7 Ways to Have a Healthy Vacation Without Ever Leaving Your Home

For the recession-squeezed, or the downright too-exhausted-to-schlep, we tapped the experts for advice on how a typical family of four can have an invigorating (and inexpensive) vacation without leaving home.


staycation-family-bike
Same place, different mind-set—thats the challenge of a staycation. How do you exist within the same four walls, with the same distractions—messy basement, couch and remote, computer, junk food, phone—yet create a relaxing, healthy, away-from-it-all experience? According to a 2009 AP-Gfk poll, one-third of Americans have already canceled a trip due to financial concerns, and more than half have no plans to hit the road this year. For the recession-squeezed, or the downright too-exhausted-to-travel, we tapped the experts for advice on how a typical family of four can have an invigorating (and inexpensive) vacation without leaving home.

Plan to check out—at least mentally
The best way to feel like youre getting away in your own home? Create a vacation plan—and stick with it. “Think about what your intention is for the time off, write it down, then put it up on the fridge,” says Meredith Haberfeld, a New York–based life and career coach. If your goal is to feel connected to your family, set aside specific time for family-only activities, dinners, and outings. Research shows that family rituals (like vacations) boost parents and kids mental and physical health. But just because youre not getting away doesnt mean you cant focus on together time—it just takes a bit more effort.

If youre winging it, youre setting your staycation up for failure. “You need to have some clear goals and set up a schedule,” says Ken Robbins, MD, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. “Most people do a poor job because they dont plan and then they answer the phone, they do an errand, people stop over, and before they know it, the week is over and theyve done what they usually do.”

Rediscover your hometown

For a true mental getaway, explore your surroundings with a visitors eye—it will keep you away from the pull of the daily grind. One great resource is discoveramerica.com. Simply plug in your location and youll find a list of nearby offerings for museums, galleries, libraries, parks, and unique businesses (think candymakers, tea producers, breweries, bakeries). City magazines or weekend newspaper sections are another great resource for in-town events such as outdoor concerts, movies in the park, and theater performances. Or head to the closest college town to take advantage of some free campus offerings, like dance performances, lectures, and more.

Create your own swanky destination
Cant afford to get to Canyon Ranch? You can create nearly the same healthy experience at home. “If youve always wanted to take a yoga, water aerobics, or spinning class, schedule a day where everyone does a few things at the local rec center,” says Melissa Thornton, a marriage and family therapist in Trumbull, Conn. Many gyms and yoga studios offer a free introductory trial or a discount for your first class, or log on to gymticket.com to score free passes to gyms in your area.

Try a little in-house pampering and healthy dining for the ultimate spa experience. Light candles, put body oils and rose petals in a bath, and play some soothing music. Try at-home facials and pedicures for a relaxing mother-daughter group activity. And when your tummies start to rumble, gather your family and head to the kitchen. You can try hundreds of Canyon Ranchs healthy recipes—like Chicken Panzella Salad or Artichoke and Tomato Flatbread—just by signing up (for free!) at the resorts website.


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Kate Meyers
Last Updated: July 02, 2009

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