How to Plan a Winter Staycation

By Amanda Wowk

December 21, 2020

This year, we’ve all mastered the art of being flexible: working from anywhere; attending birthday celebrations, baby showers—and everything in between—via Zoom; and even camping in our own backyards. Now, winter is upon us and our skills are being tested once again.

If you’re pressing pause on your winter travel plans—but still plan to take a much-deserved break—think of staying local as another opportunity to get creative. And while a winter staycation might not include skiing the slopes or soaking in the sun, there are lots of ways to feel like you’re on vacation, even if you’re staying (closer to) home. 

Here are seven tips for planning a winter staycation. 

Opt outside during your winter staycation

Gather your cold weather gear and try a new (or revisit a favorite) winter sport during your winter staycation. Snowshoeing, ice skating, cross-country skiing, fat tire biking on snowy trails—the list goes on. No matter what mode of exercise you choose, get outside and leave the screens behind. Bundle up and explore a part of your neighborhood you never even knew existed. Doing so will help improve your mood, release endorphins, and break a sweat—a boost for your mind and your body.

Create a cozy backyard oasis

Take a nod from cities that embrace winter and create a space to enjoy nature and safely socialize outdoors year-round. You might even have everything you’d need to create a cozy backyard oasis, such as: 

  • A fire pit and firewood or a propane heater (for external warmth)
  • Blankets, pillows, chairs, and/or cushions (for comfort)
  • Hot foods (for internal warmth) 
  • Hot drinks (and thermoses to keep them that way)
  • String lights (for ambiance)

Tip: The key to staying warm outdoors is breaking the wind (that’s why those parklets you see restaurants constructing are so good at simulating coziness). Try to keep this in mind as you select a spot for your oasis and see if you can create a wall or barrier. 

Support local businesses

Local businesses naturally see fewer customers in the less-trafficked winter months. Paired with the ongoing pandemic, the upcoming months are looking even tougher for your local favorites. When possible, consider shopping for your staycation essentials as close to home as possible, even if it’s a little less convenient. 

Need a night off from cooking during your winter staycation? Many restaurants not only offer delivery or curbside pick-up, some have also pivoted as bottle shops, meaning you can purchase a bottle of wine to complement your takeaway meal and enjoy at home. 

Great vacations yield great souvenirs (my personal favorite? A bottle of wine from a local vineyard, of course!); there’s no reason a staycation can’t yield the same. Treat yourself to a staycation souvenir—and support local businesses in the process. 

Here are some ideas:

  • A book from your local indie bookstore
  • A candle from a local artisan
  • Chocolates from a local sweets shop
  • Jams or jellies from your local farmers market
  • Postcards from a local paper store or letterpress shop

Get lost in literature

Speaking of bookstores, reading is one of the best forms of escapism; second only to travel itself. If you received a book over the holidays, a winter staycation presents the perfect time to start reading. Or, head to your local independent bookstore and pick up a tale based in your favorite destination. 

Read more: 15 Books to Satisfy Your Wanderlust Right Now

Answer your culinary calling

So, you picked up a cookbook at the bookstore. A winter staycation affords you the time to get creative in the comfort of your own kitchen. Use this time to revisit a dish you discovered while traveling or let your cravings do the deciding as you peruse your new cookbook. 

More culinary inspo: Eat Your Way Around the World with These 10 Dishes 

Book a winter staycation experience 

Digital experiences have increased our access to people and places that would otherwise require boarding a plane—and with new experiences cropping up all the time, there are plenty of ways to explore the world during your winter staycation. 

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Craft travel-inspired cocktails

Since you’re staying local, why not try your hand at mixing your favorite travel-inspired cocktails at home? First, pick your destination. Then, get creative with the cocktail you mix up. Scotland, for example, is known for its whisky; start simple with a hot toddy. Or, conjure memories of your trip to Germany with homemade Glühwein. Open a fruity red wine from Germany, add cinnamon sticks, cloves, an orange slice, and some sugar or honey. Heat, serve, and then relax in your backyard oasis. 

Turns out, you can enjoy après-ski, après tout.