Skip large crowds and consider a staycation

mature couple in backyard in bathrobes drinking juice and having a spa
Photo by karenfoleyphotography/Shutterstock

Classic holiday time like March break is a great time for a vacation—which is why you shouldn’t go on vacation during March Break (or other similarly popular holidays). That might sound like an oxymoron, but it’s actually completely logical. Big holidays mean that airports, resorts, and popular vacation spots tend to be jammed with crowds—the beach is full of partiers, the prices are higher, and it’s more difficult to find moments of peace. In essence, it can be hard to enjoy your holiday when everyone else is enjoying theirs.

So instead of a vacation during peak dates, we suggest a more peaceful alternative: a staycation. When you stay home during your time off, you’re more likely to reach that ever-elusive holiday goal: relaxation. But, that doesn’t mean you have to stick to your same old routine. There are many ways to make staycations fun and exciting—and you can even put the money you save on travel costs towards activities, instead of on stressful flights and expensive hotels.

Here are our tips for having the best staycation ever.

Try something new

When you visit a new city, you tend to be more willing to go out on a limb. You try new restaurants, explore different neighbourhoods, and really investigate your surroundings. So, to have a great staycation, you need to find a way to enter this mindset without leaving home. Check out a new area of town. Go into interesting shops. Try a restaurant you’ve never been to before. Don’t fall back on your old favourites—the whole point is to explore. You’ll probably find things you never knew existed in your own neighbourhood.

Explore local landmarks

Ever notice how when you’re on vacation, you’re suddenly totally open to checking out tourist traps and cultural buildings? Because of this adventurous vacation mindset, it’s usually visitors rather than locals who actually take the time to go see towers, zoos and aquariums, museums, but you don’t actually have to go somewhere else to see attractions. Make like a tourist and check out local landmarks in your own city. Pay the entrance fee and see what visiting tourists are so eager to see. Even if the spot itself doesn’t completely blow your mind, just making the effort to go will put you into vacation mode. And don’t forget your commemorative penny!

Go to a show

Theatres and concert halls are spaces most of us rarely visit and usually its on special occasions. Make your staycation a special occasion and get tickets to a show. Go see some live theatre, or enjoy a big concert you wouldn’t normally fork out for. Lots of big broadway shows tour North America, so you can see world-class theatre almost anywhere, and most cities have local theatre companies with great programming. Likewise, you can enjoy touring or local acts almost any day of the week. You may not usually notice your local arts scene, but if you go looking for it, you’ll discover a world full of exciting events.

Go on a hike

Something about vacationing makes people more willing to go hiking or check out local trails. But, you don’t have to go elsewhere to see beautiful scenery—if you live in Canada, you’re probably already surrounded by amazing natural beauty. It’s just one of the perks of this country. Take a day trip outside the city and find a hiking trail. You’ll definitely start to see your surrounding area in a whole new way.

Have a party or barbecue

March break, for example, is a bit of a party holiday, and you can embrace the spirit by hosting a get-together of your own. Fire up the barbecue, or have a potluck, and invite as few or as many guests as you’d like. It can be formal, informal, themed, small and intimate, or an outright “rager.” To turn a phrase: create the party you want to see in the world.

Make your home into an oasis

There’s no place like home—especially for relaxing. So, the next time you’re on holiday, make your home feel like a place you’d pay to stay. Go shopping and get a range of food and snacks to have on hand, creating your own personal minibar. Buy a spread of magazines and lounge in a bathrobe reading. Take a bubble bath. Anything that makes you feel pampered or relaxed is a top priority.

Get dressed up and go for drinks

Find the nicest local cocktail bar and make an event of going there. Whether you want to go on a date or meet up with friends, you can give the event a sense of occasion by dressing up and splurging a little. If you don’t drink, most cocktail bars can make virgin drinks, so don’t fall back on a boring soda. Go all out—and stay out late!

Go to the spa

You don’t have to go out of town to have a spa day. Find the top-rated spa in your area and go get a massage or treatment. Lounge in a hot tub and drink herbal tea. Take the money you saved on airfare, and spend it on the most expensive scrub or massage on offer.

Go to a hotel

If you’re really missing the typical vacation experience, then have a one-night hotel vacation in your hometown. Find a great hotel with a nice restaurant, room service, and huge beds, and pretend you’re someplace far away. From the hotel pool, you won’t be able to tell you’re not on a tropical island.

Take pictures

Sometimes, the main takeaway from a vacation is the photo album. A vacation album documents your experience, capturing the great moments and giving the trip a sense of narrative. Document your staycation as you would a vacation and get shots of yourself enjoying local activities and events, document the scenery, and stage awkward-yet-endearing group shots. And when it’s all done, put it all in a book, so that you can reminisce about your favourite vacation spot—home.

Also on RNR: