Staycationing: 5 star tips

We’ve walked you through how we made the decision to go on a ‘staycation’ rather than a vacation and how we formulated our itinerary. Now, let me offer some pointers for making your back-yard vacation just as exciting and fun as a ‘real’ vacation.

About 3 days before our staycation we made a list of what it means to be on vacation – to us.


  • special coffee
  • sleeping in
  • seeing new things
  • visiting historical things (museums, monuments)
  • going on tours


  • snacks
  • touristy sight seeing – complete with snap happy cameras
  • relaxing place to crash
  • discovering new places
  • a new and exciting playlist
  • slow delicious breakfasts in my pj’s
  • absolutely no watching the clock – or wearing a watch!
  • buying souvenirs

From here we had a pretty good idea of what vacation means to both of us and we incorporated these elements into our time off. Jake made a great mixed CD that stayed in the car, we booked 2 guided tours, picked up unique K-cups (a splurge lately) and stocked the kitchen with luxe snacks we would never buy ourselves and a hotel would totally charge $5 a pop for: Milano cookies, san pelligrino, pistachios, pretzel snacks, glass bottled water…silly I know but totally fun!

Next we set out ‘rules’ for making these days special and ours

  1. No cell phones unless A: Mapping a route or B: it’s an emergency
  2. No alarms
  3. No X-Box (netflix) – a late night movie with popcorn was an exception
  4. No internet
  5. No visiting places we’ve been or go to regularly (the grocery store, Target, Starbucks, or restaurants) if we wanted/needed those things we had to find one we don’t usually use – say across town.

Then we set out to make our home feel like a 5 star hotel:

  • clean, clean, clean! – everything, toilets, the back-splash, the fridge, empty the trash.  If you wouldn’t see it at the Brown Palace, we didn’t want to see it this weekend. TIP: do this a bit at a time in the week before your ‘vacation’ to prevent last minute stress – lesson we learned the hard way.
  • Fresh Flowers – We picked up a few from the store and dispersed them throughout the apartment. In the bedroom, dining room, bathroom, kitchen, wherever we thought we’d see them in a hotel.
  • A ‘mini-bar’ with mini snacks and fancy sodas in a basket. This was unique because the basket sat as a welcome full of our faves – as i mentioned before stuff we wouldn’t usually buy. (I sneaked them in the grocery cart a bit at a time, up to three weeks in advance, to take the sting out of the price tag)
  • Fresh sheets. “the good ones” oh, you know you have a set of sheets that feel sooo much better than all the others…use those.
  • Mini toiletries.  So I didn’t think of this in time but next staycation I’m totally doing it.
  • Candles & soft lighting. Skip those overhead lights, opt for lamps and candle light! – “fancy pantsy”
  • Play up the qualities you love about your home. For us it’s the view (it is quite fantastic) so we left the shades open and made sure to soak the panoramic scene up.
  • Pillow mints. – nothing says vacation like candy on your pillow – specifically chocolate candy!
  • BOARD your pets! Taking the dog out every few hours & worrying about being home in a timely manner wasn’t ‘vacationey’, so we boarded Izzy overnight Thursday then picked her up on Friday and boarded her overnight again Saturday (by doing one night at a time we cut the boarding cost down to $60 instead of $180!) Worth. every. cent.

I took a few extra steps and made a sign for our ‘hotel’, a do not disturb door hanger  and informational leaflets (you know those annoying little “Enjoy your stay at the Hampton Inn, use our soap” doo-dads) that were full of sarcasm and my off-beat sense of humor but made Jake laugh.  I also ordered a “Visit Colorado” guidebook free on the state’s tourism website – holy moly, guacamolie!  This book had an entire 2 years worth of awesome things to do – I had no idea there is a such thing as the “Mike the Headless Chicken Festival” sign me in!!!!

We had planned on detailing the cars, washing the inside and outside but I was lazy and just threw everything in the back. I also froze a few extra meals to avoid cooking but we never came to such desperate measures. Aside from loading the dishwasher we did absolutely no housework/laundry/anything during our time at home.

I’d say that these little things made a big difference. Treating home like it’s someplace new and retreat like was fun. Trying to get Jake int he vacation mindset (via goofing off) I opened the door on Wednesday night exclaiming “WHOAH!! It has a full kitchen…and LAUNDRY… OHHHH THE VIEWWWWW is AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!….HOW did they KNOW I love orange dark chocolate MILANO COOKIES?!?!?!”  wittily retorted “it’s complete with an overgrown RAT!!! We should talk to management.” as Izzy welcomed him home. This vacation was off to a really fun start.

From this experience we learned staycations are about as fun as you make them.  You really do get out what you put in, we put a lot in and we received an abundance in return.

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