Guest post: Teresa Siqueira, content marketing, Porch.com
Every year, many people put aside their work, daily stresses and responsibilities and escape on a vacation, somewhere far away from reality. It may be a secluded retreat in the mountains, a camping trip with the kids, an arranged tour in another country, an Alaskan cruise, or days relaxing at an exotic beach or resort.
However, with the current pandemic including social distancing and travel restrictions, along with financial constraints for many, those plans may have to be temporarily shelved. But the desire to escape reality – for just a bit – is very much alive. So, with many people remaining in their homes, how can that off-work journey happen? We have some tips for making the best of the situation and creating cherished vacation memories without ever leaving home. It’s called a staycation.
What’s a staycation?
A staycation is, quite simply, a vacation at home. How realistic, how exciting, or how relaxing you make it is up to you. Theme it up for a more authentic “away-from-home” experience.
What makes a great staycation? Well, that depends on what you consider a vacation. Some people want adventure, while others like relaxing with a drink in their hand. Still others use vacation time to unwind by tackling DIY projects such as renovations. So, what would you enjoy doing if you could craft your own staycation? (Which, by the way, you can.)
Commit to it
Once you’ve decided to schedule a staycation – whatever it ends up being – commit to it. Mark it on your calendar. Plan for it. Make concrete plans. If you’re working, ask for those days off of work. Don’t just say you’re going to have a vacation and spend the weekend lounging on the sofa, noshing on Cheetos and surfing the internet, unless a week of rest is the staycation you’ve planned.
Whenever you’re going for vacation in your home – especially in these times when so many of us are working from home – try to unplug so your mind’s not on work and responsibilities. Set your work email to the “out of office” setting and write an auto-reply message. Then, don’t check your work emails unless absolutely necessary. Consider NOT telling your boss that you’re vacationing at home. Turn your cell phone off or on silent, and set a small window of time each day to check for messages.
Skip the news. The idea is to get away from stress, away from reality. Just concentrate on your vacation experience. The news cycle can wait for a week. Really, it can. This is the time to be good to yourself.
Prepare for your staycation much like you’d prep for any other vacation. Create your itinerary. Decide what kind of activities you would like to do each day of your vacation. What kind of staycation would you like? Cultural learning, straight-up fun, pampering, relaxing? Write your vacation goals down, and then make a game plan. Don’t want to cook while on vacation? Gather menus from local restaurants that deliver, and have them on hand. You could even incorporate different restaurants into the theme of your vacation.
Before your official vacation start time, do all the necessary prep work. Complete all chores in advance. Wash the dishes, dust, pay the bills, scrub the toilets, empty the trash. Do the laundry BEFORE your staycation begins. You don’t really want to be sorting and folding while on vacation, do you?
Set the Mood for your Staycation
Many people have saved money in anticipation of an annual vacation to pay for things like hotel rooms, meals, plane tickets and a rental car. Why not channel some of those funds into your at-home vacation paradise?
Create your staycation space – really, truly, set up a space that exudes the theme of your vacation. Move the furniture, change the lighting, order pillows, fairy lights or scented candles – whatever your theme is, run with it. Look at magazines or online trip websites for inspiration. Think about the destination you want. Paradise under the palms? Set up a piña colada or margarita station at home. Roll up the rugs and go barefoot like you’re on the beach. Set up a hammock between backyard trees or on your back porch.
Dreaming of a mountain retreat? Set out pine-scented candles and decorate the room with cottage home decor. Plan for any purchases you’ll need for your staycation. Does your week require some relaxing pillows, aromatherapy candles, a tent or hammock? Dreaming of an overseas vacation? Hit the international foods section of your grocery and stock up on items from that region to set the mood. Planning a spa retreat week? Buy a set of high-thread-count sheets, a couple of luxurious pillows, scented bath salts, essential oils, and a super-soft robe.
To make your staycation ambiance even more realistic, you can make a vacation soundtrack with music that reminds you of that particular place, or perhaps a past favorite vacation that you’d like to recreate. Going to the beach in your mind? Ramp up some Jimmy Buffet music. Missing that trip to Brazil this summer? Make your own compilation of Brazilian favorites including the likes of Roberto Carlos or Anitta. Or queue up some internet music mixes.
Think about your favorite luxury hotel amenities and try to replicate some of those special touches at your own staycation. Love peppermints or chocolates on your pillows? Do it. How about a fruit basket, or a water pitcher of cold spring water infused with the subtle flavor and inviting look of cut fruit? Make it happen. This is all about helping you feel like you’re somewhere else.
How about a pampering week, helping you release all the stress that’s built up this year? Consider a self-care “getaway” with a spa day, a YouTube yoga session, or a self-manicure. Start a journal of self-discovery. Draw a warm bubble bath, adding some calming essential oils like lavender or chamomile. Slip into the welcoming suds as you relax your mind and body. Soft music and candles invite you to soak away the stress. Then, wrap yourself up in the soft hug of a luxurious robe. This vacation is all about being good to yourself.
Retail Therapy Weekend
If you have money saved up that you won’t spend on a vacation this summer and miss shopping, you may want to arrange a retail therapy staycation. Curl up on the sofa with a glass of wine and start online shopping. You could budget what you had already set aside for your anticipated actual vacation, and spend some of that money, or just “window-shop” and dream from the comfort of your favorite recliner.
Plan Future Vacations
You can’t travel much right now, but the future is wide open. You’ve been staring at your walls for quite a while now, longing to escape. Why not start that escape, at least in your mind? Begin planning your post-pandemic road trip (or plane trip). There’s no time like the present to ponder where you’d like to visit – start with the continent or country, and narrow it down from there. Search online for destinations, hotels and fun activities. Jot them down and start planning for next year.
Look online for interesting destinations and then start searching for places you can stay, like at hotels or bed and breakfast inns. What kind of activities can you participate in while there? Take notes, plan your budget, and work out the details so when it’s time to fly the pandemic coop, you’ll have all your ducks in a row for your next adventure.
Cook a fancy dinner
The internet is filled with how-to-cook videos. Zero in on one and cook that meal and impress your spouse or family. See if you can find fanciful foods that fit into the theme of your staycation. Or, ask your family to pamper you and cook (including doing the dishes.). You can also sign up for delivered meal preparation kits. These kits arrive at your doorstep with all of the ingredients, already prepped, along with step-by-step directions. You’ll feel like a professional chef in no time.
You may be someone who just needs to chill for a vacation. Vacations don’t always have to be about excitement and activity. Sometimes, you just need peace and quiet to de-stress from life.
Create your zen vacation in a quiet place of your home – make it off limits to the children (perhaps you have someone who can take care of them). Then, unplug your clocks or put them in the closet so you can’t see them. Turn off your phone, put on earphones (if there’s house noise you can’t block out) and just…chill.
Fun for the Whole Family
If you’re quarantining with your family and yearning for a vacation, build a staycation with a family-friendly theme or activities. Although you have been in each other’s space for months, there are ways you can spend quality, vacation-esque time as a family and build beautiful bonds.
Go camping for your staycation – for a night, a week, or somewhere in between – you choose. Set up a tent in the backyard, complete with sleeping bags and camp lights. Don’t forget the mosquito repellent or citronella candles. Pack up snacks in bags for a more authentic experience, and string lights in the trees or at the top of the tent for some extra ambiance.
Snag a couple of bags of ice from the store and fill a cooler with food and drinks to keep with the campout theme. Cook your meals on a grill, or have a fire pit if regulations allow. Roast marshmallows or craft s’mores. Tell stories around the fire. Stay up too late and laugh too much.
If your idea of camping is closer to glamping, or you don’t have a backyard, then move things indoors. Set up a tent or have your kids create a tent by hanging sheets and other fabrics in clever ways. Unleash your children’s creativity with tent-making – they know how to make the best tents and forts. Set up your indoor camping ambiance with flashlights and flameless candles for light sources. Eat from paper plates and make s’mores in the microwave. Search for a campfire video to play on your TV.
Have a family costume night or a themed party during your staycation. Challenge your kids to dress up as their favorite movie character, singer, or superhero, using clothes, props and supplies already in your home.
Love watching movies? Build a staycation around that. Have a themed movie marathon. Each family member picks a movie that you all watch, or you could categorize movies, like comedies, animation, action or another genre. Don’t forget the popcorn. Plan ahead and surprise your “movie audience” with their favorite movie theater candy and sodas.
