The Mistakes People Make On Staycations

Experts share common missteps people make when "traveling" in their own hometowns.
Staycations are an opportunity to take a restorative break that won't break the bank.
Lorado via Getty Images
Staycations are an opportunity to take a restorative break that won't break the bank.

Travel is picking up again after a long pandemic lull, but for people with serious financial or health concerns, taking a trip may not be feasible at the moment. Enter the staycation.

Staycations offer a restorative, affordable alternative to expensive vacations. They also provide the opportunity to explore your hometown outside the grind of your daily routine. But not everyone seizes this opportunity to the fullest. We asked travel experts to share some of the missteps they’ve seen people make on staycations.

From failing to unplug to losing out on local discounts, here are 11 mistakes people often make during staycations ― and some advice for avoiding these errors during your own “travels.”

Missing Out On Local Rates

“Don’t forget to ask about a local discount for hotels and attractions. Some hotels, spas, and attractions offer special rates for local travelers. When booking your hotel or experience, ask for a local discount.” Jessica van Dop DeJesus, travel media specialist and blogger at The Dining Traveler

Not Unplugging From Your Regular Life

“In-town can be too close if you have trouble disconnecting from your life nearby. Sometimes the very energy suckers we’re taking a staycation to escape from work, family, or other obligations take our proximity as a sign that we’re available on an ‘as needed’ basis. Don’t waste your staycation budget being frustrated ― set your boundaries by turning off email and pressing ‘ignore.’ Airplane mode is your friend!” ― Olivia Christine Perez, travel blogger at O. Christine

“One mistake is not properly planning for work coverage since you’ll have computer access, so you never end up actually taking a break. Prepare your team in advance for you to be fully out of the office, then shut down your work computer and remove emails/Slack from your phone. You’re the only one who can do that for you, so take control over your time off and follow the guidelines you set.” ― Stephanie Huston, entrepreneur and travel blogger at Steph Explores the World

Booking At The Last Minute

One of the perks of a staycation is that they don’t require a lot of planning, and you can essentially just pick up and go. But many people make the mistake of leaving their bookings to the last minute and then missing out on the experience, whether it’s a hotel you want to stay at or a bucket list restaurant reservation. Just because it’s easy to plan a staycation doesn’t mean you should leave your planning to the last minute.” ― Meg Jerrard, co-founder of Solo Female Travelers

“Right now, with domestic travel picking back up, staycations are more popular than ever! I know many of us like to just wing it, but you won’t like it too much when you arrive and there’s nowhere for you to sleep!” ― Alyssa Ramos, blogger at My Life’s A Travel Movie

Eschewing Guided Tours

“Since people are taking staycations in their own city, they often make the mistake of not going on guided tours ― as they assume that they know their city and its attractions already. In fact, an expert local guide can introduce them to niche and underground places in their own backyard. Consider joining a specialized tour, such as a guided bird tour in a park, or wine experience at a local vineyard. You may be astonished at what you discover through the eyes of another local!” ― La Carmina, travel blogger and TV host

Staycationing Over The Weekend

“Don’t book on the weekend. Avoid the weekend traveler crowds and book your staycation during the week. Not only will your hotel be less crowded but you can probably get reservations to your favorite restaurants on a Wednesday instead of a Saturday.” ― van Dop DeJesus

It's important to actually disconnect from work during your staycation.
Oscar Wong via Getty Images
It's important to actually disconnect from work during your staycation.

Sticking To Your Comfort Zone

“One of the biggest mistakes people make on staycations is sticking with the norm and not venturing outside of their comfort zone. If you are staying in your local town, take this opportunity to discover hidden gems in your area. Join a local Facebook group or search on Pinterest. Go beyond the first page of a Google search. Really take a unique deep dive into what your town has to offer. Perhaps it is an award-winning restaurant you have never heard of. A lesser-known swimming hole. A unique hidden gem. Put in a little bit of effort and push yourself outside of your comfort zone. You don’t have to travel far to find something epic, new, and unique!” ― Victoria Yore, travel blogger at Florida Trippers

“One of the biggest mistakes people make on staycations is not exploring beyond what they know. Many stick to areas and establishments they’re familiar with, with the time off work or school being considered the ‘staycation.’ Discovery is one of travel’s most impactful characteristics. So, visit a local museum, shop, attraction, or restaurant that you weren’t aware of before your mini-adventure. Your local tourism board or chamber of commerce is an excellent source of information in this area.” ― Erick Prince, travel blogger at Minority Nomad

Failing To Pack Properly

“Having stayed in some 10+ staycations in one year in my small country of Singapore, I’ve picked up a few tricks of the trade, as well as some recent trends in the hospitality trade. More and more hotels are ramping up their conservation practices. As such, some hotels no longer provide one-time use toiletries such as toothbrushes and toothpaste. Don’t make the same mistake as I did, assuming that hotels will provide everything. Packing a set of toothbrush and toothpaste doesn’t take any space at all and will save you a ton of hassle having to call room service just to embarrassingly request for a set of those.” ― Isabel Leong, travel blogger at Bel Around The World

Skipping The Classic Tourist Sites

“So many people think they need to avoid doing the obvious things that tourists do. Don’t [avoid them] ― being a tourist in your own city or state can be a lot of fun. So pretend you aren’t a native New Yorker and go up the Empire State Building. Or forget that you grew up in Boston and do the Freedom Trail. These things are popular with tourists for good reason; they are fun things to do. If you are going to do a staycation, do it properly and approach it like any other tourist would.” ― Claire Summers, travel blogger at Claire’s Itchy Feet

Not Preparing Your Home

“If you’re staying at home, prepare your home to be in staycation mode. Since you don’t have to pack a suitcase and you’re not spending money on flights, spruce up your home with your favorite indulgences ― whether that means buying flowers, stocking up on your favorite wine, or scheduling a cleaner before your staycation begins.” ― Huston

Assuming Everyone Has The Same Goals

“One of the greatest mistakes we make with staycations is not setting expectations. It’s easy to end up on a girls’ trip, date-cation, or time with the kids and realize that everyone is on a different page. Some people may want to relax ― enjoy the pool and spa ― and others might want to play tourist in their own town.” ― Stephanie Be, travel blogger and founder of Buena

Not Researching Your ‘Destination’

“I believe the biggest staycation mistake is not to research the destination just as you would for an international trip. Sure, you’ll be staying closer to home, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t new things to discover! It’s interesting that we often ignore the tourist activities closest to home. For example, I often find that tourists who’ve visited my hometown have seen and done more there than I ever did when I lived there! That’s why, for a staycation, I think it’s fun pretending to be a tourist visiting from afar, as it’s sure to turn up a few things. It’s even a chance to do the local ‘cheesy tourist thing’ you’ve always avoided, but which may actually be great. (You can always pretend to do it ironically.) Staycations can actually be quite like cultural trips, at least if you can approach the familiar with a new set of eyes!” ― Marek Bron, travel blogger at Indie Traveller

“There are likely a ton of overlooked or undervalued places in your hometown or state so play the part of tourist on your staycation and do some research. Find a bunch of day trips that you can do throughout the week and new places to explore. Sometimes just driving to an area you have never been to before reveals some amazing gems that you never knew were there.” ― Mark Ostermann, managing editor of Miles to Memories

Quotes have been condensed and edited for clarity.

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