Staycations During the Pandemic

A vacation is a great way to escape the monotony and responsibilities of everyday life and to have fun, explore new places and try new things. Unfortunately, traveling for vacation isn't always realistic if money is tight or you have time restrictions, or there are unusual circumstances, such as health concerns during a pandemic. Despite such obstacles, there are plenty of ways to enjoy a refreshing break and memorable staycation. 

Camp Out 

Who says you have to head to the mountains to camp out? You can easily recreate the camping experience in your own backyard (or living room, if you prefer). Just pitch a tent or make a blanket fort using a clothesline and stakes. Grab lots of pillows and blankets to make it cozy! Build a campfire in a fire pit or fireplace. If that isn't an option, light a few big candles for ambiance. Also, plan and cook a special camping meal, and don't forget to roast marshmallows for yummy s' mores. 

While you're camping out, tell spooky stories and play games. And don't forget about stargazing. Just download a phone app that tells you which stars or planets you're looking at. If you're camping indoors, use a star-gazing machine that projects on the ceiling. 

Travel into a Book  

Is there a particular time or place you'd love to travel to? In books, the universe is the limit. You can visit imaginary places such as Treasure Island and enter its world of pirates or go to Hogwarts with Harry Potter. You could also experience growing up in Kabul in The Kite Runner. Have you ever wanted to live in Denmark? Then pick up a copy of We, The Drowned. How about living with chimps? Try Next of Kin by Roger Fouts. Want to visit Africa? Read Dark Star Safari. 

For a family vacation, decorate and dress up, cook special foods and plan activities to match the theme of the book. Read parts of it together, or watch a movie based on the book.

Enjoy Theme Park Magic

Visit your favorite theme park without leaving home. Draw or print pictures from your computer and hang them indoors and outdoors to create the atmosphere. Make some of your favorite themed foods like Disneyland's churros, beignets or dole whip. Disney offers many of its official recipes online. You can also find recreated recipes with a quick online search. Make up a few fun carnival games, and don't forget to pick up some prizes. Have everyone dress as if they're going to the park. Then watch YouTube videos of your theme park's favorite rides, shows and fireworks for a more authentic experience. 

Take a Trip 'Round the World 

If you'd like to travel to a different country or a particular place, have a theme day or week. Don't forget your (homemade) passports! To prepare for this staycation, learn about the place and the culture, and research what unique things there are to do, see or eat. Print out pictures of the location and the landmarks. Research the type of regional or international eats you'd find there. Then prepare one, or even a day's worth of meals, snacks and beverages to bring the experience to life. Or order carryout from a local restaurant that serves the fare. 

Don't forget to play the music that's traditional to your area of travel. Also, learn a new game that's popular there, flip through tour books and watch travel videos or movies that were filmed there.

Enjoy the Luxury of a Spa Day 

A home spa day is a perfect way to enjoy the benefits while staying at home. If you have kids, involve them, or have another adult be in charge so you can have some time to yourself. Put on a soft robe and slippers, then draw a bath with all the works for a mani, pedi, facial and hair treatment. Add to the ambiance by creating a steam room with the shower. Light candles, play relaxing music or try aromatherapy. Incorporate whatever helps you relax and feel refreshed.  

Take a Day at the Water Park 

Recreating a water park experience is a fun and easy way to enjoy the heat. If you have a pool, add some water toys and games. If you don't have a pool, fill up baby or splash pools. Some come with fun features, such as a blow-up slide or an attached bounce house. Slip-n-slides and sprinklers are another fun way to spend hours running around getting wet. You can even just attach a hose to a plastic bottle with holes in it for some quick, cheap fun. Add some extra excitement with a water balloon or squirterfight. 

Explore Your Hometown

Often, we're so busy and caught up in our daily routines that we forget to take advantage of the special things to do in our local area. 

Treat your hometown like a tourist would. Research it online as if you're planning to visit. Also, ask other locals for ideas and check with your local library, Chamber of Commerce, or parks and recreation departments for suggestions. Even with the pandemic, cities and towns might have special events.

A vacation isn't complete without enjoyable eating experiences. Try local restaurants for take-out (or dine-in if possible) that you’ve never tried before, as well as coffee shops, ice cream places, or anyplace else that you love or haven't tried. Order carryout and head to a quiet, nearby park to practice social distancing.

Outdoor activities are often part of a fun-filled vacation. So look up nearby parks, preserves, rivers, lakes, hiking, or other outdoor sites. Things to do include bicycling, hiking, picnicking, flying kites, swimming, kayaking and more. 

Regardless of your budget, situation or time constraints, there are plenty of fun, memorable staycation ideas to enjoy at home.  

Kimberly Blaker is a freelance lifestyle writer who can be found at