What Is a Staycation?

A staycation is a play on the word "vacation" and means spending time off in or near your own home, rather than traveling to another location. People take staycations for many reasons, including but not limited to saving money, avoiding travel, and taking advantage of what is available in their town or city. The meaning of a staycation depends on the individual and how they view a staycation. For some, it is a camp-out in the backyard. For others, an in-state road trip a few hours from home.

Key Takeaways

  • A "staycation" can mean time spent on holiday in your home, town, or other locations within your state.
  • There are many reasons people chose to have a staycation versus a vacation, but the big one is affordability.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has left many individuals and families without travel options except for staycations.
  • A staycation means different things to different people.
  • A lack of vacation days and paid leave, plus the inability to take time off a job are some of the reasons why Americans take less time off than Europeans.

Understanding Staycations

In 2018, over 50% of Americans reported that they had taken a “staycation” at some point, according to polling done for a YouGov.com report. While staycations remained popular in 2019, they became nearly required in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The word "staycation" may have been coined as far back as 1944, when it was first used by a writer for the Cincinnati Enquirer. However, the word became more common in the mid-2000s, and 2021 is part of modern-day American vernacular.

Staycations vs. Vacations

As fuel costs increase, travel to distant locales becomes increasingly more expensive. These higher travel costs are one reason that some people choose to staycation rather than vacation.

It isn't just fueled costs that make people not want to travel. Vacations cost money, and many Americans do not have enough savings to afford a summer holiday. According to the U.S. Federal Reserve's research, nearly half of Americans do not have $400 cash available in an emergency fund. Those who do have the money to travel may not have enough vacation days to use or worry about their jobs if they take paid leave.

Imagination plus planning to do things outside of regular day-to-day routines are the building blocks of a successful staycation.

Vacations take time-off and money, two things that not all families or even individuals always have available. Instead, a family may find that setting up a tent in the backyard or booking one night at a local hotel could satisfy the need for a change of venue during a holiday.

Another economical solution would be to take local day trips to your nearest city, national park, seashore, or vineyard, depending on what is available where you live. A staycation might include day trips to surrounding recreational or cultural sites, or it might be solely devoted to some much-need local fun in your hometown. When you have children and money is tight, a staycation could include a PJ-day and movie day inside or a backyard cookout.

Special Considerations

In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic made vacations for most people a highly risky proposition, not to mention many states and countries restricted or even denied access to anyone wanting to travel. One year later, in March 2021, restrictions, especially abroad, remained in place for travelers.

While more Americans are optimistic about holiday travel, there is still hesitation both due to the ongoing pandemic and the economic toll on millions of Americans during the height of pandemic shutdowns. Because of these factors and others, staycations at home or in nearby towns and cities are sure to continue in popularity well into the summer of 2021.