Scarborough Bluffs, Toronto for a staycation

Winter staycation during the pandemic

I’m not going to lie, after eight months of stages of lockdown, I’m itching to travel. But with cases on the rise and we can’t travel unless it’s a necessity, it’s not going to happen. So, a staycation is one way to change your everyday routine. Can a staycation satisfy your need to get away? Maybe not as much as a destination trip would, but, depending on where you live, travel abroad may not happen for some time. The added bonus of a staycation is that it doesn’t have to cost any money and even if it’s only for one day, it can help your mental health during the second wave of the pandemic.

With some staycation tips, it can do the job in a pinch. While it might not seem like a vacation when you’re in your hometown; it’s easy to make it feel like you’re away. If you live in a smaller place, it’s more challenging, especially if you can run into anyone at any given moment, but it still may be manageable.

Some staycation tips

Treat it like a destination trip

Toronto Park for staycation
Park in Toronto

Let everyone know that you want to be left alone like you’re on a regular vacation. You don’t want to be called in for something at work if you’re currently working. Or to run errands that may pop up. The key is to pretend that you’re away. That includes packing. Part of the fun (or for some stress) of travel is deciding what to take with you. So do that! Try not to sneak into your closet to get something else. Even if your staycation includes just staying in and walking around where you live, dress up like you’re away. It makes a huge difference. Well, it does for me, and I assume I’m not alone in it.

Tour your hometown like you’re somewhere else. Again, this is dependent on how much is open, but if parks are open, restaurants, drive-in movies, you have some options! See whatever sites are available at the time you do it. Take lots of photos, dress like you’re away and try things you’ve never done before, or haven’t done in a long time. If you risk others seeing you and you don’t want to see anyone, do it during off-hours!

Don’t make it feel like home

I would usually recommend staying somewhere else other than your home, even if it’s for just one night. But those options aren’t available or very limited and can be costly right now. Also, as a germaphobe, it would be hard for me to trust some paces during the pandemic!

Instead, try rearranging your space so that it feels like you’re somewhere else. Who knows, you may end up liking what you’ve done and keep it for a while!

I am not a fan of making any food when I’m away because it feels too much like being home.

If you’re like me, order in food or if restaurants are open and you feel comfortable going, go to some. It helps make it feel like you’re away while supporting local businesses that have been struggling. 

If you don’t mind cooking while on vacation, then it’s even easier! You can plan and make your meals as you would when you’re away.

It may not feel like a getaway depending on how many limitations you have where you live. But, I think a little break if you need it can still give you a fun experience.

Make your staycation smoother by doing these things before you start

It’s easy to forget things when you’re getting ready to go on a trip. You don’t want to get caught forgetting something essential or scrambling at the last minute to get stuff done. There are a lot of things you can line up before you go to have a smoother staycation.

I will keep mentioning that it’s important to treat a staycation like a vacation so that it feels different than staying home.

I’ve put together my personal checklist. Some seem very basic like to check the weather before you pack (yes, even at home!). But when you’re getting ready, you’d be surprised at what might slip your mind.

Line these up for your destination before you start your staycation

Scarborough Bluffs, Toronto for a staycation
Scarborough Bluffs, Toronto, A free park and beach

Reservations. Book your spots for restaurants, major sites or tours because space is minimal and there are time restrictions. Most can only have fewer than ten people touring a site, and restaurants are extremely limited. 

Download necessary travel apps. You may need apps like maps, discounts and schedules when you get to your destination (translators for when you’re travelling again). No one wants to have to eat into data or get hit with huge roaming fees having to download things when you’re out that you could have done at home. Or try to do it while you can get somewhere that has free Wi-Fi.

Added tips for when and if you travel again that you don’t necessarily need to do at home

Let someone know what you’re doing. Tell someone at home where you’ll be and what valuables you’re taking with you (including photos and any information you have about them, like serial numbers). Make sure they also have your current contact information.

Car rental. If you’re renting a car when you reach your destination, make sure your driver’s license is valid. An International Driving Permit is required in some countries, so make sure you’re eligible to drive there before renting a car.

When you’re taking the train. Before you leave home, you will need to reserve trains in certain countries or get a rail pass. During busy season, it’s sometimes impossible to do it when you arrive.

Travelling short distances between countries. For short-distance flights, especially in Europe and parts of the Caribbean, you can book flights once you’re there. I’ve done it before. It’s almost as easy as hopping on a train or bus. But during peak season you want to get the best price and make sure you can get a set, so I suggest booking before you leave.

Double-check when your passport expires. Some countries may not allow you in if your passport expires within three months of your date of return home. Get it renewed before travelling if this is the case. The last thing you want to happen is to be denied entry into the country once you land. If you’re travelling with children or elderly parents, also check theirs.

Make sure you have and pack all the necessary documents. ID and documents needed differ from country to country. But, a passport, visas, medical information or inoculation, driver’s license, birth certificate and student or senior international ID cards for discounts, are some.

Contact your bank. Let them know where you’re going to ensure they don’t put a hold on your debit and/or credit cards because they think it’s suspicious activity.

Make copies of the important documents. If there is an emergency, or you lose them, don’t forget to make copies of the ones you’re taking with you.

Know what can go in your carry-on. Airline restrictions always change. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people scrambling to unload a too-heavy bag or throw away items that weren’t allowed, just to get on a plane.

Phone plan. If you’re travelling abroad, get a travel plan for international calling, texting or data, or to unlock your phone.

Take care of medical needs. If you have prescriptions or any health needs that might come up while you’re on vacation, take care of them before you leave. You don’t want to get stuck somewhere without enough medication or in need of medical assistance. Especially when it’s something that could have been looked after before you left. This doesn’t include medical emergencies.

Travel insurance, yes or no? If you have regular insurance, check if it covers travel for cancellations, illness or other things that might come up when you’re away. If it doesn’t, or you have no insurance, I am a firm believer in getting travel insurance. It is hard to get money back from them sometimes, but it is impossible to recoup money if you have none.


  1. Great tips. Summer was easy for me, but in winter I have to give more effort to feel like I am on vacation.

    1. Author

      Thanks so much for your comment! For me summer is easier too! Usually I want to hibernate in winter but this year I have made great efforts to do things outdoors that I normally wouldn’t. All the best for 2021!

  2. Great tips! I need a staycation right now! I’ve found watching documentaries on tropical islands and remote vacation spots to help “feel” like you’re away from home. There’s a great series on Netflix called Moving Art that’s very relaxing.

  3. It is needed for me anyway. It’s been trying times since work is limited as a chef and trying to learn a new trade to supplement is taking a lot. Anything free to help wellness is welcome!

  4. This wave it getting to me too. Our area went into the red zone starting this week

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