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What I’ve Learned from my “Staycation”

I haven’t had a staycation in the traditional sense, where you clear your schedule, plan a spa day at home, or book a weekend in a fancy hotel nearby.

But ever since creating Baltimore Fun Hacks in February with G, I’ve felt a little bit like a tourist in my own city every weekend. It’s been an interesting experience, not unlike my Suburban Summer series featuring my hometown Atlanta a few years ago, and I’ve learned a few things in these past couple of weeks about myself through this little experiment:

A staycation has the potential to satisfy some of my wanderlust…

…but not all of it.

Drinking from a yellow pina colada flavored snowcone in Lexington Market
Eating a pina colada flavored “snowball” in Baltimore’s famous Lexington Market in 17-degree F weather = satisfy some wanderlust?

On the blog, we essentially explore the city and write about unique and fun stuff to do thats free, cheap, or on sale. We’ve written about petting alpacas at a nearby alpaca farm, learning to fly a plane (under $100 with the Groupon and it’s so freaking cool!!), and trying food off of Burger King’s secret menu (yes that’s a thing lol).

We’ve also collected a lot of ideas from friends who know we’re blogging about fun hacks and a few guest readers – ideas that we’ve then gone out to explore for ourselves for the blog! My personal favorites have been going to a cidery in the forest to sample ciders and do a spontaneous American gothic-themed photo shoot, and getting free books from this nonprofit in Baltimore that takes book donations and gives books for free!*

American gothic photoshoot at Millstone Cidery for Baltimore Fun Hacks
Messing around during a spontaneous photoshoot at Millstone Cidery

Getting out of our bubble and doing new things in the city I live in, then writing about them in a blog, really has made me feel like the explorer I become when I travel.

But it’s not completely the same. It’s missing that sparkle – the magic of being in a new place with different tastes, sites, smells, people…Being taken out of your normal context…

My wanderlust/spring fever is STRONG at the moment, so even though BFH has been helpful to alleviate some of it, I still really need to go on a real vacation ASAP (it’s been 5 months since my last vacation!)

Vacation is a mentality not a place

I’ve learned through Baltimore Fun Hacks that being “on vacation” is, to a certain extent, a mentality, not a physical place.

Eating giant oysters in Lexington Market, Baltimore
BFH has turned us into oyster fiends. We’ve checked out some of the $1 oyster happy hours around town plus these gigantic ones at Lexington Market. YUM.

I’m still in Baltimore during my “staycation”. I still live in the same apartment, work at the same job, see the same people…But by engaging myself in looking for fun new stuff to do and exploring the city in that way, I get a little bit of that vacation feeling.

This doesn’t mean I changed my mind about Baltimore

It’s sort of hilarious that I write a blog about fun stuff to do in Baltimore because if you know anything about me, you know I’m not Baltimore’s number one fan. (And if you know anything about Baltimore, you know why. Eeesh, sorry Baltimore, that’s mean.)

I still don’t love Baltimore; I don’t think that will ever change. I’ve learned more about Baltimore through Fun Hacks and I’ve had fun times in Baltimore because of Fun Hacks, but I still feel exactly the same way I did about the city as before. Everyone has their soul-city and Baltimore just isn’t even close for me.

So: Is a staycation worth it?

Short answer: absolutely.

Changing up my routine has been refreshing. Instead of always going to same restaurants and staying in watching movies on the weekends, we’ve been putting ourselves out there more and that’s definitely been worth it. It doesn’t take a huge amount of effort for the payoff.

Group photoshoot at Millstone Cidery for Baltimore Fun Hacks
Fun hacking (and photoshooting) with friends at the cidery

If you want to replicate our staycation style, it’s as simple as Googling fun stuff to do or asking around for ideas from friends (I’m sure your city has its own version of Baltimore Fun Hacks) and try something new during the weekend.

I know that sounds obvious but you don’t realize how much you become a slave to routine until you make a conscious effort to break out of it.

It doesn’t have to be expensive either. A lot of staycations feature “treating yourself” to a fancy spa weekend at a resort hotel. I’m not saying that wouldn’t feel great, but you can staycation without spending a ton of money. If you can’t find fun free stuff, look for Groupons, Living Social Deals, Scoutmobs (if they have it in your city. It’s a free mobile app), and happy hour specials. Trust me, it’s out there!

Checking out at Papermoon Diner in Baltimore
We checked out Baltimore’s wackiest diner, Papermoon Diner, which is covered ceiling to floor in toys.

Another key thing is to try to replicate the way you do things when you actually are traveling. For me, that means taking photos and blogging about all of it. What do you do when you travel- collect postcards? Try to learn a few words in another language? Go walking extensively through the city? If you do what you normally do when traveling, you’ll feel more like you’re actually on vacation.

A staycation will hold you over until you can actually break free of routine and get out in the world somewhere.

Oh and hey, if you’re in Baltimore, do yourself a favor and go pet alpacas at an alpaca farm. It was honestly one of the most memorable experiences of my life.


*The Book Thing was recently found ablaze and is currently rebuilding. To learn more and contribute to rebuilding efforts, go here.


    • mishvo says:

      I think I know who you’re talking about. He wasn’t a professor, he was a community activist who had lived in Baltimore for 65 years. He does a tour of East Baltimore every year for JHSPH students for free. Why do you ask?

  1. Liz says:

    Vacation is a mentality, not a place! Very well said. 🙂

    My version of staycation is showing travelers around my hometown. I get to discover new places and see old ones with fresh eyes. 🙂

    • mishvo says:

      Hi Liz! Thanks for commenting! That’s so true – I completely agree about showing people around where I live or in my hometown. It does make you look at a city you see all the time with a fresh perspective.

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