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By Tash Haynes

Tash Haynes runs a mamahood, travel and entrepreneurship blog called wisdomandcourage.com as well as her own photography business.

2020 has thrown a lot of curveballs, but the one that has had the biggest impact on me has been not being able to get out and travel. The thing my family misses most since our “new normal” has begun, is our ability to go, explore and see the world. Travel is a huge part of our value system as a family. It’s what educates us and keeps us connected to purpose and our small role in this big big world. It’s also what teaches us most about the people and places we hear about and encounter from day to day.

We have so seen so much purpose in travel that we are known to generally hop on a plane every 4-6 weeks and have made it a habit to go international once a year. As you can imagine, being in the house for the last 9 months had us itching to get out.

With the onset of Covid-19 around the world, our travel options have become limited and any time we decide to step out, there’s a bit of calculated risk involved. The concept of “staycation” has started to buzz around and we are hearing it come up more and more these days, as families look for alternatives to country-hopping and air travel. If done right, a staycation can be really fun and the perfect temporary solution to the travel bug.

Because I am seven-months pregnant and considered high-risk (depending on who you talk to), cross-country or international adventures aren’t the most ideal, but one thing I had initially failed to consider was a staycation. Staycations are incredible and can be ideal for times like these because they allow you to get away and experience a vacation without traveling too far, while also keeping you safe. Another advantage is that they boost the local economy, helping businesses and industries, that depend on tourism and have taken a huge hit, to thrive.

What is a Staycation?

Family enjoying the boat vacation
Copyright: Tash Haynes / @itstashhaynes

A staycation is very simply a vacation at home, within a country, province, state or city. It usually involves a quick drive – 30 minutes to a few hours – and very rarely involves a plane unless you live in a place that is large enough that it requires air travel to get around. It’s a vacation spent at home, visiting local attractions and restaurants, participating in leisure activities that can be completed within a day or a couple, depending on the magnitude.  

It is common that when you are from a place, you tend to take it for granted. There are restaurants you haven’t tried, cities you have neglected and roads you haven’t traveled. A staycation allows you to get out and explore and experience different places and activities that we might tend to overlook as travel options when we are choosing to leave for vacation vs. staying. 

You Know You’re Ready For A Staycation if…

  1. You know you need a staycation if you are tired of staying at home and are ready to get out and explore. 
  2. You’re burnt out and everything is triggering you.
  3. You are ready for a change of pace and need an escape from your real life. 
  4. You want to go on vacation but don’t want to blow your budget. 
  5. You need to fully unwind, disconnect and relax. 
  6. A worldwide pandemic restricts you from going anywhere else. 😉

Deciding on Staycation

Family with kids discussing on a boat
Copyright: Tash Haynes / @itstashhaynes

When deciding on a staycation, it might be tough to know where to begin but I tend to like to start with a few simple questions:

Duration

How long do you want to be away? What are the number of days you can reasonably be away from your home in your hometown? Do you just need one night away or several days to refresh? Once you decide on the duration, it’s time to decide on the purpose for the staycation.

Purpose

Is the staycation for relaxation? Do you just want a change of scenery? Or do you need to work on a special time-intensive project? You just want to dream big dreams? Or do you simply want to make new memories with someone special or your family? 

Budget

Now that we have zero’d in on how much time we can commit and set our intentions for our trip, the next MOST important question is budget. How much can we realistically invest in this staycation or how much do we want to spend? Is this a one-off or is this a replacement for a vacation that was going to be had away from home? Thinking about the budget will help you determine just how long you can be gone and what you can do while you are away. 

Distance

Now that we know what we can reasonably invest, the next thing to consider is proximity from home. How far are you willing to travel? Are you willing to drive the distance or will you fly, train or rent an RV/vehicle to get there. Staycations can happen in the heart of your city, right outside or a few hours away – it’s all up to you!  It’s best to choose whatever causes the least amount of stress but helps to bring you closer to your ultimate staycation goal. 

Staycation Accomplices 

Finally, the last thing to consider is who will be going on this dream-worthy staycation. Is it a solo jaunt? Will you be bringing your spouse for a little kid-free fun or will it be a family trip. Deciding who will travel with you, will help determine food choices/locations, activities and lodging. 

Planning A Staycation That Feels Like a Vacation

Waterfront with skyline
Copyright: Tash Haynes / @itstashhaynes

Reflect on Past Vacations

When planning a staycation that feels like a vacation it is important to think through vacations of the past and pull out the special moments that made that vacation fun. Was it the food? The attractions? The lodging?  Once you figure out what those things are it is important to infuse those details into your staycation. For example: my family loves lots of water time on vacation and really unique dining experiences. So whenever I choose a vacation idea, I make sure that it is water-centered: pool, ocean, water attraction and has a restaurant that is award-winning or serves up a family-friendly unique fare. I know that a lot of our special memories are around water and gathering around a table so by including those two elements, I can guarantee off the bat that everyone will be happy and that it will feel special and exciting for them. 

