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Taking a Staycation? A Few Tips for Making the Most of It

Couple relaxing at homeFinally, a week cleared off your work schedule and you are staying put. Now you can tackle all the weeds, catch up on your reading, take the dog to the vet, repair the fence, see a movie, buy that new appliance or laptop, organize your files, clean out your car, closet or basement, get to the dentist and go visit Mom or Dad.

Easy there, tiger!  Remember the “cation” part of this? Being productive is rewarding, but a week goes by fast and a staycation warrants some rest and relaxation. I know, I just took one and I learned from the last one, which ended on a frustrating note because I felt that I tried to do too much, with only bits of fun sandwiched between the errands and organizing.

So this time, I followed a few guidelines you may want to consider so that at the end of the week, you are feeling relaxed, satisfied and recharged rather than disappointed:

1)    Keep the to-do list short. It sounds really obvious, but I cannot stress this enough. I made an “A” list of four or five priority items; anything else was optional. Allow time for naps, binge watching of your favorite Netflix shows or just sitting on a bench reading a book. The goal here is to banish guilt – don’t you have enough of that already? Along with this, be realistic on any “honey-do” commitments you make (easier said than done, I’m sure).

2)    Splurge a bit. To stay within my budget, I am generally pretty frugal when ordering at a restaurant or buying groceries. But on staycation, if I want the more expensive entrée or better cut of meat at the store, it’s mine. You’re saving hundreds or thousands of dollars not flying to a tropical paradise, so this is the time for some guilt-free luxuries. Splurging on others is good too. Who knows? It may also help keep the honey-do list short. It’s worth a shot!  

3)    Step away from the computer. Yes, I know you have a ton of emails to catch up on and stuff to browse on Ebay. But is hunching over a computer for a few hours really the way you want to spend your time off?  I say “a few hours” because spending a little time online is like buying just a few things at Target – nearly impossible. So if you must get on there, schedule it an hour or so before a commitment elsewhere, ideally something fun like a spa appointment or a movie with the kids, so you can stick to your time limit more easily.

4)    Be a tourist in your own area. This is the week to hit some of those “I’ll do that when I have time” items. Need some ideas to get started? Here are a few:

  • Go to a local farmer's market and buy fresh food, then cook a new recipe that you don't normally have time to cook when you're working.
  • Check out the local ghost tour that you've heard about for years, but never quite found the time to take.
  • Read the local paper to find out what’s happening. How about a summer concert series, play or lecture.
  • Make reservations at that in-demand, trendy restaurant that’s impossible to get into on a weekend.
  • Go to museums that are only during open odd hours or require advance reservations

5)    Re-connect with People. The day-to-day bustle sometimes keeps us from making those thoughtful gestures that mean a lot to the people in our lives.

Consider making and delivering a meal for an elderly or sick friend who isn't able to cook. If you’re not a chef, just pick up their favorite take-out and hand deliver it. Or make a list of at least three people you haven’t talked to in six months and call them. If you’re not a phone talker, go the extra mile and send them a card instead of an e-mail. How often do we get mail like that? It can make a big difference in someone’s day.

I came home recently after a not-so-fun commute and got an unexpected bill and a rather large one at that. Urrgh…But the lovely thank-you note from my friend Sue for whom I did a favor truly made up for it and brightened my evening. Perhaps there are a few people you could thank?  (You can always apologize for the lateness of it, I suspect they will still be pleased.)

So, the bottom line is: have fun while you’re getting things done or just have fun! You earned it. 

Ann Marie Maloney, Communications Manager-Tax, American Institute of CPAs.

Couple relaxing at home courtesy of Shutterstock

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