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Until a few years ago, I was guilty of thinking a holiday only counted if you got on a plane. I know, silly right? I don’t know if it was because I’m from the UK and the UK is so small you could get pretty much anywhere in it in a day, or whether the weather is just grey and rainy in the UK and I always craved the warmth!
A few years ago I realised that there was actually so much beauty hidden in my own country that I hadn’t explored, or even attempted to explore and it was time to plan the perfect staycation, or two!
As well as that, I also realised that 99% of the time it is a lot cheaper to have a staycation in your own region or country than going abroad. After all, no airfare, no airport transfers, you might even be able to skip out on car rental if you have your own car at home and maybe you have friends or family where you’re staycationing so you can cut the cost of accommodation too!
This step by step guide gives you everything you need to help you plan the perfect staycation, whether that’s in your home town, your home state or your home country!
1. Slowly gather your research
The great thing about a staycation is that you can often be more flexible with when you can go on staycation. I’m always gathering information about my home town area or country to store away for my next staycation opportunity.
I do this with a bookmark folder in my internet browser labelled ‘Staycation ideas’ and also a folder on my Instagram. Did you know you can save photos on Instagram? Just use that little tab on the bottom right of each photo, press and hold to save to your chosen album.
2. Talk to friends and family about places they might’ve been and can recommend
Chances are you have friends and family who have been to places in your state or country that they can recommend. This might be an awesome hotel they stayed at, a cool National Park with hiking trails that you’ll love or a family-friendly activity you could fit into a staycation weekend trip.
Message your friends and family, post on Facebook or just Facebook groups in your local area to find recommendations.
3. Use Instagram and Pinterest for inspiration
This is my number one go to source for inspiration. I’ve already mentioned Instagram a bit, but try searching by your location on Instagram - go to search, type your location, then click ‘Places’ tab at the top, underneath the search bar.
This will show all the photos published under that location tag and it can show you some beautiful places and ideas you might never have considered or even heard of before in your state or area. You can be as specific or as broad as you want, sometimes I’ll search for a city ‘Melbourne’ or I’ll pick a region nearby and search for ‘East Gippsland’ or ‘Great Ocean Road’ for some nearby inspiration for trips to do on a weekend.
You can also do the same thing if you search by hashtag.
Pinterest is another amazing source, it’s a visual search engine and there are ideas for everything. Weekend staycation ideas? Yes. Craft ideas to do at home? Yes. Family-friendly hikes in your area? Of course. Pinterest is a treasure trove of information other people have complied to help you. Search by your town, state or region and use more specific terms to delve deeper into the ideas. Or use the suggested words at the top of each search page.
4. Look at the tourism board website for your town, state or country and explore their social media accounts
This is also an underrated source of information that you would probably never consider checking since you’re a resident of your state or country. The tourism board websites showcase the best of your region or country and everything it has to offer. They have tips for rainy day activities, family friendly pages, romantic getaway articles, itineraries for vacations in the area.
It’s easy to forget that tourists do visit your home town/state/country, but the tourism board websites are to attract visitors and show the best of the region. Chances are you will learn there are some amazing things to see and do in your area that you didn’t know about.
As well as their website, don’t forget to check their social media too. I love to check their Facebook for local events happening or Instagram for photography ideas.
5. Think about those places that you’ve been to but not really explored
Is there somewhere you once visited or drove through and thought you’d love to go back and see more of? Make a note of these places because they’d make a perfect staycation.
For example, I’ve been to Edinburgh and Glasgow plenty of times before but I’ve never explored the Scottish Highlands. That’s definitely a staycation road trip I want to take one day.
You might like 5 Ideas for a Weekend away in the UK.
6. Is there somewhere nearby you’ve always been interested in?
Similar to the point above, is there somewhere nearby or in your country or region that you’ve always bookmarked to visit ‘one day’? Or somewhere you’ve said you’ll treat yourself to one day? Maybe a nice hotel or spa? A vineyard or any upcoming events you’ve always wanted to see in your home country, like the horse races, Grand Prix, sports competitions or yoga retreats.
