7 ways to...enjoy a holiday in your own home
This month, it's all about how to have the best staycation possible
With the Coronavirus still affecting foreign travel, it's pretty tricky to plan a holiday abroad or even elsewhere in your own country right now. But does that mean that you shouldn't take a break from work or your usual routine? No!
It's so important to take a rest from reality and indulge in things that will improve your own mental health and well-being. And you can do this with your very own home as your base, and by simply exploring your local area.
Remember to block out a specific week in your calendar; use your annual leave and book time off work, just as you would for any other vacation.
However, if you can't take time off from your job, it is easy to organise a stay cation for over the weekend or on your days off.
There's no travel and no time spent organising transport plans or checking in. Here are seven ideas to help you to have the best experience possible.
1. Decorate your home to encapsulate your holiday
One of the main draws of being away on holiday, is being surrounded by new, exotic or luxurious surroundings, so why not temporarily transform your home into the destination of your dreams?
Pick a country, then decide on what type of accommodation you would want to stay in - a vegan yoga retreat, a rustic and cosy barn, a fancy hotel in a high-end resort, or a tent in the wilderness?
Adorn your home and garden or balcony with flags, pictures and items that conjure up your chosen destination. For example, if you have picked Japan, pin Japanese flags around your living space.
Hide your knives and forks in place of chopsticks; print off photographs of cherry blossoms, Mount Fuji, the cities of Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, and ornate temples; and make your own lanterns and hang them around the house and outdoors.
Get creative! If you're going for cosy and rustic vibes, get some soya wax candles, soft wool-free rugs and lots of fluffy cushions - turn your living room into your own private cottage.
For fancy hotel feels, dig out your best bedding; place some decadent vegan truffles on the pillows, and hang your fluffiest robe in the bathroom, next to a basket of luxurious cruelty-free pampering products.
If your ideal vacation is somewhere where nature is in full force, put up a tent in your garden or living room. Place potted plants and bright flowers on every available surface, and pin pictures of Mother Earth to your walls.
Set up a BBQ, camp stove or fire pit in your garden for outdoor cooking and toasting vegan marshmallows when the sun goes down. Your staycation really is what you make it.
Once you have chosen the type of holiday you want and 'where' you would like it to be, plan a list of meals for each day based around the cuisine or meal type that you would typically enjoy on a vacation like that.
Be adventurous - cooking a new cuisine is lots of fun. After you've written out your menu, write down the ingredients you'll need and head to your nearest greengrocers or supermarket.
If you'd like laid-back bed and breakfast vibes or simply a few nights off cooking, feel free to plan in meals out or takeaways! Make sure to only buy what you will actually eat to limit food waste.
3. See your hometown through foreign eyes
It's easy to take your local area for granted when you are there all the time, but think about what might excite a visiting tourist. Perhaps when you were younger, your parents used to take you to your local beach every weekend - head there for an afternoon.
Maybe your village has incredibly vibrant markets - go and see what they are all about. Look up your own town on Trip Advisor (tripadvisor.co.uk) and see what is recommended - work your way through the suggested list as if you are visiting it for the first time. If there really isn't much to do where you live, take a trip to the town closest to you that has more activities and tourist draws.
4. Do or learn something new
When we are away somewhere new, we are likely to be exposed to things we have not seen or done before, and in the spirit of vacation, we tend to be more open to trying these new things.
So, to emulate this at home, attempt a new activity or learn a skill -this could be anything, from taking a wake boarding lesson to learning to boulder, or from studying a foreign language to teaching yourself to crochet!
You could even try to match your new activity or skill to a particular country you want to pretend you are visiting - if you are 'vacationing' in Spain, take an online Spanish dance class, or if you are 'visiting' Thailand, take part in a virtual vegan Thai cooking class. It might take some planning, but the pay-off will be excellent.
5. Experience arts and culture
Just like food encapsulates a place, so too does the art, music, theatre and history of a city or country. So, get discovering! There are virtual tours with street views from all across the globe, and you can visit museums, art galleries and cultural hubs - all online.
Fancy taking a dive under the Great Barrier Reef? Or maybe you want to explore the Imperial City Hue of Vietnam? All this is possible on Google Arts and Culture (artsandculture.google.com) - visit the website to see where it can take you.
Likewise, if you would love to watch a West End or Broadway show from the comfort of your sofa, you can also view these on the internet.
Broadway HD (broadwayhd.com) is currently offering seven-day free trials to hundreds of shows, including Les Misérables and Wicked. Similarly, National Theatre At Home has a brilliant subscription service where you can watch tonnes of exciting performances (ntathome.com).
And if you have NETFLIX, take a look and see what shows they have to offer! (netflix.com) If you don't want to spend your holiday online, get creative in real life. Unleash the artist within and get stuck in to your own arts and crafts project.
Set to work on some vegan awareness paintings, make soya wax candles, crochet hanging planters, make mosaics from old bottle caps or weave a basket from foraged twigs! The possibilities are endless.
6. Get active
When you're away, there are often sports and activities at your disposal, whether at your hotel, on the beach or water, at your campsite or in the mountains, so get active at home. Join an online dance or yoga class or buy a DVD; play an outdoor sport with your family, or host your own festival, dance or paddling pool party.
7. Make an itinerary
When we travel, we will often follow a schedule of activities to make sure that we fit everything in. So, why not make an itinerary for your home holiday? Plan a list of activities to do at particular times throughout each day, and follow it as if you are really away on a trip. This will help you to stop you from slipping back into 'real life' mode. These can be made up of any of the above ideas. Try or tweak this suggested schedule:
• 8am: Do an online yoga class
• 9am: Enjoy a homemade continental breakfast
• 10:30am: Walk a route you have never taken before around your local area
• 1pm: Take an online cooking class
• 2:30pm: Visit a museum - the nearest to your town or virtually
• 5pm: Get yourself dressed up for dinner
• 6pm: Order or cook a delicious vegan meal of your chosen cuisine
• 7:30pm: Have a karaoke party in your living room Your itinerary doesn't need to be complicated, strict or packed with expensive-to-do activities, it can be as simple as you like. And if you would rather 'wing it', then by all means, do whatever you feel in the moment. The main thing? Enjoy yourself and take a well-earned break from 'normal' life.