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Staycation in Recovery

Staycation in Recovery: Creating a Relaxing Retreat at Home

Reading Time: 4 Minutes

School’s out for summer, which means fun in the sun, BBQs, and vacations…but in this current economy, not everyone can afford to travel right now. If you are in recovery, either for a mental health disorder or a substance use disorder, the stress of planning a vacation may be more than you bargained for.  

Planning a vacation away takes time, effort, and money. However, you always have the option of a staycation, a way to unplug and have fun while being close to home. Staycations can save you money, time, and stress and allow you to still attend therapy sessions or aftercare recovery meetings, so you remain steadfast in your recovery.  

Staycations don’t necessarily mean you have to be couped up in your house, binge-watching Netflix; although that is a relaxing option… Instead, staycations entail weekend or week-long outings exploring the community and culture around your home. Research has found that spending time in a different area or trying new experiences, even within your own neighborhood, can increase happiness and well-being.

Be intentional about unplugging from obligations

If you work remotely or have a job requiring you to return emails and keep up with projects, you must be intentional and disciplined about putting your phone and computer down and not checking your email. This may mean leaving your work computer in the closet at home and turning off all notifications on your phone. The goal of your staycation is to relax, have fun, and recharge.  

Unplugging from obligations also means you don’t spend your staycation working on big chores or home projects such as organizing, deep cleaning, hanging shelves, or any other home maintenance projects that are on your list. Save these projects for another time; use your staycation to fully unwind and unplug from your daily routine and to-do list.  

Make a budget 

Just because you are not booking airline tickets, resorts or hotels does not mean you should still create and stick to a loose (or tight) budget, especially if you choose a staycation to save money. A staycation budget may include gas if you are going on a road trip, camping sites or hotels, a food budget, and an activity budget.  

Although this should be much cheaper than going on a vacation involving flights and hotels, it may require some creative budgeting and stick to your financial boundaries. If you are staying somewhere overnight, such as a hotel or a campground, buy groceries to save money on food, and do free activities, such as going to the beach or hiking.

Planning your staycation

A staycation may require some planning ahead, especially if you are booking a night or two away or plan on camping. If you are looking for campgrounds or day trips into the great outdoors, here are a few resources that can help you plan your trip: 

  1. Recreation.gov for National Forest and Federal Land reservations  
  2. Parks.ca.gov for California state park reservations  
  3. NPS.gov for National Park reservations  
  4. Campflare.com for notifications on sold-out campgrounds  
  5. Hipcamp.com for RV camping and “outside the box” camping spots 
  6. Tourism boards: Every town with a tourism industry has a tourism board dedicated to what is happening in the local community. They often have great information on what national parks are open, where to park an RV or camper, and how to spend time with loved ones. Hundreds of arts and cultural events are often going on.

Fun-filled staycation ideas that are good for your mental health

Go camping: Spending time outdoors under the stars is good for the mind, body, and soul, and even better if you don’t have cell service. You can choose to sleep in a tent or in an RV and spend time around the campfire, exploring hiking trails and lakes, reading a book in a hammock, or playing games with loved ones. The camp recipes are endless; you can enjoy BBQs and camping over an open fire.  

  1. Book a short-term rental: If you want to get out of your house but not travel too far, booking a short-term rental nearby can be a great way to get away and clear your mind. This can allow you to explore new neighborhoods and restaurants while having the comfort and pleasure of being in a home.
  2. Take a road trip: Maybe you don’t want to spend the night anyway but want to get out for the day; getting in the car and driving somewhere new is an adventure. Whether driving up the coast, to a National or State Park, or to a lake, driving can be good for the mind. You can even extend your road trip into an overnight stay. Who doesn’t love car snacks, good music or audiobooks, and a wide-open road?
  3. Be a tourist in your town: Often, we can spend years or even half our lives living in the same town but never doing any of the “fun touristy things” such as jumping on the town trolley or sightseeing bus, seeing a live show, taking a trip to the botanical gardens, the zoo, a museum, a local farmer’s market, or an amusement park. You can also go to a local fair or carnival, eat at new restaurants or take a local cooking class.
  4. Host your own film festival: Maybe you don’t feel like leaving your house and are craving a tv binge day. You can get creative and set up an outdoor projector in the backyard, make popcorn, order food from a few different takeout restaurants, and invite friends to watch a movie trilogy or a Netflix series.

    Be mindful to plan ahead and have your recovery support system available if underlying triggers arise anytime a trip or staycation is planned in unfamiliar surroundings. Don’t be taken by surprise while away on vacation.

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