn how to whip up a work of art. You can even recreate it to impress a loved one that you're sheltering in place with.

9. Take a Break from Social Media

A staycation is all about your state of mind and giving yourself some space from your daily life. Unplug from social media.

Engage with people you barely know to embrace a feeling of peace, relaxation, and that vacation state of mind you miss. The best part is, no selfies of your staycation are required.

10. Go Camping

Travel and hotel-hopping may be up in the air during coronavirus. However, you can still get away overnight.

Pitch a tent, rent a yurt, or grab a cabin with your quarantine buddies. Then, enjoy a night of social distancing under the stars.

11. Get Creative with a Paint & Wine Night

Skip the boozy night out on the town and get creative with a paint and wine night at home. Your favorite bottle of wine and paint-by-number kit is a fun way to start creating a work of art. We won't tell your friends you had a little help if you don't.

12. Go on an Urban Hike

Parks and greenspace are a welcome reprieve from city living. However, urban hikes can also feel like a refreshing getaway.

Chart out a walk through your city. Spend a few hours exploring new neighborhoods, window shopping, and discovering new haunts.

13. Travel Virtually

Satisfy the travel itch by traveling virtually this year. Load up Google Earth and watch travel documentaries.

Visit the Smithsonian's online collection of film, photos, landscapes, maps, and travel-inspired artwork. You'll feel like you're getting away from it all.

14. Foster a Pet

Is your landlord okay with pets on the premises? Step into a brand new chapter of your life as a pet foster parent. From dogs to cats and rabbits, you can find a pet that needs a home without the long-term commitment.

15. Rent a Boat or Kayak

Glide out onto the water by renting a boat or kayak in your area and enjoy the solitude. Urban parks also offer canoe and kayak rentals for city dwellers to enjoy. Make sure to share your plans with friends who can check-in to see if you're back or join a social distancing Meetup Group.

16. Go to a Drive-In

Capture some nostalgia with a classic drive-in movie night experience. Arrive early to get set up.

Grab snacks from the concession stand and enjoy some fresh air. Some drive-ins even offer a place to pitch a tent or rent a camper for an overnight getaway.

17. Go Geocaching

Turn your hike into an adventure with geocaching. With the help of your smartphone, you can find stashes and hidden surprises. You'll feel like you're on a treasure hunt with virtual strangers who have left you treasures from the past.

18. Take in an Exhibit

Many art museums are opening up again with some restrictions. However, you can also stay home and soak up your favorite exhibits online.

The best part is, you can travel around the world to see any exhibit you want by visiting global museum websites and apps.

19. Indulge in a Pool Day

Research the restrictions of your area pools or apartment complex amenities and plan accordingly. Bring a towel, favorite book, snacks, and distance appropriately while enjoying a soak in the pool. You'll feel so relaxed you'll start to feel like it's like any other summer day from your past.

20. Go on a Roadside Attraction Drive

Do you live in a state with quirky roadside attractions and oddities? Create an itinerary and load up on your favorite tunes to set off on an oddball adventure. Make it feel like a real vacation by posting your favorite finds on Instagram.

21. Get All New Bedding

Recreate the luxurious feeling of resort bedding right in your bedroom. Order new sheets, duvets, blankets, pillows, and throws. Then, settle in for an incredible night's sleep.

Some chocolates on your turned-down sheets and a vase of fresh flowers wouldn't hurt, either.

22. Create a Tasting Menu

Why eat just one thing for dinner when you can put together a varied tasting menu instead? Order in or discover new favorite dishes in small portions to savor the night. This idea gets bonus points for creating a tasting menu representing flavors from around the world.

23. Enjoy a Picnic Outdoors

Skip the brown-bag lunch and buy a gorgeous picnic basket instead. Fill it with your favorite beverages, cheeses, olives, snacks, and desserts. Then, spread out in a park for an afternoon reconnecting with nature.

24. Take a Bike Ride

Now’s the time to take that long bike ride and rediscover your city. Push yourself to hit a new goal and see something new along the way. Bring an icy cold bottle of water with fresh-cut fruit to enhance that vacation vibe.

25. Reimagine Your Outdoor Space

If you're tired of looking at your apartment walls, reimagine your backyard or outdoor space, instead. Go for a cozy hygge vibe and add soft blankets, string lights, board games, and music.

Remember to serve your favorite comfort foods and drinks for the feeling that you've escaped to somewhere new.

26. Fly a Kite

Revisit some of your favorite childhood hobbies, like flying a kite. Choose a breezy day, bring along a picnic, and enjoy the feeling of soaring in the sky. This staycation is even more satisfying if you pick out an ornate, colorful, over-the-top kite to commemorate the day.

27. Take in the Views

Travelers are adept at finding the best vantage points from any city. Pick out a handful of hills, towers, and vantage points where the views take your breath away. Bring some food and beverages and take it all in.

28. Watch an Animal Livestream

There's nothing like seeing baby pandas playing or penguins exploring their aquariums while the crowds stay home. Load your favorite animal livestreams and enjoy the whimsical feeling of exploring a new attraction.

29. Visit Disney Virtually

Find out if Disney is still the happiest place on earth by enjoying the rides and the theme park virtually. You can even “travel” to Anaheim, Orlando, Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong, or Paris to find the best Disney park for you. The best part is, you won't have to deal with the summer heat or long lines. Just hop on YouTube and start your Disney adventures.

30. Document Your Staycation

Who says you can't document your staycation just because you're hanging around at home? Make it humorous! Take snaps of redecorating your apartment, cook, explore your city with hashtags, and include influencer-worthy selfies.

Wherever you go on your staycation, stay safe, and enjoy the change of pace. You'll love the travel state of mind whether or not you ever leave your neighborhood.

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Susan Finch is a freelance writer and content manager focusing on local experiences, travel, and anything relating to really good food and craft brews. Her work has appeared in travel guidebooks and national magazines and newspapers. Read More
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