Music or Karaoke Party
Use some of the money you would have spent on lodging, meals, attraction fees and more – and buy a karaoke machine. You may find your family singing until they’re all hoarse and falling down in laughter. Learn a new song on an instrument you play, and hold a “recital” in your living room. If more than one member of your family plays an instrument, work on a performance together.
Virtual Travel and Games
You could also spend the summer vacation money on virtual reality headsets. This marvelous technology is a fantastic way to virtually leave your house and go on vacations together, using 3D travel apps. Want to walk the streets of Paris? Climb mountains in the Himalayas? You’re only a VR headset away.
Backyard Water Game Day
Beat the summer heat on your staycation with a day of water games in your backyard. Ask your kids to plan games and gather the necessary accessories like water hoses, kiddie pools, sprinklers, soaking guns, water slides, water balloons (be sure to pick up the broken balloon pieces) and plenty of sunblock. You can go all out renting an inflatable water play set, or you can keep it budget-friendly. Bring on the popsicles and laughter.
Night in for the Parents
Parents may just need a vacation from their kids. Try to set up a cozy, romantic room or patio area for your loved one. Group candles around your backyard. Flameless candles4 are great and there’s no fire hazard. Set up a hammock or pillows or some other way to relax. Chill a bottle of wine, soda or whatever happens to be your favorite beverage. Make up a cheese tray. It can be fancy, or it can be laid-back. Pour a bag of chips into a bowl if that’s your style. Set some mood music, relax and kick back.
Many people love to travel to new locations and learn about culture, architecture, art, languages, food, and more. The opportunity to learn something new during your staycation is limited only by your imagination.
Because of the pandemic, many museums now offer free virtual tours. Spend days in the Louvre, or take an interactive tour of Mark Twain’s house. Visit zoos virtually, or set up Zoom meetings with friends or relatives in different countries so you can practice conversing in a foreign language.
Travel the world for free using your local library card. Libraries have a wealth of e-books available to download from the library’s website onto your own device. Just pick them out and download, prop your feet up and escape into a mystery, thriller, romance, fantasy, or whatever genre you enjoy. Have your favorite beverage and snacks near your reading haven.
Take an online class on cooking, digital art, sewing, or something that intrigues you. This is your staycation. If your goal is to spend more time outdoors, consider starting a new flower or vegetable garden or a compost pile. Set up a rain barrel water collection system, making use of the rainwater rolling off your roof.
You can even make it a learning vacation for your pet. Learn how to teach your pet tricks or a new skill, like sniffing out smells. Or, just chill with your cuddly cat on your lap. For some, that’s a heavenly vacation.
For those who would rather “do” than chill, spend your staycation time learning a new craft. Clear out your schedule and spend that time really digging into whatever it is you want to learn. Use budgeted summer vacation money to order acrylic or oil paints, modeling clay, mosaics or stained glass supplies, whatever strikes your fancy, and learn a new skill you’ll maintain long after your staycation is over.
Renovate a Space in your Home
For those who need to be active during vacations, think about a renovation vacation. Since you’ve been home so much the last two months, no doubt you’ve zeroed in on a corner or a room of your house that’s begging for an update or a redo. Repaint the kitchen and add a backsplash or replace the flooring. Update your bedroom, adding new curtains or blinds. Turn that depressing basement into a new game room, guest room or home office. Browse among the DIY articles from professionals for inspiration and guidance.
Whatever your stay-at-home vacation fantasy is, try to make it happen. This pandemic won’t last forever, and the vacation you take this summer, at your own home, may just spark some of the best memories ever. Don’t forget to take photos!
By Maria Flouskakos
The Covid-19 pandemic has been very stressful for avid travelers especially with the lock downs, travel restrictions and border closures. A lot of people are itching to leave their homes and have a safe, secure getaway. The Maldives is a safe, great place for Americans to travel during this pandemic.
When traveling to the Maldives, it is important to keep in mind that we are still in a pandemic. You should wear a face mask in public, follow social distancing rules and test negative for the Covid-19 prior to arrival and upon your return home.
In The Maldives, you are not required to quarantine upon arrival. However, travelers must follow all precautions in order to be safe on vacation.
