How to Plan Your Staycation

staycation

I love a good staycation. The truth is that I don’t like traveling all that much. It’s important to me to travel now and then – either to see my family or to experience new things. Nevertheless, I find travel stressful. I don’t find it relaxing. I’m one of those people who come home from a vacation feeling like I need a vacation. That’s why I always try to wrap up any trip with a few staycation days before I return to my regular life.

What is a Staycation?

A staycation is exactly what it sounds like – a completely relaxing, rejuvenating, energizing vacation that you take in your own home. You might take a staycation because you need a break but don’t really enjoy traveling. Or perhaps your travel options are limited due to cost or other limitation. Whatever the reason, a staycation gives you the benefits of a vacation without having to leave your own home or hometown.

Figure Out Where You Will Stay

I love my home. I’m always happy to take my staycation right in my own home. I save money. I enjoy the peace of my own place. All of my craft supplies and books are right there with me. I don’t have to pack a thing.

That said, it’s also possible to take a staycation in someone else’s home. This gives you the chance to enjoy your own city in a new way. Some options for that type of staycation include:

  • Petsitting or housesitting for someone in your city who is going on vacation
  • Swapping houses with a friend who lives in a different neighborhood
  • Renting an AirBnB, possibly even in a shared house to get to know someone new
  • Staying in a local hotel or even hostel to get that vacation experience
  • Camping in your own backyard

Plan Your Staycation Itinerary

When you go on vacation, you probably have a plan for what you would like to do each day. You should plan similarly for your staycation. If you’re the type of traveler who likes to book just one or two things and leave the rest of the day open, then do the same with your staycation. On the other hand, if you love taking tours and seeing all of the sights, then use your staycation as a chance to stay busy learning new things about the place where you live.

When I plan my staycation, it typically involves a combination of structured time and free time. I might make a list of things I want to visit (museums, theaters, walking tours, and art galleries are my favorites). I also brainstorm a list of things I want to enjoy at home (books, art projects, lounging with the dog). Personally I find it helpful to make these lists to remind myself of what I want to do so I don’t get stuck in the habit of doing chores and errands. This is a vacation after all.

Make A List of Rules

In keeping with that vacation mode, I also make myself a list of rules to remind myself of the things that I don’t want to do on my staycation. My list usually includes:

  • Don’t overbook myself.
  • It’s okay to watch TV but not all day.
  • Set an email vacation responder and don’t ever check email.
  • Likewise, stay off of social media.
  • Do all chores before the staycation and none while I’m on my break.
  • Try at least one new thing each day.

Everyone’s needs are different therefore everyone’s staycation will be unique. As long as you think it through, it can be one of the best vacations you’ll ever take.

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Van Life: How Much Does It Really Cost?

Van Life

Van Life

Van life seems to be trending in recent years, and it’s a trend that very much interests me. There have been many times my boyfriend and I have contemplated living this lifestyle for a short period of our lives. It seems like a great way to explore the country and reconnect with what is important in life.

So, this week, I decided to do a little research about what it would take to take part in van life. On paper, it looks marvelous and care-free. But, is it really as great as it sounds? Let’s find out.

First of all, there are several sites dedicated entirely to van life, like this one. Turns out, van life is not such a new thing after all. Granted, the one mentioned is mostly just awe-inspiring photos of this lifestyle, but still dreamy nonetheless. What this movement celebrates, though, is home is not a location but a feeling…an experience. That is definitely something I can live with.

Sunsets like you’ve never seen, adventures, a simpler way of life, and stories that develop along the way…these aspects of this way of life all sound so appealing. But, what does it really take to live on the road and how much does it really cost you?

Before you start

Before even considering something like this, there will be initial expenses of course.  Along with purchasing a van, you will most likely need to do some renovations to it in order to make it a suitable living space. This couple featured in Outside Magazine was able to renovate a cargo van they found on Craigslist simply by following a helpful online account. Spirit Van Life provides very specific details to followers on how to get turn your van into your home on the road.

While you can do the updates yourself to save costs, there are many details to know and keep in mind as you build your home on the road. In the minimal square feet, you will need to decide will this be used for long-term trips (a month or more at a time) or just shorter excursions. This will determine how much wattage you’ll need for electricity or if solar power is feasible for you (Solar Panels are roughly $450 a piece and a generator is around $400-$2,000, depending on how much solar power you want to use). Costs for updates can be $2,000 to $3,000 in repairs and supplies, depending on how customized you want to go. There are cargo vans available with most of the conversion already done for you available on sites like Craigslist, but you may end up paying more for the vehicle. These used vehicles seem to run, on average, anywhere from $1,600 to $10,000.

You could make the starting costs fit into a specified budget you create for such a venture; however, be realistic. You could luck out and spend $5,000 to $7,000 on the lower end and $10,000 to $12,000 on the higher end. To see if it is worth doing, see how much you would be saving versus renting an apartment each month with all bills included.

Another thing to think about before you begin is do you want a recreational vehicle or the van? With an RV, you likely have the luxury of a shower and toilet, but you have to pay to stay in RV parks while you have more flexibility with parking a van in public.

For the electrical work of your van, it may be worth hiring someone to do this to ensure it is done correctly. Again, you need to choose your source of power supply and know how much you’ll need for your adjusted lifestyle on the road. For instance, if you are a digital nomad, you may need a lot of electricity considering the amount of time you may spend on your computer. Because it will be for a much smaller space than your typical home, you may only have to pay a few hundred dollars for such work. Just do your price checking and align with your budget as best as possible.

