The arrival of the vacation season, newfound mobility in the US, and the vaccination of the majority of citizens has marked a new chapter in the trips during the pandemic. The new travel style is more flexible, laid-back, and well-planned. From settling in the backyard treehouse to camping at the nearest watering hole, floating on a houseboat or living in an RV at national parks, booking a snug Airbnb, or staying at a luxury villa, staycations are more creative than ever.
Planning a long staycation in the US is a long process of researching, packing, organizing, and analyzing. Here’s a guide to help you make it easier and possible.
Keep scrolling to know everything about planning a long staycation in the USA in 2021.
Factors to Consider Before Planning a Staycation
There are so many things to plan and consider even when planning a short staycation, and if you’re planning to go away for a long time, there are so many more variables that you need to take into account. When planning a staycation for the long term, here are some things you must know to make your long staycation flawless in 2021.
Find your travel style before you leave
Before you start on your long staycation, list down your preferences, ideal routine, requirements, and your best idea of living, this will help you understand your travel style. Some staycationers prefer private Airbnbs over hostels, some prefer RV over resorts, some prefer to travel on a budget, while some believe in luxury staycations. No one way is right or best, but it is essential to know what you would ideally like on your staycation. Knowing this will help you plan your budget, pick your destination, and have more fun.
Some questions to ask yourself to find your staycation style are:
- Do you enjoy being around people and sharing your space or do you prefer your privacy?
- What portion of your budget would you like to spend on your stay?
- What does your ideal getaway look like, do you want your staycation to feel the same?
- What do you absolutely need on your staycation to be comfortable?
- When you travel, do you tend towards a luxury holiday, backpacking, or budget traveling?
Answer these questions as honestly as possible to find your travel and staycation style. You may not always look for the same things on a staycation as on a vacation, but knowing your general preference when away from home will help you find what’s right and comfortable for you.
Visa, Passport, and Insurance
When researching about a destination, check the visa requirements (if any). Know ahead of time whether you need a visa for the country you’re visiting. The Visa process can be extremely expensive and time-consuming if done at the last minute or the border for faster processing.
Get all the information about the visa process before fixing a date for your staycation. Carry photocopies of all important documents and also keep soft copies of your vital documents with you at all times.
If you’re a US citizen, check the document requirements at places like national parks.
Many places don’t let you enter the country if your passport is to expire in 6 months or fewer than 2-4 blank pages. Before planning a long staycation, make sure that you have enough pages and long enough validity to be eligible for entry into the USA.
3. Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is not optional. There are so many emergencies you might encounter that this document is mandatory for all your trips. There are many insurance plans suited for staycationers. Look for options that fit your needs and find cheaper alternatives. World Nomads and SafetyWing are great insurance companies, with affordable plans for all your insurance needs as a staycationer.
Accommodation is the largest cost of your trip and the biggest part of a staycation. Work out your accommodation requirements in the early stages of planning to clarify points like where to go, how much to spend, and essential amenities.
Do you want to spend a long staycation in a luxurious hotel or a comfy home, a tent, or an RV, answer that question and then start finding places.
To make the process of finding accommodation easier, here are some go-to platforms for staycationers:
Finding properties on Airbnb is the top choice of most staycationers. The homes listed on Airbnb are designed for staycationers, they have all the amenities, are equipped for long stays, affordable for small groups or a couple, and are reliable.
Moreover, living in an Airbnb is a unique experience as you get to live in a local’s home, in a local neighborhood, and understand the way of life in the town.
2. Hotels Combined
If you haven’t heard about Hotels Combined, add it to your list of must-know websites. It is the Skyscanner of accommodation. It compares all the top travel sites to find the best hotel rates and discounts for you. All you have to do is type in your destination, dates, and search.
3. Hostels and co-living spaces
If you are a staycationer who loves meeting new people and a laid-back lifestyle, hostels are the perfect pick for you. They are cheap, clean, and convenient. You can find amazing hostels and co-living spaces on websites like Remoters and NomadX.
Organize your finances for a Staycation
Organizing expenses is the biggest task before a long staycation. Once you know your travel style, it is easier to plan the following steps:
1. Planning a budget
Planning a budget for a long staycation is the most crucial step. Estimate the cost of accommodation, travel, food, entertainment, and some emergency fund in your budget. Also, allocate and finalize the portion of the income you want to spend on a certain thing. For example, do you want to spend most part of your budget on accommodation or travel?
2. Saving Money
When you travel for the long term, saving money is really essential. There could be an emergency or a concert that you do not want to miss; sometimes you are behind on your payments but need to pay the bills, having a saved sum comes in handy during such times.
3. Cutting Down on Expenses Wherever Possible
As a staycationers, you have to plan ahead and plan well to cut down on your expenses wherever possible. Especially on travel and accommodation. Look for discounts and coupons on your flights to save money or look for long-term rentals to cut down the cost of the stay.
Location Information & Travel Restrictions
With sudden lockdowns and quarantine restrictions at certain locations, you do not want to get stuck in a place. Before planning a staycation, get more information on the Covid situation and the travel restrictions. Official government websites are the best resource to find any covid-related information.
How to Pack for a Long Staycation
Packing for a staycation is an art. When you finalize a destination and decide the dates, check the weather and your to-do list to know what you will be needing. It is not much different than packing for long-term travel. Get versatile clothing, convertible skirts or shirts, a pair of good shoes, a rain jacket, a swimsuit, and a fleece. Apart from that, you don’t need to get anything in particular, unless you don’t get it anywhere else. You can buy shampoos and body wash wherever you go and get stuff like house slippers, nail cutters, etc. after reaching.
