Play Pretend: Memorial Day Weekend Staycation

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more. 

I once posted a guide to staycations less than a year ago and I find that post to be excruciatingly relevant as Memorial Day Weekend nears. I doubt many of us will be jet-setting across the globe with our families, but at the same time I would gander that many of us are tired of hunkering down at home. The trick to any staycation, of course, is to rid the self of routine. Anything that you would do on a normal weekend should be shoved under a rug, if only for the holiday weekend.

Now staycations don’t just marvelously appear out of thin air. The most successful ones require meticulous planning, should a simple chore meander its way to make a ruinous weekend. I like to plan a few activities throughout. Not so many that we can’t remain fluid, but enough to avoid the sinking feeling that all this is was a wasted holiday.

Everything you need to create a delicious weekend – as if you haven’t had enough practice this quarantine season – below.

A few tips, if I may.

  • Get dressed for the occasion. Even if it means you will be in your home all day long, I really do feel that getting dressed will make this time more special. Put on some earrings and shoes. Wear a nice dress if weather permits. Remember the days when you were a child playing dress-up? It’s the first step to playing pretend.
  • Start the day setting the tone at home. Draw back the curtains, fling open the windows, light a candle. Make the bed by straightening the sheets and fluffing the pillows. These are the first few things I do to make the home feel like someplace I want to be.
  • Plan time outdoors. I know this may seem a bit anti-staycation but in all honesty, cooping up all day isn’t the best thing for any of us these days. Even if it means stepping out on your tiny-home balcony in order to breathe fresh air and get some sunshine. I like to wear my bathing suit and lay out on fake grass. You may prefer to sit in a swing and drink white wine.
  • Set the table. Let’s face it. We are all probably eating at home. But instead of cooking up Top Ramen like we always do, why not spruce up the event? Perhaps a cheese board of your creation in the afternoon. A farmer’s market fruit bowl. Freshly baked scones for tea time. Support a local restaurant that you’ve been wanting to try for AGES. Order delivery and set the table. Pull out all the stops. Linens, your best china, and candlesticks. Set the mood for something more special than TV dinners.
  • Add a spa-like quality to rest. Some vacations are for adventure. Others are meant for reset. Since the former is inaccessible to many of us at the moment, I’d like to propose a relaxing staycation for all. Forget the flower petals on the bed. That will only result in more clean-up. Keep it simple. Put on silky pajamas, soak feet in herbal water, crank up the essential oil diffuser. Turn on slow jams and dim the lights.

For those wishing to spruce up the weekend with a bout of shopping, here are a few sales going on for which my readers can receive discounts.

Looking for new shoes? From now until the end of the month, readers get an additional 20% off all sale styles from Nisolo with the code MDWDEBTIST . For those looking forward to decluttering rather than shop, send your unwanted but still usable shoes to Nisolo and save $40 credit for a later date. 

Preparing to lounge in your underwear all Memorial Weekend long? TheDebtist readers get 15% from Organic Basics using the code DEBTISTOBC. This weekend only, get free international shipping using code GLOBAL. Check out my reviews of other sources for Intimates in this post

Planning to spend the weekend outdoors? Right now, Prana has 25-30% off select styles until the 25th of May. If you’d preferOutdoor Voices, here is a code that gives $20 to you, $20 to me. 

A Guide to Staycations

For two and a half years since we’ve said the words “I do”, we’ve spent every holiday getting away to see the world. This Labor Day, we’ve decided to slow it down from the traveling and relish in the beauty of our home. We had just returned from three back-to-back travel destinations (Seattle, Juneau, and Santa Rosa) and I was feeling a bit like I was missing out on the joys of being home. Perhaps that’s a sign of aging? We thought it’d be great to try and re-create vacation vibes in our own city… and our own living room. While everyone is fighting for limited space on highways tonight, higher hotel and flight prices over the weekend, and surely every last little bit of summer sun, maybe you could turn your home into a vacay oasis too, without opening your wallets or car doors (too often).

We always took off whenever we had a bit of freedom from work, which was in essence every holiday that has ever been granted, because we felt that time was precious and tough to come by. So when it finally did, we seized the opportunity. But that’s exactly it! Time IS tough to come by, even in the comforts of our own home. Actually, ESPECIALLY in the comforts of my own home, where I do multiple jobs as a home baker and home writer after long shifts at the dental office. And now that we are homeowners, I have finally come to feel that there can be more time spent valuing this sanctuary, in a city that we so love.

Yet staycations are a tricky thing. The trick lies in re-creating the feeling that you are actually on vacation. There are a few things we feel when we are away – relaxed as we are freed from our daily responsibilities, excited as we explore to see something new, and warm as we connect with others whether that be friends and family that we are traveling with, newly met locals, or fellow wanderers. Sometimes, traveling is a way for us to simply escape from our norm. Whatever it is that you seek when you travel, you must also seek in a staycation. Your mind must be in its own wonderland and you must be focused on establishing that feeling of “elsewhere”, lest you return to work after the long weekend feeling like you’ve wasted your staycation cleaning up around the house.