Before traveling to the Maldives it is important to keep in mind that you have to exchange your American dollars to the Maldives Rufiyaa which is the currency that they use in the Maldives. American Travelers will find the Maldives offers exceptional value for money -- $1 United States Dollar is equivalent to 15.40 Maldivian Rufiyaa.
The currency is available in denominations of 500, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5 Rufiyaa notes. You can exchange currency at the airport at the Bank of Maldives Foreign Exchange counter, which is the only dedicated foreign exchange counter.
As a bucket list destination for many people, our Maldives travel package will enable you to uncover some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. You can also partake in water activities --snorkel, scuba dive, jet ski, water tube, the list goes on.
The Maldives has many amazing foods to highlight their culture.
Coconut is an important ingredient in many dishes, served in grated form, as milk or as coconut oil to deep fry foods.
The Maldives is an Islamic nation. With that being said, the population does not consume alcoholic beverages. Local residents drink tea or raa which is a traditional drink that can be tapped from palm trees. Despite this fact, most of the Maldives resorts carry alcohol for their international visitors.
Our Maldives travel package includes accommodations (with all meals). We have soft adventure excursions compliments of Turtle Maldives to make your vacation an affair to remember. For example, we can arrange for you to have a sunset dinner on a beach, sunset cruise and relax on a secluded beach.
We hope you book this Maldives sightseeing trip.
Here’s How You Can Create the Vacation Home of Your Dreams (and Maybe Even Make Money From It)
Guest Post: Jessie Clarke from Soulful Travel
There’s no other way to say it: a property in your favorite vacation spot is a great asset to have. Not only does it sound like a real dream come true, but it can also be a potential money-maker as a vacation rental. Of course, even such a pleasurable investment prospect still requires a great deal of thought and sound decision-making. So, before making this significant purchase, you will want to ensure that it’s well-placed for success. Begin with these tips.
Determine your preferred location.
When on the market for a vacation property, you likely already have an exotic locale in mind. Regardless if it’s in a vibrant seaside town or a sleepy mountain village, Investing In Properties points out that the fundamentals of buying are the same. Before anything else, you will want to consider where you want the property to be situated — close to establishments or something more secluded or even a little bit of both. This will essentially narrow down your search, but know that it will also give you fewer options, which brings us to the next point.
Tackle business basics.
Once you determine your location, if you intend to run this as a business you’ll need to cover some fundamentals. Come up with a catchy name, develop a business plan, and establish an LLC to protect your personal assets. No matter how small or large your venture, doing things correctly will set you up for success.
Know how to recognize potential.
In an ideal world, you will quickly find your dream vacation property, fully equipped with all the bells and whistles you could possibly want. But more often than not, the opposite is true. While there are some very good properties out there, you will also have to take into account the all-important issue of your budget, which, in most cases, can be quite limiting.
For this reason, it’s definitely important to keep an open mind and have a great eye for potential. As a rule, be on the lookout for signs of roof damage, mold, insulation problems, and the like, but also don’t dismiss a home because of a bad paint job. You may need to get a home inspection and make improvements and upgrades here and there — as well as ensure that your budget can cover it — but these are often small hurdles on the road toward your dream vacation retreat and definitely nothing that can’t be handled.
Think like a guest.
And speaking of home upgrades, a good home with good bones will stand to benefit from a few key improvements to make it more like the vacation home that you expect, as well as attractive to potential renters should you decide to go that route. The best part is, these can be inexpensive. So, get started by putting yourself in your future guests’ shoes and taking stock of what the property needs to be compelling to you.
The kitchen and bathrooms are often a priority, so think about updating fixtures and appliances if they are dated, looking to the latest design trends for inspiration; Rooms to Rooms notes shiny metallic sinks are all the rage, as well as colored appliances.
Bring in the pros.
Of course, improvements to your vacation property need to be well-executed to really meet your (and possible tenants’) expectations. As tempting as it might be to cut corners and do it yourself, it’s still best not to leave it to chance as the success of your vacation home as rental hinges upon it. You can get some estimates from a handyman and factor in materials for a clear picture of how much your potential upgrades will set you back. However, with a generous ROI to look forward to if you do decide to rent it out, you’ll likely have a win-win situation on your hands.
