CPA INSIDER

How to have a successful staycation

You don’t need to leave home to recharge after the busy season.
By Anslee Wolfe

Now that the busy tax season is over, you can relax and reenergize without leaving your hometown. Experts say a stay-at-home vacation, or staycation, can be even better than jetting away. There's no packing, lining up a housesitter, waiting in lines at airports, or experiencing flight delays.

"Travel is stressful. Staycations are not, because you're doing things you know are going to be awesome without any hassles of travel — and you're not freaking about the costs," said Marty Nemko, a San Francisco-based career and personal coach. "A staycation will save you a fortune in travel costs."

Staycations allow for nearby activities and adventures that may otherwise get overlooked during your usual hustle and bustle. For example, this is what Nemko's weekend staycation would include:

  • Get a massage because he rarely does.
  • Spend a few hours handwriting letters to friends and family.
  • Instead of the typical 30-minute stroll with his dog, he'd go on a two-hour walk, stopping at cafes along the way.
  • Splurge $100 at a Japanese restaurant for a 19-course meal.

"Part of a staycation that makes them great is being slightly outrageous because then it feels special," said Nemko, who hosts the talk show Work With Marty Nemko on KALW-FM, a National Public Radio affiliate in San Francisco. "If you simply sleep late, read the newspaper, and watch your favorite show, it feels like a normal weekend."

Here are some tips for a successful staycation:

Pick your fun. Ryann Pitcavage, a life coach based in Boulder, Colo., suggests asking yourself these questions to help you decide how to spend your staycation time: What are the things you've always wanted to do but never have time for? What is something new that could be interesting? What do you routinely crave day-to-day that you're not getting?

Planning will help ensure that you don't revert to your normal routine. 

"Don't fall into the trap of doing all the things that 'have to' get done — chores, work, fixing up the house, etc. — that there is no time for fun, relaxation, or whatever you want," she said.

Be a tourist in your hometown. Approach where you live as you would a vacation destination. Research it by asking for recommendations and searching online for events and popular attractions. That could be a day at the spa, box seats at a baseball game, or opera tickets.

"You can do all of these things beyond the normal and still have the comfort of sleeping in your own bed," Nemko said.

Consider an overnight getaway. While some people prefer their own beds, booking a hotel or Airbnb could be just what's needed to mix things up without leaving town.

"This will shift your environment or at least shift something," Pitcavage said. "What differentiates a staycation from just being at home is that you don't just live your same day-to-day life. You go out and do something different."

Keep it simple. Sometimes people feel a staycation must compete with the hype of a destination vacation, but it can include things you just don't otherwise take time for. This could be an afternoon of playing a game with a softball league or a walking tour of your downtown.

"Maybe you want to go to Neiman Marcus and try on $1,000 dresses," Nemko said.

Don't overbook. Trying to fit in too much could backfire. "Build in some time for you to sleep in, have some R&R, and some buffer room so that you have a chance to spontaneously do other things," Pitcavage said.

A big draw of a staycation is not having to spend travel days during your weeklong getaway.

"If you're going away for a week, you're stressed to the max before you leave, then stressed to the max when you get back because work has piled up," Nemko said. "Three days of a staycation can get you seven days of rejuvenation."

Anslee Wolfe is a freelance writer based in Colorado Springs, Colo. To comment on this article or to suggest and idea for another article, contact Chris Baysden, Associate Director – Content Development, at Chris.Baysden@aicpa-cima.com.

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