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9 Reasons a Staycation Just Might Be the New Vacation

Updated: March 22, 2024

Written by

AAA Travel Editor, Katie Broome

We’re all in need of a collective vacation and some serious self-care. Between work stress, family stress and health stress, taking a multi-week vacation to a far-flung destination may not be in the cards anytime soon. Many travelers are now turning to “staycations,” or vacations where you stay at home or nearby, to rest and recharge. A shorter trip closer to home — or even a staycation in your own backyard — offers many of the same mental and physical benefits as a traditional vacation, but with less stress and a lower price tag.

So is a staycation the new vacation? Perhaps! Here are a few benefits of staycations over vacations.

Avoid Potential Travel Headaches

Staycations generally don’t require early morning flights, long travel days, lost luggage or complicated trip logistics. With a staycation, the only thing standing between you and #staycationmode is an out-of-office reply (or perhaps just a short drive). In contrast, vacations often have a lot of hoops to get through before you can actually kick back and relax. And who wants to spend their precious vacation time jumping through hoops? According to the U.S. Travel Association, the average American worker earned 23.9 days of paid time off in 2018 but used just 17.4 days. Planning a staycation may help you make the most of the paid time off you do earn.

Minimize Contact Points

We live in an era with sustainable travel and COVID-19 procedures like contact tracing and social distancing, so it helps to minimize the number of places we visit on a single trip. Vacation itineraries are often jam-packed with dozens of things to do and places to go, but a staycation itinerary can be blissfully simple. If you’ve ever needed a reason to sit by the pool all day or relax in a comfy hotel bed with no other plans, a staycation may be just the ticket.

Stretch Your Travel Budget

Think about your average vacation budget and how much you spend on flights and baggage fees. With a staycation, you skip most of the transportation costs, which allows you to stretch your travel budget even further. Put that extra money toward an upgraded hotel room, a nice spa treatment or possibly an additional getaway later in the year. If weather isn’t an issue, plan your staycation during shoulder season when hotel rates are lower.

Turn the Focus on You

The beauty of a staycation is that you can tailor its purpose to your needs. Have you been spending too much time on the computer and your smartphone? Make the theme of your staycation a digital detox, with plenty of soul-nourishing activities and time spent outdoors. Is there a hobby you’ve been wanting to try? Bring supplies and use the change of scenery as inspiration to really dig in. That's especially beneficial if you're an introvert or prefer traveling alone. Just remember: Laundry and other chores can wait until after your staycation ends.

Stay Outside Your Comfort Zone

Hotels are typically just a means to an end on a busy vacation, but on staycations, you can put more importance on the place you stay. Whether your accommodations are a local resort with an amazing pool or a tent in your own backyard, consider a stay somewhere outside the norm. To take your staycation to another level, consider booking a secluded cabin at a luxury resort like the FivePine Lodge & Spa in Oregon or the Vista Verde Guest Ranch in Colorado.

Tip: Check the AAA Diamond designation to find the right hotel for your expectations and budget.

Get Room Service—Without the Guilt

Treat yourself to a nice meal and avoid the additional social contact by ordering room service instead of dining out. Many hotels have been revamping their in-room dining menus or extending room service hours, so the experience may be different than you’re used to. If you’re staycationing at home, splurge on a fancy takeout meal from a local restaurant. To-go menus may look different now, too. D.C. diners who ordered paella from Jaleo by José Andrés, for example, have gotten to keep the enameled pan it came in.

Escape to Your Own Backyard

Consider starting a new family tradition by hosting a backyard staycation. Invest in some camping gear, a fire pit and s’mores supplies, then pitch your tent out back and learn about different types of camping. It’s a good way to practice setting up your equipment without the pressure of being far from home and forgetting something crucial. Plus, you’ll have all your creature comforts nearby.

If you haven’t camped before but want to get started, check out Planning Your First Family Camping Trip.

Bring Your Pets Along

If saying the word “vacation” in your household is associated with a trip to the dog kennel, your four-legged family member will definitely appreciate a staycation where they can come along. Find pet-friendly restaurants, hotels or campgrounds near you with AAA Trip Canvas. Many nice resorts have pet-friendly rooms, so you can relax at the pool and know that your pet is safe and sound nearby.

Play Tourist in Your Own City

Busy schedules and daily routines don’t leave much time for exploring new places or businesses around our own hometowns. A staycation is as good an excuse as any to finally check things off your tourist to-do list. Wander a nearby historic district, visit local parks, ride your bike somewhere you’ve never been before, visit a U-Pick farm or try out a new yoga studio. Or simply make a nearby destination feel like your hometown. Brainstorming staycation ideas can be as simple as opening a map and seeing what’s within driving distance.

Written by

AAA Travel Editor, Katie Broome

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