11 Things To Do If You Can't Take A Vacation That Will Still Help You Unwind

Not everyone has a generous amount of vacation days, and if you're in that particular boat, then it can seem extremely depressing moving through the months and knowing you don't have a fun beach trip to look forward to. But there are things you can do if you can't take a vacation that will make you feel just as relaxed and adventurous as you would be with a passport and plane ticket in your hand. It's not like you need a sunburn or flip-flop blisters to feel like you've done something amazing with your week, right?

The main reason we love going on trips so much is because of the novelty of it all. You get to explore new nooks, walk down unfamiliar streets, check out a plethora of interesting restaurants, and be exposed to a new culture. You get to jump out of your comfort zone and learn new things, which makes it feel exciting and invigorating. But the great thing about that is, you can recreate that feeling of novelty back at home. Enter the beauty of the staycation: You can bring your traveling plans right down to your own zip code. All it takes is some clever planning. Below are 11 ways to have a staycation in your own city.

1. Find The Most Impressive Nature Spot Near You

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Buddy up with Google and figure out what's the most impressive nature spot near you and head there. Whether it's a hiking path or a tulip farm, removing yourself from that city atmosphere will make you feel like you're on an actual break and will allow you to recharge. Lifestyle writer Kari Henley from Huffington Post offered, "Going for a hike? Bring along some paper and stop along the way to contemplate, jot a poem or draw a picture. Let the right brain take over for a while." This will ensure that you're not only hiking around, but also letting your brain muscles flex.

2. Do A Staycation In Your Own Town

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Chances are your town or city has its own gems it offers, so take advantage and enjoy them. Lifestyle writer Kristin Wong from Lifehacker explained, "Maybe you wouldn’t exactly describe your town as a cultural epicenter. That’s fine — you don’t have to live in London to get some nearby novelty. Visit local museums, parks, have dinner in a different part of town." You can even stay at a suave hotel to make it feel exciting (and avoid chores), and then walk around looking at things from the eyes of a tourist.

3. Say Yes To Things You Normally Wouldn't

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If your friend suggests going to a restaurant you normally wouldn't pick out, offers up tickets to a show on a Tuesday, or wants to go bar hopping in a part of town you normally ignore, say yes! We enjoy vacations because of the novelty of them, so embracing that same newness in our everyday lives can bring some of that spark. Wong pointed out, "Embracing novelty might be as simple as trying a new restaurant. Or going to an event you wouldn’t normally go to. And remember—trying something new doesn’t have to be comfortable. Vacations are often uncomfortable—you might eat something you don’t like, sleep in weird places, or (ahem) pee in squat toilets." You never know what cool experiences those yeses can lead to.

4. Get Hella Indulgent At Home

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Alright, so you can't actually leave the city this weekend to relax. Instead, take advantage of the weekend and get ridiculously indulgent. Make it a "treat yo' self" day, and pamper yourself to the nines on the couch. Henley gave an example and stated, "Do something indulgent, like watching TV in bed with a bowl of ice cream in the middle of the afternoon." Or go buy some spa masks and creams and do a pampering day, or buy takeout from a fancy restaurant and having a relaxing dinner at home, or go into the tub with a book and wine. It's up to you!

5. Make It A Fancy Night Out

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Pretend you're in New York or London and plan a fancy night out to go see a show. Get dolled up, meet for drinks somewhere suave and elegant beforehand, and plan to go to dinner somewhere equally as chi-chi afterwards. Business writer Steve Odland from Forbes recommended, "Of course major cities have theater, opera, dance, etc. But many smaller communities have either travelling versions or local playhouses that can be just as much fun." Don't forget those mini binoculars!

6. Take A Mini Cruise

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Do you live near a lake or river? Chances are your town offers mini cruises on fancy boats, where dinner and drinks are served. Leave the Hawaiian-print shirt at home, but take advantage of the offer. Odland advised, "Most lakes have some sort of dinner or sightseeing cruise that runs in the summer. Hop on." It'll be a fun change of pace!

7. Make A Spa Day With Friends

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Earmark a whole day for drinking champagne with friends and pampering yourselves on your couch. Lifestyle writer Emily Goldman from Mashable recommended, "Be your own Elizabeth Arden with face masks and body scrubs you can make out of ingredients in your refrigerator. Get your friends together for a day of pampering without the heavy price tag." And you'll probably die laughing from mixing all those weird ingredients together and putting them on your face and hair. It'll be amazing.

8. Take A Class

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Give yourself that vacation feel by signing up to try something new. Take that Asian cooking class, sign up to learn Salsa, book that yoga class — the possibilities are endless. Goldman advised, "Check services like Meetup or apps like Hobtime to find activities near you. Learning a new skill will break your every day [sic] routine, and unusual experiences will do more for your happiness than many worldly possessions." Seek out some of the activities you'd love to take at your dream destination.

9. Find A Festival

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This doesn't just have to be your usual summer-slash-concert festival — you can extend it to just about any activity you can think of. Lifestyle writer Hillary Hutchinson from self-development site Transitioning Your Life explained, "From arts to farmer’s markets, check out what’s local that you would enjoy, and take a day off to enjoy it. Even better if it happens to be outside of the 20-mile radius you most likely traverse on a regular basis to give you that sense of getting away." So get in your car and get ready for some fun.

10. Take Touristy Photos

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Half the fun of visiting somewhere new is finding fun ways to capture it with your camera, so do the same in your hometown (or a city an hour or two away to mix things up.) Lifestyle writer Adrienne Breaux from Apartment Therapy offered, "That well-known statue in your town square. A view from the park downtown. The famous graffiti. Your city's welcoming sign. Even if you've already seen a lot of your city's tourist spots, embrace the cheesiness of visiting them again by taking photos of yourself in front of them." Not only will you have fun hunting up those spots, but it'll get your creativity going.

11. Take Advantage Of What's Free

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Not only will it cost you nada, but it might open you up to new experiences you wouldn't have necessarily sought out on your own. Lifestyle writer Henrik Kjellberg from Huffington Post said, "Most cities offer free events for friends and families from farmers markets offering local flavors, to art fairs, street festivals and concerts. You can also soak in the sun at one of your waterfront beaches or national parks." You never know what kind of cool new interests you'll run across.

Keeping these in mind, you won't have to stay stuck at home even though there are no vacation days around the corner!

Images: Ian Schneider/Unsplash

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