Reaching out to friends with construction knowledge may be a great start for you and your new “home.”

On-going costs

With the vehicle logistics primarily out of the way, it’s time to weigh out the regular on-going costs of van life. Here is an idea of what to expect based on my research:

  • Fuel: How often you plan on driving around along with the weight of your van both obviously play key parts in your gas mileage. I would expect to get less than 20 miles to the gallon. If you plan on being flexible on your travels, you can map out your gas and fill up in areas where gas is cheapest. If you plan on driving up to 1,000 miles per month you may be spending $200 or more in fuel alone.
  • Food. Don’t overdo it with your food. One thing people seemed to mention consistently was how food can go quicker in vans, especially in hot weather conditions. Van lifers, as I’ll call them, suggest not buying more than you can realistically consume in a decent amount of time. Limit your restaurant eating to help save your budget and look for farmer’s markets instead. Plan your meals out to avoid food being wasted. Because you aren’t buying as many groceries, you should expect to spend less in a month on the road than you would living in a house or apartment. But, depending on the quality and type of food you purchase (organic, non-GMO, etc.), you may be looking at close to $120 per week in groceries. This amount can definitely be reduced though.
  • Parking. Depending on where you are in the country, you may have some great opportunities for parking by a view. Highway 101 rest stops in the West Coast have several beautiful stops along with cleaner restroom facilities. A Walmart parking lot is always a good go-to from 10 p.m. on. Chances are, you’ll also run into quite a few other van-lifers. Lastly, another common option would be camping sites as they are available. There are some really affordable camping options out there, and we bet they will still be cheaper than staying in a hotel.
  • Gym memberships. Say what? Yes. It appears that some of the folk in van life purchase corporate gym memberships so that they have access to a shower while on the road. Not a bad idea considering a membership at Planet Fitness is $10 per month. Plus, it is a nice way to maintain activity if you aren’t very active on the road (my guess is, you still are). But, another option for hygiene are truck stops that may offer showers at a fee as low as $10. Plan on taking limited showers while on the road.
  • Internet services. While some people get by with free WiFi in public places while traveling, that may not be a realistic option for writers like me with regular deadlines. You could use your cell phone as a hot spot or look into 4G internet services.

One thing to keep in mind for van life, other than the initial costs and keeping aside money for any unexpected expenses, is the fact that some cities do not legally permit you to park on the street if you are living in your van. In those areas, it will be best to stay at a campsite. Luckily, the Bureau of Land Management offers free camping on public land as it is available.

There can surprisingly be a lot of costs that go into van life, but planning ahead will help to prepare you financially as much as possible. You don’t need to buy and fix up a van all at once; spread it out over the course of the year and take a little time researching and planning this new life.

Is this something you’ve been wanting to do or have done? If so, what would you add to the list? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Traveling Jobs for People Who Love to Travel

traveling jobs

Vacation is a great time to travel, but sometimes, it is not enough to satisfy us. If you have a serious taste for exploring new areas but not enough funds to do it regularly, there is a solution for you.

Traveling jobs are a great way to feed your itchy feet. Not to mention, the best part about traveling jobs are there are many opportunities and options.

Whether you are needing to spice up your life or want to change your career all together, here are some traveling jobs worth checking out for people who love to travel:

Teacher/Nanny

Love kids, and you’re bilingual? Why not become an Au Pair or teacher in a different country? With a college degree and a TEFL certificate (Teaching English in a Foreign Language), you can teach English in a variety of locations. There are TEFL course programs you can even do abroad to give you a taste of what to expect while also introducing you to a new country.

And with technology making degrees easier to access online, you’ll be able to earn your degree while travelling, like earning a master of education in Australia while completely immersing yourself in the country’s culture.

You could also go the route of becoming a translator; should you choose to freelance or work at a company, you have the opportunity to charge per word.

Digital Nomad

This term was coined for those who work remotely. If you have an online business, you can work your way up to be able to work from wherever. Work as a digital nomad can be but is not limited to: freelance writing, social media management or affiliate marketing.

Athletic Recruiter

Sports enthusiasts will most likely find much enjoyment from a job as an athletic recruiter. Not only do you get to travel to schools across the country, you also get to attend sporting events as part of your responsibilities. Not a bad gig for sports fans, huh?

Auditor

If you are an accountant needing some excitement, becoming an auditor may be an excellent option for you. Auditors may not usually go to exotic locations, but they do travel across the country examining businesses.

Tour Guide

Being a tour guide, particularly internationally, is an excellent way to travel for work. If relocating to a different country to work as a tour guide, you should learn the language or choose a country where you already know the speech.

Bartender

For those with an open schedule and some nightlife experience, bars and clubs worldwide are always seeking bartenders, especially for the more touristy locations. Whether you want to go overseas or simply across the country, there are a variety of options as a bartender to travel to a new location for a while.

With the right skills, you can make traveling a part of your job requirements. It’s important to note that not all traveling jobs will pay well, and these professions still involve work and dedication. Depending on how much you want to make traveling a part of your career will depend on how much behind the scenes you will need to do.

Do you travel for a living? What kind of traveling jobs have you done or would like to do?