The 14 Best Stay-At-Home Vacay Tips For The Long Weekend
Memorial Day used to be the perfect excuse for a getaway: The first signs of summer weather plus an extra day of weekend time simply calls for an escape. And no matter where you are located or your situation, the idea of an escape probably sounds pretty intriguing right now. Since we can't exactly do that, we've rounded up the best stay-at-home tips, activities, DIY projects, and advice we've learned so far to take you into the long weekend:
A Memorial Day classic: Have a picnic.
"Use your backyard, your balcony, your fire escape, your roof—get creative! You can even set out your picnic blanket right in the middle of the living room floor and just open up all the windows in your house to really get the breeze going," writes mbg's sex and relationships editor Kelly Gonsalves in her guide to date nights during quarantine. "Make all your go-to picnic favorites (the cheese, the sandwiches, the fruit salads, and the like), put on a summery outfit, and have a lazy spring afternoon together."
A long weekend is already a great time for a home renovation project, and now it just feels even more relevant given how many of us are spending more time than usual at home. If you're looking for inspiration from interior designers, go straight to the source with these five tips that will help your home feel more comforting and cozy right now.
Visit the National Parks—virtually.
"At the same time, national parks across the U.S. are closed, and it's unclear when and how they will be reopening. Yet, we need the healing power of nature now more than ever: Countless studies show the benefits of spending time in the outdoors, from lowering blood pressure to anxiety to cortisol. Even looking at photos of nature can help reduce anxiety1, and sounds of nature can limit stress," writes conservation policy and green living expert Heather White. "Here are five ways to connect to beautiful parks and wild places from afar and create your own healing journey from home."
Start a journal.
For the creative-minded and writerly among us, create your own writers' retreat. You don't need to come out of the weekend with a short story collection—simply starting a journaling habit will do. "Journaling is a great exercise for reflection and fostering gratitude," writes mbg contributor Tanya Carroll Richardson. "Looking for silver linings in difficult times doesn't minimize the suffering but rather makes it more bearable. These 26 prompts can help inspire that, and you certainly don't need to work with all of them at once."
Create a DIY spa.
"In the throes of this pandemic, the notion of a spa day has a bit of a different meaning. Whether it's to help quell some COVID-induced anxiety or to quite literally dip your toes into fun products you finally have the time to get your hands on—this quarantine is, at the very least, an excuse to lather up," writes editorial assistant Jamie Schneider. "But even if you don't have a handy collection of clay masks to slather on, we've got you covered. Here, 11 of our favorite DIY beauty treatments so your self-care day becomes as easy as walking into the kitchen. Cue the spa music."
Bar hop in your own home.
One way to emulate a vacation vibe is to create a "night on the town." Recreate your favorite haunts in various rooms or areas of your home, complete with venue-inspired snacks and signature cocktails or mocktails. Then travel your home tasting and trying various bites and sips. Or try all-new ones: Google the hot spots of a city you want to visit, look up their cocktail menu, and try to recreate a drink from it. (Another hack: Don't be afraid to DM bars on Instagram for recipes and tips—they may not give away all their secrets, but they can point you in the right direction if you're stumped on how to make a specific drink.) Then, when we're allowed to travel again, see if your homemade version matched up.
Host a game night.
"There are plenty of virtual board games available on your phone (like Scrabble or Clue) and online (try Jackbox digital games or Cards Against Humanity online). You can also go old-school with games like Truth or Dare, Mafia or Werewolf, Never Have I Ever, and other party classics," writes editorial assistant Abby Moore. "Here are some instructions for how to set up a trivia night or scavenger hunt remotely with your friends."
Recreate a meal.
"Recreate a favorite meal from a special vacation," Carley Schweet, author of Holistic Self-Care Guided Journal tells us. "Bonus points if you have old pictures to look at from your time away." Our advice: Pull up those old photos and let them jog your memory: Was it a pasta dish in Italy? A taco truck masterpiece in L.A.? Do a little Googling and see if you can find a near-match recipe (if the place is famous enough, you just might be able to find the real deal). Then try your best at making it in your kitchen. Of course, you may not have every single, unique ingredient, but you just might be able to come close.
Improve your meditation practice.
"With everything going on around the world, it's likely many of us are looking for ways to de-stress and come back to ourselves as we navigate this unprecedented pandemic. Meditation is an excellent way to do so," writes editorial assistant Sarah Regan. "In its many forms, meditation has been found to reduce anxiety, increase overall feelings of well-being, and even positively affect brain structure. And while you don't need anything to meditate, designating a meditation zone in your home and incorporating certain objects and tools can elevate your practice."
Skip screen time.
Given the rise of telecommuting, Zoom hangouts, and just generally more time on your phone, use the weekend to at least try to disconnect. "This one seems obvious, but it's worth stating: Try going without your phone for an extended period of your time away. Maybe start by shooting for 24 hours and see what happens," writes Cyrena Lee in her guide to a minimalist vacation. "If the idea of it freaks you out—even more reason to try! [I find that it's] amazing how quickly my brain and body shifted from instinctively reaching to constantly check if I had some sort of notification to just being in the moment."
Create a vision board.
"Vision boarding is an excellent way to get clear on your goals and motivated to bring them to life. Not to mention, it's a fun and relaxing activity," writes Regan in our guide to making a vision board. "A vision board is essentially a physical manifestation of your goals. Vision boarding involves collecting images or objects that speak to the future you want to create and arranging them on a board for a tangible and aesthetically pleasing reminder of where you're heading."
Make focaccia art.
"For whatever reason, the quarantine has turned a lot of people into bread bakers. The latest bread trend, following banana bread and sourdough, seems to be focaccia gardens. Cropping up all over social media, these creations involve artfully placing vibrant vegetables and aromatic herbs atop a carb canvas. The end result is an edible garden that tastes as wonderful as it looks," writes Moore. "While the project may seem like something for pros, you can easily do it at home."
Start a new habit or hobby.
Starting a new project or craft can feel daunting." Bringing something into your life that's new—even if it's something you are excited about—can feel like change, and change is scary," says Kelsey J. Patel, a certified reiki master. But just remember how good it feels to complete a task or master a new skill. Use that as your motivation to start. And if you need help kicking off, Patel recommends actually writing down how you know you will feel after completing the task (or trying it for the first time). "Acknowledging all those good feelings will help you motivate yourself to try it," she says.
Get ready for your next real escape.
This Memorial Day weekend may be a mandatory staycation, but you can always start the planning process for when you can actually travel safely again. "Planning for the future gives you something to look forward to, makes you feel more in control, and can make you feel closer as a couple because you're spending time thinking about a shared future together," writes Gonsalves. "Plan your next vacation that you want to take once this pandemic eases. Pick out a dreamy location and scout out hotels, Airbnbs, and activities you'll want to do there together."
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.