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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…

So, you’ve decided to do solo travel and move abroad for continuing your studies, taking that position in your dream job, discovering a new culture or simply for the weather. From the moment you’ll take this decision until the day you’re stepping onto the plane, chances are you’re going to experience a bunch of different feelings.

Excitement gives way to stress then again happiness switching to regret for leaving your beloved ones behind and finally fear for the unknown. Don’t panic! It doesn’t mean you haven’t made the right choice it’s just how it goes.  All you need is to follow some tips about solo travel that never failed those making this step. 

Travel like a boss(ette): You want to have that unforgettable solo travel experience, too?! But maybe you have a lot of concerns about this plan, maybe friends and family are afraid as well. No worries, you should read our article about the best & safest world destinations for women travelling alone. Just to make sure…!

Preparation: Proper online research

Nowadays, there are dozens of articles online about every single country, city, neighborhood and solo travel anyway. Make sure to make proper online research to get a taste of the city’s atmosphere as well as find out what each area has to offer. In that way, you’ll start looking forward to discovering all these new places and before you know it you’ll have made a list of the things and places to see first.   

Connect with people: Use your social media

Connect via Social Media while solo travel

Facebook is a great tool for connecting with people you’ve never met before, especially for those moving abroad solo. You’ll find dozens of groups for expats, solo travelers and foreigners providing plenty of information useful to newcomers. And the best part is that these people have gone are about to go through the same experience.

Don’t hesitate to write a post about when you’re arriving in the country, asking for some tips or express a concern you might have. You’ll get many replies and potentially some new friends. 

Also connect with your future colleagues 

If you’re moving abroad for a new job, things will be much easier. The company or the institute you’ll start working will most likely provide all the necessary information and there will be a person to answer your questions.

However, you can do more than that. Connect with your future colleagues via Linkedin or Facebook and ask them about their experience in the country as well as propose to meet in person for a cup a coffee or a tour in the city. 

Do you have questions like that: “But, won’t I be lonely all by myself? How weird will I look sitting alone in a restaurant? What about security? Will I be safe?” Fine, solo travel doesn’t have to be that lonely after all!

Book the right plane tickets

You don’t want to arrive in the new country one day before heading to your new job or university. Make sure to book tickets for at least one week before your starting date. This will give you the opportunity to explore the new city and be familiarised with your new house and neighborhood.  Plus, you’ll have enough time to learn which means of public transportation you’ll have to use to move from and to your home as well as around the city. This makes your solo travel experience much easier.

Feel like home: Print photos of your beloved ones back home

Happy memories of your family and friends while solo travel

We don’t want to get sentimental but trust us, a time will come when you’ll feel the need to decorate your room with photos of your beloved ones back home or simply take a look at them. You probably already have hundreds of photos in your laptop but nothing compares to the real thing. Print some of your favorite moments and place them in your room where you can see them whenever you feel lonely on you solo travel adventure. 

Communication: Learn the language while solo travel

If you don’t speak the local language, one of the first things to do after you settle in is to enroll in a language program. Being able to communicate with locals not only will improve your social life but will also help you with everyday chores.

Don’t hesitate to start using phrases or even just words already from the early stage of your language learning journey even if you haven’t mastered the accent yet. It won’t take long until you’ll be rewarded for your try. 

Keep in touch with Skype..

Downloading Skype is a no-brainer and you probably already have it installed but we couldn’t avoid including it in our list as it is super important. Keeping in touch with your family and friends in your birthplace is what will help you cope with those moments when you feel alone or worried about what’s going on back home.  

These are cool apps to stay in contact with friends and family at home. But moreover, don’t forget to send postcards of the best moments of your adventure. We from MyPostcard help you to send your own pictures as real postcards.. worldwide!

…And an International calling card

Phonecalls or skype calls are important while solo traveling

Ok, Skype, Viber, WhatsApp and all of these online communication platforms come in handy and you should definitely use them but there will be some moments when you’ll just need to make a good old traditional phone call. There are plenty of telecommunication companies offering prepaid sims, card for international calls or cheap call rates to hundreds of countries around the world. Choose the one that fits your needs best and call your friends for a chit chat as if you still were two blocks away.  

Make the best out of your solo travel time

The sooner you realize that this will be your daily life for weeks, months and years ahead, the sooner you’ll start soaking up the experience. Spend each day as if it’s the last one in this city, be open to new people and don’t be afraid to make new friends. You may never live abroad again in your life and you don’t want to regret for the things you didn’t do. 

Don’t lose touch with your friends back home

Eventually, you’ll make new friends and you’ll start enjoying your time in your new home. When that moment comes, it’s very important to not forget making your communication as frequent as before. Whether it’s via email, phone calls, Skype calls, you name it, don’t stop sharing your news and ask your people back home about theirs. That last thing you want is to feel like a stranger when you return back to your motherland. 

Be prepared: the time after the solo travel adventure

After a period of time in the new city, you’ll feel like you have two home countries and when the time comes to move back to your birthplace, chances are you’ll feel like you’re once more moving abroad. Getting used to the old habits might take a while and this time you’ll be missing the friends you made while living abroad. Well, that’s part of the experience as well and you can’t avoid it. All you can do is arrange frequent trips and once again, don’t lose touch. 

When you live abroad things will change anyway

Of course, after such an intensive experience of solo travel and/ or moving abroad you won’t be the same person. A lot of things will change but you’ll definitely develop yourself!

I hope these tips helped you in case you are thinking about moving abroad. Or maybe these words inspired you to think about the option of solo travel…