Consider Your Lodging Preference  

Do you like to dine in or out? Do you want your space to feel like a home away from home or can your family handle being in one room? Do you like being outdoors and sleeping under a tent? Staycations are amazing when considering lodging accommodations because in most cases every type of housing preference can be found and if you are “vacationing” close to home, you might have more of a relationship with those available options. 

Set Intentions

Set intentions and goals for your trip: how do you want to feel when you get there? How do you want to feel when you return? If the goal is relaxation, how do you get there? If it’s to get work done – how are you going to stay inspired? If it’s making memories, how do you and your family do that best? Set your ideas in motion and create the itinerary to reflect your goals. 

Get The Kids Involved

Want to make your staycation memorable and special for your little ones? Get them involved! Whether it’s allowing them to pick out the restaurant one night, or having them come up with entertainment ideas. Give your children age-appropriate special roles in the process or let them make/guide decisions and watch their faces light up with excitement. This will also help them to remember specific details of the trip if they have a special role to play in it. 

Benefits of Staycation

A mom and her child enjoying a boat ride
Copyright: Tash Haynes / @itstashhaynes

There are many benefits to a staycation and here are a few of mine. When you stay local, you get to invest in and support the local economy. Sowing into small shops and regional offers means supporting the local economy, which ultimately means supporting businesses and services that support you and that is of critical importance at this time. You get to see, eat and explore places that maybe you have thought about but never gotten around to. It’s a fun and exciting way to finally jump all in and check off your list. 

In addition to the above reasons, you get the opportunity to build relationships with local vendors, restaurant owners, hotels and outdoor environments and become familiar with parts of your city/nearby locations that you may not have known about. You’ll find out that there is something for everyone. Every budget works for staycations, making travel options available to the masses. 

To check out an example of my own staycation, visit my blog here and check out this post about my staycation in Seattle

I hope this post is a resource that helps you get up, get out and take advantage of the amazing places around you and to explore in spite of what might seem like a limited ability to travel. Still, there’s so much to see, take in and experience!


About the Author

Tash Haynes AKA @itstashhaynes runs a blog called courageandwisdom.com. In her articles, she doesn’t only focus on mommyhood and traveling with her family, but also talks about entrepreneurship. Aside from her passion for writing, she is also a photographer and runs her photography business together with her husband.

Tash believes deeply in the idea of community and is an advocate for empowering others by sharing our stories so that we all grow and find commonality. 


Stay inspired…

For food-loving travelers, the cuisine is ALWAYS an important factor when choosing a holiday destination. If not the most important. Whether it is a spicy Indian curry, a sweet Danish dessert, or a traditional Turkish kebab, each country around the world has so many delicious native dishes ready and waiting for you. But some are simply better for foodies than others. #sorrynotsorry.

If you agree that food is basically everything, check out these TOP nine cities for foodies which offer gastronomical experiences like no other… and are super exciting for sightseeing as well.

And because we love to share the best moments with our friends and family, it’s never a bad idea to send a couple of tummy-rumble inspiring pictures of the best dishes. But how oh how to take the perfect travel food picture? Phew, we’ve found out already – check it out!

#1 Delhi, India

Dry fruits in different colours on a stall
The vibrant colors of these dry fruits will blow your mind! Photo source: Shutterstock.com / tscreationz

From the finest of dining to cheap and delicious street food, Indian cuisine offers a diverse range of flavors and often uses an equally diverse range of ingredients. Often referred to as the food capital of India, Delhi has a lively street food scene, with an eclectic mix of delicious meals and snacks to choose from. Whether you would prefer chole bhature, golgappa, aloo chaat, or one of the thousands of curries out there, there is truly something for everyone. Butter Chicken is a particular fave, as well as pakodas.

#2 New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

Beignets, a typical sweet dish from New Orleans, Louisiana
Photo source: Shutterstock.com / AS Food studio

There are many states in the US which have their own regional and delicious dishes, but Louisiana, and particularly New Orleans, is absolutely one of the most distinct and arguably some of the best food around – ever.

Influenced by the multi-cultural and diverse nature of the city, the cuisine in New Orleans is a melting pot of delicious flavors. From traditional jambalaya to freshly caught crawfish, delicious vats of gumbo and sweet beignets (kind of like donuts – but more square – consisting of deep-fried dough covered in sugar. Why is sugar so gooood?).

#3 Lyon, France

Exterior view of a café in Lyon during the day
Photo source: Shutterstock.com / RossHelen

French cuisine is often revered, and a great destination for food-loving holiday-makers is, without a doubt, the city of Lyon. This is Frances’s third-largest city, located in the mid-eastern part of the country. Lyonnaise cuisine is said to have been influenced by Catherine De Medici, who brought Italian flavors with her when she moved from Florence in the 16th Century. The city is also the birthplace of the legendary chef Paul Bocuse, whose restaurant has held three Michelin Stars since 1965.

