According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the word “staycation” is defined as “a vacation spent at home or nearby.” In Canada, we’re incredibly fortunate because our “nearby” is pretty epic. With an abundance of wide open spaces beneath our feet, our backyard lends itself well to staycationing in the enormity and beauty of nature.

With big spaces and fewer faces in mind, we’ve assembled eight ideas for ultra-chill, close-to-home staycations sure to infuse some warmth into this winter’s cool.      

Travelling outside of our local jurisdictions is tricky right now, so let’s staycation-smart and dream big. Please check provincial and federal guidance as travel protocols continue to evolve. Find out what to expect and how to find flexible travel on the Expedia COVID-19 travel guide.

The outdoorsy day-trip

Skiing at a local mountain

Escaping into the quietness of the outdoors can do wonders for our mental health, outlook, and overall wellness. With oceans, lakes, farmland, or mountains at our collective Canadian doorstep, determine what’s nearby and take an inventory of your gear. Whether there’s a ski piste, snowshoeing trail, hiking path, tobogganing hill, skating pond, or ocean to enjoy a stand-up paddle, the outdoorsy options here, above the 49th parallel, are brimming. If we allow ourselves to see the can-do possibilities around us, and head out on a close-to-home day-trip, the mind-shift that happens once we come back is palpable—it’s as if we’ve taken a trip.

The backyard bon voyage

Private hot tub

If you’re longing for a bon voyage moment in your own backyard, check what’s available in your vicinity for cozy cabins, beach houses, lakeside cottages rentals, or hotel room bookings. Sometimes just a change of scenery, amenities, and routine can re-invigorate us in a way we never expected or imagined.

For rentals, dive deep into the filters to find options with extras such as personal hot tubs, gourmet kitchens, views, or proximity to a lake, beach, or ski hill. For hotels, take the same filtering strategy to determine what’s right for your style of travel. Also know that several protocols are in place from obligatory mask-wearing, to extra sanitizing, to heightened room cleaning, to elevator distancing, to temperature checks, and pool and hot tub sign-up slots to ensure the safest-possible scenario.

The work-from-here staycation

Work hard, play healthy

Understanding the change that has taken place in where we work, as well as the remote work policy extensions companies are continuing well into 2021, Expedia has launched a “Work From Here (WFH)” initiative to mix up your location beyond your desk, couch, and ever-changing Zoom background.

After all, who said we have to choose between work and play, anyway? Enter the workcation: part work, part play, all change of pace. According to Expedia’s recent research, a blended workcation helps to increase productivity and promote a happier work/life balance.

Whether you love simple mountain cabins or posh hotel suites, the building blocks for a successful WFH-cation are the same. First, find a nearby stay with fast and reliable Wi-Fi. Second, seek a quiet space to aid with focus. Third, search for lodgings with views for inspiration. Fourth, book a locale with nature nearby to achieve the sweet spot in distanced work/life balance.

The round-the-world take-out challenge

Moroccan take-out

One tried-and-true method of experiencing another place is through its food, so why not put together a round-the-world take-out calendar. Here’s how it works: make a list of your favourite foreign foods, slot a different country’s dish into your calendar once a week (or more often, if that’s how you roll), then gift yourself something tasty to look forward to.

Amp it up a notch by asking Alexa or Siri to play tunes from the country, or by pairing your cuisine with a complimentary wine or cocktail. Even dress up for the occasion (your nice clothes called: they want to be worn again!).

It’s a win-win. You and your tastebuds experience a moment of exotic escape, and your wallet supports a local businesses at the same time.

The resort-style wake-up

Resort breakfast with jugo verde

Bring your top hotel experience home by creating a resort-style wake-up. Because is there anything better than a relaxed morning with breakfast in bed? To achieve this think of the top hotel wake-ups you’ve experienced around the world. What stood out? What can you do to recreate this with food, mood, lighting, texture, and music?

For example, some of my top resort wake-ups have been the hot chocolate and shortbread rise-and-shine in the Masai Mara (there are no alarm clocks, so this is what arrives at your tent to awaken you); the cappuccino and prosecco-a-plenty wake-up in Ischia, Italy complete with burrata cheese, local tomatoes, and fresh bread; or the jugo verde (a healthy green juice with a hint of sweetness) up and at ’em in Mexico.

The At-Home Beach

Lounge chairs beside a picture window = winter warmth

My in-laws are expert winter escape artists. Having grown up in one of the more frigid Canadian provinces, they determined early in their marriage they like sun more than snow. With this discovery, they got very skilled at booking trips to Mexico, Florida, California, and the Caribbean when Canadian winter temperatures dip well, well below zero.

When they’d return from a trip—desperately missing the warmth—they did something I’ll never forget. They waited for a sunny day, donned their bathing suits, cracked open a door, and set-up their lounge chairs inside fronting a big window to luxuriate in the slice of paradise they’d just created. It was their way of keeping the vacation sensation alive and well between trips.

If you’re like them—keen for a dose of Vitamin D—why not try the same bring-the-beach-home technique. Throw on some music, make yourself a bev, turn the heat up, set up a lounge chair in a sunny indoor spot, and voila, it’s like you’re on a sandy swath of beach in the Dominican Republic.

The self-care spa

With self-care being top-of-mind right now, a spa-themed staycation is a soothing option for those who find solace through pampering.

If you live in a postal code that allows spa visits, plan ahead and book a series of your favourite treatments in 2021—think RMT, facials, massage, mani/pedi, scrubs—so you start the New Year off on a therapeutic note. Also, don’t forget to look into outdoor spas, or local spa getaways with distancing practices in place to make it a day of indulgence.

On the home front, while most of us don’t have medical-grade potions for fancy facials or high-end massage chairs for mani-pedis, we can do mini-sessions ourselves in the comfort of our own space. Some of my treasured home spa tricks are candlelit, epsom-salt detoxifying baths; regular face masks to brighten my skin (and spirits), requesting (read: begging) my partner give me a back massage with a lavender essential oil, and hanging a branch of eucalyptus in my shower so my bathroom is always in spa-mode.

The staycation box

Staycation box

Finally, for those of you wishing you could sip Kona coffee in Hawaii, nosh on Camembert cheese in France, or enjoy guac and chips on the beach in Mexico, look no further than Staycation Boxes, a British Columbia-based company offering destination-specific foodie boxes to those who are chomping at the bit to take a big trip soon!

In addition to locally-sourced food, accessories, and beverages, each box comes with tasting notes, music suggestions, and tips for how to best experience your country’s box. Plus, each box sold supports local food banks across Canada!

What are your go-to staycation ideas for winter 2020/2021?

All photos by Trip Styler.