To focus on creating a REAL staycation, you have to clearly know in your mind what you want to achieve. What is this staycation meant to be?

This is for all those times you had to spend balancing work and life, getting home after a long day only to complete a list full of chores. This is for the days you wished you could wake up late, and lounge in bed all morning long like a teenager on a Saturday, contemplating which would draw you out of bed first – the beating rays from a high sun or the smell of bacon and eggs. This is a time for sitting down and reading an entire book from beginning to end, undisturbed. This is for staring out of a window instead of at a screen, for playing with your cat and not giving up when he wins. This is for having breakfast in bed, and possibly never leaving the bed at all.

Here, a few guidelines for creating the perfect staycation.

Break Routine

The secret to feeling like you’re on vacation when you’re actually where you were yesterday is to distance yourself from as many daily occurrences as possible. Avoid doing the laundry, sweeping the floors, organizing your shelves, if only for one weekend. If anyone could understand how hard this first step is, it would be me. But it is essential to creating success. A way in which we’ve prepped for this at Casa Debtist is by doing all the laundry on the weekdays prior. Now we have a full closet, freshly steamed. We’ve cleaned our home as well, so our floors are looking polished, our bathroom sparkling. The sheets are newly washed, without any cat hair (for now) and the bed will be made when our staycation starts. I’ve finished my organizing in the kitchen, a project that I was hoping to tackle for some time, and the counters are finally bare, the appliances wiped down, and the dishware beautifully displayed behind closed cabinet doors, just the way I like them. Last week, we purchased enough groceries to last us through the holiday weekend, plus a bottle of wine, our attempt at feigning luxury for under $10. Usually, the cat wakes us up at 6am on the dot every morning and we get up and go about our day, but perhaps we’ll crawl back into bed and banish the sun for a few more hours. If you typically prefer showers, maybe soak in a bath with a bath bomb? Color the tub pink! I don’t normally have scented things around the house, but for this weekend I’ve situated PF candles of in each room, for lighting during the most mundane tasks of showering, lying in bed, and reading a book. In essence, we are trying to act as if we are waking up to a buffet breakfast on the resort of an island or awaiting a foot massage at a spa. In fact, I would be first to admit that part of the allure of travel time is the beautiful AirBNB homes that we get to live in, which goes hand-in-hand with the façade that we were living some other life. So I guess staycationing requires also that nostalgic façade, but in the comforts of our own home.

Avoid Screens

This is a rule that was important to establish in our home. Mike is a frequent Redditor and avid gamer (especially after the release of World of Warcraft this past Monday) and I am a workaholic who types words onto a digital page all day long. But when we travel, we don’t have access to computers. My minimalist self abhors at the idea of lugging around a heavy laptop, so I never do. Which means, more times off screens and looking at each other in the eye. This weekend, we’ve decided on a zero-computer policy. I’ve got a few blog posts with publish dates on queue, and the rest can wait. Which gets doing other things, or better yet, nothing at all.

Connect with People

Traveling has always been about connecting with people. At first, we were trying to connect with locals and other expats, probing their minds for other world views. Lately though, we’ve been traveling with friends and family, and relishing in the moments that can steal from the everyday, moments that we once shared more frequently when we were young. This weekend, we wanted to re-create the Santa Rosa trip we had only two weeks ago. On Saturday, our friends are invited to our abode for a gathering of sorts. We plan to go out to dinner as a group, then come home and drink leisurely with a game of beer pong as a few Switches are streaming multi-player games on our projector screen. In essence, re-creating our college days when none of us had jobs, we were all poor still figuring things out, and life was at its prime. On Sunday, we have a gathering at an Aunt’s beach house with Mike’s whole side of the family. Lounging on their patios overlooking the ocean, eating veggies and dip and having dinner outdoors under twinkling lights as the sun sets over glasses of wine.  Lastly, Monday is dedicated to Mike and I, discovering new coffee shops and restaurants, lounging in bed and in the sand, and watching movies in the theatres regardless of whether there’s a movie worth spending our free movie tickets on.

Act Like A Tourist In Your Own City

Aside from getting away from the daily grind and connecting with people, the final perk of traveling is having excitement in discovering something new. Mike and I live in a city but due to our frugality and my love for cooking meals, we recommend the same three restaurants when friends come over to eat. This weekend, we’ve decided to get to know our neighborhood more. We wish to try a new coffee shop, dine at a new restaurant (with friends), and act like a tourist in our own town. There are so many spaces to discover yet and we want to learn everything we can about our surrounding area. Plus, part of our plan to avoid daily habits is to cook as minimally as possible, for less clean up! So, making the city our symbolic kitchen and living room will help with that.

If you’ve actually read through this whole post, I’d wager that you haven’t made plans for the holiday yet. Or perhaps you’re considering bailing on those plans. If so, I hope this helps with creating an alternative to travel. And if you ARE getting away, maybe this will inspire you to stay next time. Maybe your home (and your wallet) will thank you for it. Either way, we wish you a happy holiday.