An unplanned staycation is a recipe for wasted time and missed potential.
If you’re a parent of small children, a spouse, a busy entrepreneur and a leader in a large company, it probably sounds like heaven to have your spouse say to you “Babe, I think you should take a staycation. Stay at a hotel in the city for a couple of nights and just relax. I got your back.”
That’s literally what my husband said. Heaven!
Recognizing my uncanny ability to schedule supposedly unscheduled time just past the point of being fun, I specifically set out to think nothing about what to do, when to do, etc. I booked my hotel for a few weeks out and packed my bag the night before – so proud of myself for maintaining a schedule-free staycation, except for a low-key dinner party at some friends’ home midway through the weekend.
The morning of, I realized something – I didn’t feel a burning need to “get away”, to run from the Stewie-like (Family Guy) sounds of my 10 month old saying “mom. mama. mom. mommy. mom.” Nor from the seemingly endless “when are we gonna…” questions from my 5 year old. That felt like success already – I was actually pretty damn calm and happy in my home life. #StartupParenthood
But maybe if I had felt the need to get away, I would have done some of the things to prepare for my staycation that I am now sharing with you in the form of these 5 tips.
1 – For a few weeks beforehand, keep a list of the restaurants, cafes, desserts, etc. you like.
Even if you go to these places often, nothing is worse than finding yourself with time and opportunity to go wherever you want, or Caviar from wherever you want, and your mind goes blank…repeatedly. Thank goodness I finally remembered my husband introduced me to brunch at Village Whiskey. Chicken & Waffles – yes! Even better, starting out with this beautiful Brown Derby.
2 – Bring a bag of toys.
You have to play. Playtime for adults is important. I happened to have a board meeting for the Please Touch Museum a couple of days before my staycation and was gifted with a bag of actual toys to play with. Did I play with all of them? No, but when I did, I felt truly joyous. Also, “toy” is up for interpretation. I also brought along my unopened automatic foot file thinking I’d finally broach the world where I’m not so dependent upon not-regular-enough pedicure appointments. That didn’t work out so well though – forgot scissors to actually open the package.
3 – Book a relaxing-to-you appointment. Beforehand.
While the point is to be unscheduled and give the grind a break, the rest of the world isn’t going to make way for your spontaneity all of the time. I found myself assuming the hotel would allow early check-in (nope!) and having nothing to do for a few hours. When I realized I had a litany of personal care services I wanted to procure, everybody was pretty booked up. I was able to squeeze in a wonderful facial at Richel d’Ambra Salon at the beautiful Ritz-Carlton Philadelphia. By 3 pm on the first day, I felt accomplished. (I also realized that the universe’s birthday gift to me was the need for a skincare regimen.)
4 – Do not overburden your mind with images of what the staycation should be.
Even with my un-planning mindset, I had actually created a vision of what it should be. No appointments! No obligations! No expectations! Once I was in the middle of the weekend, I had visions that I should “get the most out of” every minute, constantly evaluating whether watching another guilty episode of Madam Secretary or The Blacklist was what I wanted to say I had done with my time. It’s like I had to keep throwing away the magazine shoot of an ideal staycation from my mind.
Rather, “just” let in the moments as they come. When I did that, this happened at 2 pm in the afternoon after a hard workout.
5 – Commit to some rules or habits you’re going to put aside.
Speaking of hard workouts, I definitely wish I had planned more thoughtfully about which rules I was going to stick to and which ones I was going to put aside for a few days. Case in point: will I make it to yoga? Exactly how many cardio workouts am I going to commit to…really? And can I just forget about calorie tracking for ~48 hours? Having thought about this beforehand would have made the decision to get the larger Ben & Jerry’s Tonight Dough a lot less hard, or to eat cold Pizzeria Vetri Pepperoni pizza in bed a lot easier.
And finally, book a nice hotel. I chose the Westin Philadelphia and the bed was Heavenly. Nothing like blackout shades that really work, a soft (for real) bathrobe, a large TV with a decent channel selection, and a lobby you take pleasure in walking through. Even if you use points, like I did (at the – gasp! – awful rate of .07 per point), it’s worth it to be comfortable.