Staycations are all about doing something completely different and getting out of your normal routine but in your own town or country. So now is the time to visit that place you’ve always bookmarked for ‘another time’!
A great way to find somewhere unique to stay is to use the unique stays feature on Airbnb to find interesting places near you to stay, it could be a treehouse, a bubble house, a converted church, you name it!
If you’re in the UK, check out my 6 Unique Secluded Places to stay in the UK.
7. Decide the kind of trip you want and work backwards
There’s almost endless options on a staycation, it can feel overwhelming when a lot of options are in easy reach and you’re not restricted by flight times or how far you can travel from a resort by foot!
So decide on the kind of trip you want first and work backwards. Is this a romantic getaway for you and your partner? Maybe it’s a family weekend packed full of activities? Maybe it’s in winter and you’re looking for some indoor activities or perhaps you want to get outside for some outdoor adventures?
Decide what kind of staycation you want then work backwards. Do you have a car available? If not then that limits your distance, start looking in the nearby area. Do you want action or relaxation? Then start looking at the tourism board website for local activities that fit what you’re looking for. If you have a car then research weekend road trips in your area.
8. Decide what your mode of transport is and work backwards
As above, your mode of transport will determine how far you can go on your staycation. If you have a car then road trip options are a great idea. Perhaps you’re only using public transport, in which case make sure you check train times and if your location is accessible by public transport.
Can you stay in a hotel or spa in your town, in which case you could walk or take a taxi.
9. Decide on your budget and stick to it
This advice is the same for any kind of vacation, but if you have a budget, make sure you stick to it. It can be easy to get carried away, but remember that if you’re saving money on flights by having a staycation closer to home, is that extra flight money additional spending money? Or is this staycation to help you save money towards the future?
Perhaps you’re creating a staycation in your own house, this is a great money saver and a fantastic way to set a budget to splurge on a few nicer things without going overboard - perhaps a really nice meal and wine? An at-home spa kit? A movie projector night?
Click here for more Ideas on How to Plan a Staycation at Home.
10. Still treat yourself like you would usually on holiday
A staycation is still supposed to be a vacation, so make sure you act like it! Don’t take work with you or be tempted to check emails. Spend quality time with your partner, family or on your own.
Staycations are even more of a reason to get out of your normal routine, so make sure to switch off and enjoy your staycation, whether it's at home or in the surrounding area, whether it’s a relaxing spa weekend or an action-packed hiking adventure.
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Flights: I use Expedia to find great flights and the best deals all over the world, they have regular sales and offers so I always check their website. I also check CheapOair to find cheap deals on round trip flights.
Car Rental: I love the customer service I've always gotten and the variety of options with Rental Cars. But for short notice rentals, I've been using Expedia for the last year, they always seem to have great one-day rates or last-minute rates from the main rental companies.
Accommodation: I prefer the flexibility of booking accommodation with Booking.com so I can cancel or change my reservation without a fee or only pay on arrival for most properties. For longer or more unique stays I prefer AirBnB because you can get the long stay discount, you can also find more unique properties and book experiences with talented locals and businesses. For my budget trips, I always stay in hostels and book through Hostelworld because they have great guarantees if anything does go wrong. If you arrive and your booking is not at the property, they refund the full deposit AND give you $50 extra credit.
Tours and organised trips Although I don’t use tours that often, I do like to book local experiences or day trips once I reach my destination. For that I use GetYourGuide because it has the biggest selection and variety of tour and experience options.
Travel Insurance: For all my longer trips and for the entire year I’ve spent in Australia, my partner and I have always used World Nomads. They cover everything I need and I can buy coverage for a year at a time, they also allow you to purchase cover when you’re already outside your home country. Plus my camera gear and equipment is covered and they also have special cover for when I’m scuba diving too.
My camera gear and equipment: I use a Canon 77D with an 18-135mm lens or a 50mm lens. And a DJI Mavic Mini Drone. For all my gear including laptops, tripods and more camera accessories read my travel photography gear guide.