Suffice it to say, a vacation home is not only a worthy investment, but it’s also worth the expense and effort that goes into making it the best that it could possibly be. And when it’s time to take a break from working on your property to enjoy your new home away from home, be sure to connect with Allen Batista Travel for plenty of fun, relaxing entertainment options!
By Kendall Mason
Cuba has remained a mystery to Americans since the 1960’s. An embargo on trade effectively banned travel to the island, stopping people from exploring the country’s beauty and culture. Now that nearly 60 years have passed, travel to Cuba is possible again. You can explore crystal clear, Carribean waters, hike through mesmerizing parks, marvel at local art, savor the delicious food, and so much more.
While there are travel restrictions and policies in place that must be kept in mind, Cuba is finally open for exploration, relaxation, and making unforgettable memories. With so much to do, see, and enjoy, it’s a trip that you cannot miss on this Cuban travel package.
Travel to Cuba became possible during the Obama administration after being banned through a trade embargo put in place by JFK in 1962/1963. It’s been a long road to get to where we are today, and there are still a number of rules and requirements that you need to keep in mind when traveling to Cuba.
First off, you’ll be traveling under the “Support for the Cuban People” category of permitted travel. It is one of eleven categories of permissible travel, and it states that American citizens can go to Cuba in order to stimulate the economy, specifically the private sector. It encourages tourists to avoid spending any money with the Cuban government, and it lists a number of other restricted entities. Don’t worry, your trip will be planned to avoid these establishments completely.
While we’re on the subject of money, you should know that your credit and debit card will not work in Cuba. Cash is the way to go. Some other things you need to bring? Your valid passport, a travel visa or Cuban tourist card, non U.S. medical insurance (you can often buy this with your plane ticket), return travel documents, and a certification of travel form.
Add these things to your packing list; you don’t want to get to the airport and realize you’ve forgotten your passport! While it may sound like a lot, your travel advisors will help you and ensure that everything is perfect before your trip.
You may not know the countless activities that Cuba has to offer, which makes sense when the country has been closed to you for nearly sixty years. Don’t worry, I’m going to suggest some of the best to you, and there’s something for everyone on this guided Havana sightseeing trip.
Regardless of how you like to spend your time, Cuba has something for you. Let’s start with a staple of the Caribbean: the beaches. Crystal clear water, white sand, and plenty of fun activities will be all around you. Try Varadero Beach for relaxation; take a long walk, dip into the warm water, or just lay around in the sun. Santa Maria del Mar is the beach for partying and fun, and Playa Guanabo is best for those who want to have some fun, explore, and stay away from big crowds.
There’s so much more than beaches, so don’t feel discouraged if sun and sand isn’t your favorite. Cuba offers beautiful, natural attractions if you want to explore the outdoors without going to the beach. Explore a national park, go on a hike, and see some wildlife! Alejandro de Humboldt National Park offers the chance to take in Cuba’s natural beauty with unique geography, plentiful wildlife, and more. It is just one of many national parks; whether you are interested in birding, experiencing natural wonders like waterfalls, or just hiking through the wilderness, there is something for you.
Art, Culture, History and More
Stunning natural wonders are not the only thing that Cuba has to offer. The island has a rich history that has led to beautiful works of art and culture. Interested in seeing some? Cuba’s museums may be for you. Try the Museo de la Revolución to learn about the revolution of 1959 or the Museo de Bellas Artes to enjoy fine and contemporary art. The Havana Rum Museum gives the chance to learn about the history of rum in Cuba. Visit any of these museums, or any of the others that the island has to offer, and learn something about the amazing country that you’re visiting!
You can experience Cuba’s culture firsthand, as well as, through a Havana sightseeing trip. On this tour you will walk through old Havana, learning about the history and culture as you go. You’ll have the chance to see astonishing sites like El Paseo del Prado, El Bosque, Plaza de Revolución, and more. Don’t forget about other attractions, such as Ernest Hemingway’s apartment, a UNESCO world heritage site, and the birthplace of the mojito. By the end, you’ll have a better understanding of the culture that is surrounding you.
No matter what you choose, Cuba has something for you. Experience its natural beauty, taste local food and drinks, and learn something about the island. What’s stopping you? Spend your next vacation in Cuba!
We hope you will join us on a Havana sightseeing trip.