Staycations have risen in popularity over the years. However, while they are the perfect option for anyone wanting to pinch their pennies, their attraction stretches far beyond the money that can be saved. Staycations serve as the ideal opportunity to get to know your own country and to investigate hidden treasures in your own back garden. Adventuring overseas may be an amazing opportunity, but there is nowhere quite like home.
If you have opted for a staycation this year, there are plenty of ways to have a memorable and exciting time without breaking the bank. It doesn’t matter where you go; there is fun to be had for free.
Pay a trip to your local park
No matter your location, there is likely to be a beautiful local park within walking or driving distance. Take the time to venture outdoors and reconnect with nature. If you are with your children, there is likely to be a climbing frame or a swing set to distract them while you relax and enjoy the peace and quiet. If not, you can have a family game of catch, football, or Frisbee. Playing together will get the endorphins racing and strengthen what is known as the ‘crescive bond’– the bond created between people through shared experiences.
Visit local museums
A lot of museums are completely free, although a small donation is always welcome to keep them up and running. They provide amazing opportunities to broaden our horizons, with an incredible variety of museums available. These range from art galleries and history museums, to science institutions and museums of nature. Science museums tend to be a particular favourite amongst children, as they usually provide fun, interactive activities to stimulate young minds. Visiting places like this are not only great for day trips however, they can also provide an opportunity to develop a new hobby or interest — something that could last a lifetime.
Take a trip to the beach
If you are staycationing near the beach (and you are lucky enough to be experiencing warm weather!), a day by the sea is a fantastic, free way to relax and unwind while getting some gentle exercise. It is the ultimate romantic escape for couples and a thrilling day out for children. Swimming in the sea also offers a whole host of health benefits. Saltwater is known to have healing and exfoliating properties and can also remove toxins from your skin while replenishing the minerals, leaving you with a healthy, happy glow.
Reading is the ultimate free activity. If you have an e-reader, then the majority of the classics are free to download and enjoy. Settling down with a good book does more than just provide short-term entertainment. Reading has been shown to improve focus and concentration long-term, as well as improving critical and analytical skills, improving memory and increasing focus and concentration. Reading can also drastically lower stress levels, and open our minds to alternate ways of thinking.
Camping can be done anywhere, even in the safety of your own backyard. It is an old family staple, and for good reason. It serves to bring us back to nature, and the lack of distraction in the form of electronics or technology means that we are forced to properly interact. While camping, you can tell stories, play games and get to know one another again. This stimulates a sense of bonding and helps to form memories that will last a lifetime.
We shouldn’t discount the importance of these memories. Ron Bracey, a clinical psychologist, has stated that reflecting on holiday memories can almost be used as a ‘rescue remedy’, as fond reminiscing causes our brains to release feel-good hormones. In fact, evoking happy memories can even produce ‘alpha waves’ from our brains, causing a huge sensation of relaxation similar to that we feel just before we fall asleep.
Geocaching is an activity that has seen a massive surge in popularity and is something definitely worth working into your staycation. It is basically a modern-day treasure hunt, where you use GPS coordinates to track down ‘geocaches’. They often come in the form of small boxes or tins, and inside the container is a piece of paper you can sign to confirm that you are one of the ambitious few who have come across it. On occasion, there will even be a small treasure in the form of a toy; always remember to replace it with a treasure of your own for the next geocacher!
Find a new hobby
Holidays mean time off, and time off means that you finally have some freedom to explore all that life has to offer. As there may well be a hundred bullet points on your bucket list, it won’t do to keep putting things off. If you’ve always wanted to learn how to paint, or knit, or learn a different language, now is the time to get started. If this new hobby is highly creative, all the better. It’ll de-stress you, and potentially even boost your performance when you get back to work!
Google began a 20% rule, insisting that employees spend a fifth of their time exploring fun, interesting side projects. Google found that this resulted in a more productive, inspired staff who made the most of the remaining four-fifths of their work time; work performance was substantially improved. Psychology professor Dr Kevin Eschleman also suggested that employees with a creative hobby are more likely to be helpful and collaborative in their job performance
Get to know your neighbours
No matter where you decide to go on your staycation getaway, you are likely to have a neighbour or two. The ultimate free, frugal and satisfying activity is simply getting to know other people. We tend to get carried away with our lives, running the risk of getting into a rut. A nine-to-five might be restricting your social life slightly, but when you have nothing on the agenda except for your own entertainment, you have all the freedom in the world. Humans are sociable creatures, and we need to bond with, and connect to, other human beings.
There is more to be gained than simply a few laughs and a good afternoon or two. Meeting new people can open us up to new experiences, cultures and ways of thinking. It might just change you for the better.
Get your fill of sleep
This might not sound like the most exciting holiday activity, but it’s one of the most important. If you don’t regularly get your recommended eight to ten hours a night, a holiday gives your body the chance to find its natural rhythms. Not only will you be more refreshed, allowing you to better enjoy the activities above, but evidence has shown that sleep has a multitude of virtues. It can improve your memory, lengthen your attention span, lower your stress levels, and even help you maintain a healthy weight. All this with no cost to you.
Diane Pearce is an entrepreneur who has been buying and letting holiday cottages for 15 years. She is passionate about providing last-minute getaways to those seeking a retreat. She now owns BimbleBox, a popular holiday cottage rental website that exists to provide beautiful and affordable escapes to remember.
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