Pro tip: Pack only as much stuff as you will pack for a 1-week trip.
Why staycation is better than a vacation in 2021?
Staycation emerged from taking vacation closer to home to conserve gasoline as part of the war effort in the 1940s. Staycations are coming back in trend after the pandemic. Staycation has multiple benefits over a vacation, especially in 2021, and here’s why:
1. Saves Money
Planning a staycation is a lot cheaper than planning a vacation. You get better deals on accommodation by booking long term, save money on food & transport by planning monthly expenses and the budget allocation becomes easier. You get to know cheaper restaurants, get better deals on rent, meet people and get to know about free events and concerts.
2. More Settled and Laid-back
If you don’t like to keep changing your bed every week or always be on the go, a staycation is the best way to travel for you. Staycation is more spread out in terms of duration and more homely. If you want to move around a place at your pace, a staycation will give you the time and vibe to do it.
3. You Get More Time to Explore a Place
Unlike a vacation, a staycation isn’t about ticking things off your list. Staycation is a slow and laid-back way of settling in a place, creating your space, and then moving around to explore. This gives you a lot of time to explore and discover a city, find your favorite spots, and go beyond just the top attractions of a place.
4. You Learn to Live Like a Local
The only true way to explore a place is by living like a local or blending in with the local customs. Living in a place for the long term is almost living like a local in a place. You meet a community and become a part, get to dive deeper into their way of life, learn and expand. Staycation gives you enough time to feel at home in a place.
5. Safer for the Current Times
After the pandemic, frequently moving around has become tiresome and risky. Staycation is the safest and the most hassle-free way to explore new places during the current times.
You don’t have to worry about getting the test done, lockdowns, cancelation, or anything on a staycation, making it a perfect choice for the current times.
How to Pick a Destination for a Staycation
A staycation differs greatly from a vacation. A vacation destination may not always be the best choice for a staycation. When picking a destination for a staycation, you must dive deeper into the research and consider more than just the cost of living or top attractions. Here’s a list of things you must have in mind before choosing a destination.
1. The livability index
Not all top tourist destinations are staycation friendly. They might be too crowded, too expensive, too secluded, too touristy, or just too much. When planning a staycation the most important thing is to check the livability index of a destination. Consider variables like
- The locale and the safety
- How far or close is the nearest essential store
- Is the community open to welcoming outsiders
- Is it expensive? and
- Do you like it?
2. The weather
Vacationing in varying temperatures is possible, but if you are on a staycation, make sure the weather of the place is pleasant or at least bearable for you. Some of the prettiest destinations can get so hot or so cold during some seasons that it becomes impossible to enjoy the place. Plan your staycation around the best season to visit, especially if it differs from the weather at home.
3. Accessibility of the destination
Accessibility of the destination means how easy and convenient it is to reach that location from home. Especially in 2021, the destination must be well-connected, easy to reach and get out of, and not too far from home in case of emergencies.
When picking a destination for your long staycation, keep in the mind the above factors. Make an informed decision to have the best time of your life on this staycation.
Tips for Planning a Long Staycation in the USA
The pandemic changed the way we travel and brought newer, more innovative ways to stay sane and explore travel possibilities in home-cities or at least closer to home. After a long year of no travel, 2021 brings some hope of being back on the road, with lesser restrictions and formalities.
Whether you want to rent a BnB a few hours from home or plan an adventure at the other end of the country, here are some tips to help you plan a long staycation in 2021.
1. Take advantage of flexible booking policies
Several airlines, hotels, and tour companies are offering flexible booking dates and refundable bookings after the pandemic. Some companies are allowing travelers to cancel with full refunds up to 90 days before the trip and some tour companies are offering all-year coupons that travelers can redeem anytime. Flights are already cheaper than 2019 and more flexible with dates, cancellation policy, etc.
2. Make a backup plan
Before 2020, most travelers set out without a backup plan or even a plan for the trip. After the pandemic, it is important to have a backup plan if you don’t want to be disappointed. With newer restrictions, uncertain policies, and cautious steps towards the new normal, a lot of cities are skeptical to invite travelers. For example, if you can’t enter Utah’s national parks from the state, try accessing them through Arizona. Keep that in mind and leave home with a backup plan.
3. Check what’s reopening
Check the trend of what’s opening and what are the requirements to enter another state. Many destinations are moving beyond negative COVID-19 test and quarantine requirements and giving travelers the option to show proof of full vaccination. For some destinations, you may need nothing. Check what is opening, what is the prediction, and the previous trend before you make a plan.
If you’re planning to move around on your staycation, check the requirements in advance for all the cities.
4. Look for domestic travel options first
Currently, many international destinations aren’t accepting travelers from the U.S.—and those that do, are often changing their requirements (including requiring multi-day quarantines and negative COVID tests) as case numbers shift.
With lockdowns still in place in some countries, international travel may not be the safest option for a staycation. Look for domestic travel destinations, take a road trip instead of flights for more flexibility, and plan a trip within a few hours of your home base.
5. Plan Ahead
Book stays for all the cities you want to visit on a staycation in advance, compare the prices on all websites, and make a blueprint of the plan.
International travel may be workable in 2022 when more people will be vaccinated and countries will have procedures for keeping both tourists and their citizens safer. Start planning for those trips, take advantage of lower rates, do everything you can do at home before planning that trip, and keep checking the updates from the country you want to travel to.
Planning a long-term staycation is a fun and exciting way to travel right now. Although you might have to spend more time planning and researching than usual, with more ease on domestic travel and the perfect summer weather, it is a great time to plan a long staycation with your family, friends, partner, or pet.