The Solopreneur’s Guide to a Fabulous Staycation

According to leading research company Gallup, more than 50% of Americans now plan summer “staycations”- that is, they vacation at home.

For many, it’s a great way to unwind without stressing their budgets or dealing with the hassles that come along with air travel or high gas prices. But a staycation can also be ripe with pitfalls.

Saying you’ll treat it like a “real” vacation and actually doing it are two very different things thanks to proximity… proximity to emails that beckon, proximity to organization projects that have been put on hold for far too long, and proximity to the guest bedroom you’ve been wanting to redecorate like the one you saw on HGTV.

But if you do just a little advance planning and put some smart strategies in place, your staycation can be one of the best vacations you’ve had in a long time.

Start by unplugging from work completely:

* Mark the staycation on your calendar just like you would a regular vacation. Do not plan ANY work-related tasks or appointments for that week. Period.

* Let all of your clients and other contacts that you do business with on a regular basis know you’ll be on vacation. We recommend NOT telling them it’s a staycation. If they ask where you’re going – which many people will – let them know that you’ve decided not to disclose the location until you return so that the paparazzi won’t know where to find you. smiley

* Put an “out of office” message on your email, and record an away message on your office voicemail. Do NOT give out your cell phone number “in case of an emergency.” Trust us. It’s amazing what some people think constitutes as an emergency these days!

* And if you’ll be staycationing with a significant other or a friend, work out a buddy system where you help each other stay in vacation mode. For example, if you’re “buddy” starts stressing about checking voicemails, remind him or her that they’re on vacation and then quickly distract them with a mojito.

The next key is to make sure you don’t unplug from work only to get sucked into a long list of chores around the house. Remember: the idea is to RELAX just like you would on a vacation away from home. The best way to do that is to plan out activities ahead of time that will keep you in a vacation state of mind.

Here are a few to consider:

* Go grocery shopping the last day before you start your staycation. Stock up on a ton of healthy meals and snacks, as well as a few special treats. (S’mores anyone?) You might also want to buy ingredients for a recipe or two you’ve always wanted to try, but simply haven’t had the time. And don’t forget to stop at the liquor store for a few bottles of wine… or a case of Corona. smiley

* Book spa treatments to pamper yourself from head to toe, including a body scrub, facial, manicure, pedicure, deep hair conditioning and, most importantly, a massage. You may also want to find a spa with complimentary extras. My favorite one here in Baltimore has a Tuscan room with a warm jetted pool, a eucalyptus steam room and sauna – all complimentary.

* Plan recreational activities, like scheduling a few tee times or reserving a racquetball court. Or, if you’re feeling more adventurous, make an appointment for rock climbing, kayaking or even trapeze lessons – the latter of which are cropping up all around the country.

* Select at least one non-related business book to read during the week. If you need some ideas, Oprah’s book club always has great suggestions.

* Make reservations for a night or two out at a favorite restaurant or one you’ve been meaning to try. Or consider signing up for cooking lessons at a local culinary school.

* Load up your iPod with beach-worthy tunes, like Cheeseburger in Paradise, Boys of Summer, Summertime Blues, Surfin’ USA, Vacation, Kokomo, Centerfield, and Born to Run (among many others).

* Do all the things tourists do when they visit your town. Go to museums. Buy tickets to see a show. Take an open-air bus tour. Check out a local concert.

What about you? Are you planning a “real” vacation this year, or will you be staycationing? What are your strategies to ensure you have a fun and relaxing time? Let us know!

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