If you are looking for something a bit more relaxed, bouchons are situated throughout the city and these family-run bistros provide a warm and welcoming atmosphere as well as rustic French fare.

#4 Bangkok, Thailand

Food served on floating boats on a market
Photo source: Shutterstock.com / stockphoto mania

With a vibrant and lively culinary scene, as well as nightlife to rival basically anywhere else in the world, a holiday in Bangkok is at the top of many a bucket list. Thailand’s capital is a great destination for anyone who appreciates the glory of food, with such a diverse range of options to choose form. From Michelin-starred fine dining restaurants to authentic and delicious street food, you can discover delicious and exciting new flavors around every corner.

Pad krapow is certainly worth a try and this rice dish with meat or seafood is a classic. If you have more of a sweet tooth though, Roti Gluay is a fried banana pancake which is bound to hit the spot.

In our post on the TOP 9 vegan-friendly cities worldwide we already mentioned the delicious food in Thailand. Chiang Mai is a hotspot for all foodies, vegan and non-vegan alike!

Thailand – what an amazing destination in so many ways!

#5 Mexico City, Mexico

Woman prepares traditional mexican food in street market

With an endless array of restaurants and street food stalls providing regional foods from around the country, Mexico City is a top destination and one of the best cities for foodies from around the world. So many of us eat Mexican food on a regular basis, but, of course, it’s not just guac, burritos and tacos (even if those are super yummy!!!).

In Mexico City, there is a fabulous diversity of flavors, often using fresh ingredients and a wide array of herbs and spices. One of the best street foods in the city has to be hot tamales made from corn-based dough, cooked with herbs and stuffed to the brim, they are then wrapped in corn or banana leaves for cooking. But, fair warning.. Mexicans are renowned for a hot and flavorsome cuisine and some of native dishes are not for the fainthearted.

#6 Naples, Italy

Pizza for take-away in Naples, one of the best cities for foodies
Photo source: Shutterstock.com / MaryAbramkina

Choosing just one foodie-fantastic city in Italy was always going to be a challenge, and lots of foodies decide to take a gastronomical tour of the country; with so many places being famous for their cuisines. But, given that Naples is the birthplace of pizza, we think this decision is justified. Whether you opt for the classic Margherita or fancy something different, this is a must-visit for anyone who appreciates this Italian classic.

However Naples isn’t all about pizza – the city is also world renewed for its gelato and has a fabulous range of pastries and baked treats. (The best gelato places in Italy, you ask? Find them all here.

#7 Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Display of a typical bakery with sweets in Santiago de Compostela
Photo source: Shutterstock.com / Pieruschka

How do you single out one Spanish city for their amazing food when the whole nation is associated with some of the best on the planet? It’s a problem we ate our way through, arriving at Santiago de Compostela…

With octopus, garlic prawns, and the mouth-wateringly sweet tarta de Santiago, you are not going to be disappointed with Galician food. If you are heading out for lunch, we suggest you opt for the menu option. This usually contains three courses and a cerveza (meaning of course, beer).

#8 Istanbul, Turkey

Kebab on grill with skewers in Istanbul as one of the best cities for foodies
Photo source: Shutterstock.com / Hakan Tanak

Turkey is one of the best places for foodies that is world-renowned for its delicious food, and it has many similarities to other countries on the Mediterranean. One of the highlights of the food scene in Istanbul has to be street stalls selling Midye Dolma, tender mussels stuffed with rice, herbs and a squeeze of lemon.

A typical dish is simit, a freshly baked sesame rolls, acma, and so on. The number one place to enjoy raki, Turkey’s national drink, and freshly caught balik, or fish, is fittingly the Galata bridge, with fabulous views of the sun going down on the Bosporus in the evening.

#9 Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Banh mi as a traditional vietnamese dish
Photo source: Shutterstock.com / xuanhuongho

The pure diversity of flavor in Ho Chi Minh City makes this one of the must-visit destinations for foodies in 2020. Also known by its former name of Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City has a population of 8.2 million.

Whilst it is a cosmopolitan metropolis, you can find elements of the traditional located throughout, and this is especially reflected within the cuisine. Both nutritious and delicious, dishes include rice noodles, seafood, pork, and beef.

A must-try is the banh mi, a quintessential Vietnamese dish which is perfect for a mid-day snack. Imagine a baguette in the french style but mixed with typical Vietnamese ingredients: coriander, fish sauce, and other vegetables. Super yummy!

Cities for foodies: #10 is your call!

Surprise! Our list of the best cities for foodies has a space left.. can you fill it? We’re guessing everybody has had a mouth-watering experience of their own while traveling. Tell us about it!

Fight for your favorite and help everyone find little bit of (yummy) motivation for 2020 at the same time!

Closing note – there’s no such thing as a bikini body anyway! 🙂