The weather is getting warmer, kids are gearing up for summer and you were excited to bid your workplace adieu for a week or two. Now, you may be left with extra paid time off and no Caribbean beach to spend it on.
Whether you’re being forced to use your vacation days now to care for children who are suddenly home full time or have to re-route your Thailand trip, the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t have to completely rob you of a vacation. World travelers Jessica Nabongo, who has been to every country in the world, and Cedric Wood have offered up some creative ways you can spend your PTO.
“You don’t really have to travel all the time,” Wood said.
We know it’s no Bali, but hear us out: When was the last time you took a walk around your hometown?
Wood suggests taking a day trip, whether it’s an hour away to a town you’ve never visited for a scenic drive (if that’s feasible with your state’s regulations) or just stepping outside your front door.
“You can tour that city and it can get you out of the house … or you can play tourist in your own city,” Wood said. “I know the museums are closed in the major cities and a lot of local attractions are shut down, but you can still walk around and learn something about the history of your city.”
“Even if you’re driving 100 miles away and doing a full long day trip, it could be a great opportunity to explore … and do hikes and things like that,” Nabongo said.
Staycation: Indoor edition
If it’s difficult to get outside, there are plenty of ways you can enjoy your staycation inside.
“You can bring the spa to you,” Wood said, suggesting folks try an at-home face-mask or manicure and pedicure. “If you live with people, cool, then they could all participate.”
You can also turn your home into a movie theater, Wood suggests. You can take a whole day off and just re-watch your favorite movies or see some new ones, either through Netflix Party or with the people already in your home.
“After the movie, you can open it up for questions or reviews, and you can just talk about it,” Wood said.
He also suggests hosting a game night with your housemates and making up games.
Nabongo added if people are quarantined with family, you can have a no-screen day.
“Especially for kids, I know parents are going insane right now,” Nabongo said. “Before you do it, allow everyone in the family to come up with ideas of exactly what they want to do and plan a part of the day.”
Baecation: Quarantine edition
You may have had to cancel that romantic couple’s getaway in Santorini, Greece, but that doesn’t mean your living room can’t be just as intimate.
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“You can plan a special day where you watch your favorite movie and take time to support a local restaurant,” Nabongo said, if your local restaurants are doing takeout. “Maybe you order something high end when you usually wouldn’t. It’s a great opportunity to have a romantic dinner at home while also supporting local businesses that are struggling right now.”
A lot of times people equate vacation to going on a trip somewhere or doing something, but how about just taking a day to do absolutely nothing?
While it’s always important to take some time to yourself, Nabongo said given the current climate, it’s even more necessary to give your mind a break.
“If you have a glass of wine at 10 a.m., that is A-OK, if you lay in bed until 3 p.m., that is A-OK,” Nabongo said. “I think because the stress level is so high and balancing the stress of what’s going on with also still working, I think that’s a good opportunity to let your mind be at ease.”
When taking your self-care day, Nabongo said it’s imperative that you unplug from social media and really just indulge in being by yourself.
“It’s really giving yourself permission to have an absolutely ridiculous day of nothingness,” Nabongo said.
Take a trip down memory lane
For those whose passion in life it is to travel, travel and then travel some more, canceling your trip to Kenya may have you feeling lost, confused and just all around sad.
Take a deep breath, it’ll be OK.
“How many times have I looked back at a place I haven’t visited in 10 years? I think this is a great time for people who are used to traveling to go back to your hard drive … take some time to revel in the memories,” Nabongo said. “I think because we’re constantly planning the next trip, we never get to reminisce about what was so great about so many trips that we’ve already had, whether it’s two months ago, two years ago or 12 years ago.”
Plan a low-key trip post-quarantine
With the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic, it may be difficult to plan a big international getaway once it’s safe to travel again. But not all hope is lost.
There’s a lot to see and do within the 50 states.
“I think it’s a real opportunity to explore more of the U.S.,” Nabongo said. “I think cities like Austin, New Orleans, Los Angeles, New York, Washington D.C. … I think it’s going to be a great time to try out restaurants and support these businesses as they’re coming back together.”
If you’re itching to get your passport stamped, Nabongo suggests taking a trip to Mexico or the Caribbean once it’s safe to travel to those areas.
Travelers can start the planning process – looking at locales and potential things to see and do – even if they want to hold off on booking.
“I think Mexico is always a great idea, it’s super close for most people; it’s affordable; it’s easy,” Nabongo said. “Barbados I think is great, again it’s one of those countries where they have so many tourists it’s really plug and play.”
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