6 staycation ideas to recharge your mental health

by Kaiser Permanente |
Smiling group of friends enjoy time outdoors

As the weather warms up, you may be dreaming of your next vacation getaway. Whether you’re heading to another country or planning a day trip, it’s important to take a break from your day-to-day life to avoid burnout. And there’s no better time to relax and reset than during the lazy days of summer.

Taking a vacation can be good for your mental and emotional health. A recent study found that people who travel reported higher levels of happiness than those who never or rarely travel.1 In addition, mentally detaching from your work while on vacation can help to reduce stress levels.2

But if you’re not able to get away, should you skip the vacation? Absolutely not. The good news is you can experience the health benefits of a vacation by taking a "staycation" — no passport required. One study found that simply spending time in a different area or trying a new experience can lead to increased happiness and well-being.3

So whether you want to explore your city or take time for some much-needed self-care, a staycation can be anything you want it to be. Here are 6 fun ideas to try.

Go camping

Heading outdoors is a great way to get away from everything. And you can enjoy open-air spaces for as little or as long as you want. A quick, online search for local camping areas can help you plan an overnight stay — or longer. You can stay close to home, too, by camping in your own backyard. Spending time in nature can be that breath of fresh air you need.

Book a short-term rental

If you don’t want to stay at your home, stay in someone else’s. Want to spend a few days at a house with a pool? Many short-term home rental companies offer this and other amenities. You can recharge your batteries by spending a lovely weekend in a place that feels like home. Take walks, cook, and discover new neighborhoods to refresh your mind.

Take a day trip

Staycations give you an opportunity to explore your own city. This offers you the chance to finally make a quick trip to that charming, nearby town to visit museums, local historical sites, shops, and restaurants. Best of all, you won’t need to budget for a hotel.

Host your own film festival

Start your staycation by ordering food from your favorite takeout restaurant. Then, enjoy a movie marathon by watching a popular movie trilogy or television series. You can even invite your friends and family over, have each person pick a movie to watch, pop some popcorn, and have fun!

Travel without leaving the house

You don’t have to travel to Paris, Italy, Hawaii, or theme parks to enjoy what these places have to offer. In fact, you can design your own world — all it takes is a little creativity. Just pick a theme. It can be a specific country, something from pop culture, or even outer space. Then, invite friends or family over for a potluck dinner and games. Everyone can even dress up according to the theme.

Have a self-care day

Sometimes, just giving yourself permission to not do anything at all is the perfect vacation. It could be finally finishing that puzzle you started, reading a book, listening to your favorite podcast, or even catching up on sleep. Whatever you choose to do, make sure you tell yourself, "I am on vacation." And even though you’re at home, don’t do any chores. That cluttered closet can wait a few more days — just focus on relaxing.

These ideas can help you return to your daily routine feeling refreshed and productive. And for more self-care resources and tips, visit kp.org/selfcare.

1 Stacey Lastoe and Hilary I. Lebow, "5 Ways Travel is Good for Your Mental Health," Everyday Health, June 17, 2022.

2 Chun-Chu Chen and James F. Petrick, "Vacation Recovery Experiences on Life Satisfaction," Travel and Tourism Research Association: Advancing Tourism Research Globally, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2016.

3 Aaron S. Heller et al., "Association Between Real-World Experiential Diversity and Positive Affect Relates to Hippocampal-Striatal Functional Connectivity," Nature Neuroscience, July 23, 2020.