For those of us with wanderlust as part of our DNA, travel is the only thing that seems to satisfy it. However, the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic has derailed travel plans for most of us and we have had to find alternatives to what travel may be for the foreseeable future – explore locally!
On top of the quarantine that started in March, those of us who are parents were also forced into the world of homeschooling. Masks and social distancing have become the new norm. Working at home and Zoom calls have also become part of pandemic life. It’s amazing how much life has changed in such a short period of time. Even going to the grocery store has become a hassle, or even a well-received retreat from being at home. However you want to look at it!
Since most of us are at home now, working or not, homeschooling or not, the itch to travel is still there. I am no different. My husband, kids, and I have had to get creative about how to turn lockdown into more of a forced staycation. Especially on weekends when my oldest had no schoolwork to do.
So, what have we done on our extended staycation? Here are a few things that made this time fun:
1. Learn a new skill
What I did: Video editing is something that has intimidated me quite a bit before this time. I work in the entertainment industry and know editors with EMMY Awards sitting on their bookshelves at home. Not only did that intimidate me, but the programs did as well. But, during this pandemic, I decided to get over myself and LEARN, teaching myself two different editing programs. I have now been able to throw together some cute, fun travel videos and have felt so much pride and accomplishment in the process!
What you can do: Is there something you’ve been wanting to learn for years? Do you want to learn a new language or skill? A staycation is a great time to put aside your fears and develop a new skill. Even if you start out with small, baby steps. Progress is progress! Figure out what you want to learn first and go from there.
2. Travel through food and work on cooking and baking skills in the process
What I did: I started developing recipes and cooking and baking things I never had before. It became a fun-filled adventure in the kitchen as I experimented and researched recipes from around the globe. Paired with my newly-minted video editing skills, I started recording and posting cooking tutorials. I called them “Travel Through Food” and take viewers to another place with a recipe. This was a project I actually started with my son who was sharing facts about a country if we were making an international dish. He has since opted out of being filmed, but his little sister sometimes makes an appearance. Researching and developing recipes based on international dishes has satisfied a small part of my wanderlust, because food is both cultural and transformative.
What you can do: Pick a different country each week, research it’s food culture and find some recipes you can make at home. Learn a new cooking or baking technique. Host a party with the people you live with or invite friends and family over to try the dishes you made. Teach them about the country from where the recipes originated. It will surely be a different way to explore locally. If cooking isn’t your thing, go to or order takeout from a local restaurant you’ve been meaning to try. Not only will you be supporting a local business, but it will feel like you’re on a proper vacation, not on a staycation.
3. Explore local hiking trails
What I did: Currently living in Arizona, there are more hiking trails than a person could ever hike in their lifetime. There’s no end and no limit to explore locally. I had barely hiked any of them. Since area gyms had been shut down, the great outdoors became my new health and fitness playground. My husband and I would take turns leaving the house (and our parenting duties) behind to get some fresh air and a heart-pounding, cardio workout on a rugged mountain trail. On top of that, I felt like a kid again as I explored and had my own little adventure not too far away from home!
What you can do: When you explore local, but you don’t know of any hiking trails in your area, download an app that will show you ones in your area. If you live in a city with no access to hiking, try finding a park you have never been to and go for a long walk. If you already walk in your city, map out a new route and maybe you will discover something new! A staycation can be a chance to discover something new about the place you live at. You can also drive an hour or more away to find some hiking trails or parks, too.
4. Go to the movies…at home!
What my family did: We would have a staycation movie afternoon every Sunday. Choosing an adventure-themed flick the kids had never seen before, we bonded as a family over popcorn and candy while we watched. We even closed the blinds and turned off lights to transform our living room into a movie theater.
What you can do: Create your own movie theater at home. You can even rearrange the furniture to give it more of a movie theater feel. Buy boxed candy like you would have at the movies. You can find them at the local grocery store, sometimes for only $1. Buy movie theater-style popcorn or make your own. Stream a movie or download a newer release on a streaming app. It will also be a bit of a money-saver watching a flick at home! Another option is the drive-in. Drive-in movie theaters have become increasingly popular during the pandemic. Some businesses have even started pop-up drive-ins, usually in a large parking lot outside a shopping complex or hotel. Check your local area to see if one has popped up in your neighborhood!
Allow Yourself a Break, too
Although there is plenty to do on a when you explore locally, there is no shame in doing nothing! Sometimes our lives are so busy that we forget to slow down and breathe for a while. If nothing is what you want to do, then do it, guilt-free! Sit on your couch, binge-watch a show, drink some wine, eat takeout from your favorite restaurant. A when you explore local and have a staycation, you should still be enjoying yourself, no matter what you do or don’t do.
IRL, Melissa works as a travel writer and tv/film accountant and is a mom to two little travelers. She loves to do a combination of budget and luxury travel! Other interests include photography, travel writing, working out, and spending as much time as possible at the beach (despite now living in the desert). She is known as @worldlyroamer on social media.