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Summer isn’t canceled. If we’ve learned anything about life from the past few months of staying in, it’s that we can adapt to new ways of working, playing, parenting and now … vacationing! If you've been self-isolating, take the chance to break free from your quar-routine, and don’t let being mostly housebound get you down.
From our remote working spaces across the U.S., NerdWallet's content team came together to compile this list of ideas for how you can spend your staycation. Some of these may be similar to activities you already do on a day-to-day basis while you’re staying at home, but we recommend using these as inspiration for a loosely planned "vacation" from your normal routine. Set aside a day (or several) on the calendar, make an itinerary, gather the materials and then spend your staycation having new experiences and making new memories.
Arts & Media
1. Watch musicals and plays for free
The theaters may be dark, but theater fans can get access to a wide array of filmed performances. Shakespeare’s Globe, a replica of the Bard’s famous theater in London, has released some performances on their YouTube channel.
If you time your free trials right, you can also see major productions without spending the big bucks on Broadway. Fans of the smash hit "Hamilton" can stream the musical on Disney+ starting July 3. Another option is the BroadwayHD streaming service, which has a catalog of hundreds of plays and musicals.
2. Binge on art
Wander through 160 art galleries … from your phone? Art fairs may be out of commission this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still see the works. Art collectors and casual aficionados alike can browse — and buy — to their hearts' delight at virtual art fairs from around the globe.
3. Become an opera fan
If you’ve never been to the opera (maybe tickets were too expensive or you weren’t sure if you’d fit in), now’s your chance to experience some of the best in the repertoire from the comfort of home. Many companies around the world are streaming free opera performances and other related content, including behind-the-scenes interviews and lectures about the shows — no evening gowns required.
4. Binge a show or have a movie marathon
Did you used to feel guilty when you’d spend an entire weekend binge-watching a show? Now most of us are finding ourselves spending a lot more time indoors than ever before. So why not make a list of all the movies and shows you’ve been wanting to watch? If you like comedies, "Schitt's Creek" on Netflix is a great choice. Period drama fans can immerse themselves in "The Crown" on Netflix for an interesting look at Queen Elizabeth’s life. Reality TV fans can binge-watch "The Bachelor: Listen to Your Heart" on ABC. Finally, if you’re a nature lover, "Blue Planet" on Netflix covers a lot of fascinating marine topics.
5. Rock out, but inside
While summer concert season won’t be the same, you can still catch many of your favorite bands performing in new ways. Check out livestreams, previously unreleased footage and even old relic shows from all kinds of musical acts. Pick up an outdoor projector and watch (and dance!) from your backyard for a true concert experience.
6. Tap into your inner artist
Even if your artistic abilities stop at drawing stick figures, there’s always room to learn something new. Order some pads, pencils and paints and channel your inner Van Gogh. Check out tons of art tutorials online and have fun being creative.
7. Bring art to life
Find your favorite art scene or portrait, scour your house for props and re-create the image as closely as possible while snapping pics on your phone. Create a side-by-side comparison of the original and your modern version, and expect hilarity to ensue.
8. Become a cartoonist
Learn the basics of the timeless art of cartooning from online courses or tutorials. Impress your kids with your Disney renditions, or share your point of view with adults through your own political cartoons.
9. Write a children’s book
Let your imagination run wild and channel your inner child in a welcome respite from adult realities. Take a stab at developing your characters and plot by yourself, or incorporate some ideas crowdsourced from your kids, family or friends.
10. Tune in and tune out
Remember the days of lying on your bedroom floor and listening to an entire album from start to finish? In today’s world of streaming music on-demand, the concept of committing to a whole album has been lost. Pick an album or three, ditch the phone (and the distractions) and just listen. Take a trip down musical memory lane, or give something new-to-you a whirl.
11. Learn to edit videos
Whether you’re starting as a newbie with free software like iMovie or looking to advance your skills with higher-end software like Adobe Premiere Pro, now is a great time to beef up your video editing capabilities. Whether you want to create sizzle reels from your recent vacations, help out with your kid's sports team highlight video or bring video production into your job, being able to swiftly edit videos on a computer can be a very useful skill.
12. Write and record a song
Dance like nobody’s watching, and sing like a few random people will hear it on YouTube. Write your own song to a familiar tune, or start from scratch if you’re ambitious, then hit record. Don’t fuss over being perfect — treat it like karaoke and focus on having fun.
Learning & Self-Development
13. Join an online reading challenge
Want to read the complete works of Shakespeare in one year? Check out this Facebook group. Want to blast through some cheesy fantasy or romance novels? You can find a group online for almost any reading challenge or goal and receive moral support from other readers along the way.
14. Learn tai chi or yoga
Both of these ancient exercise practices are ideal under the current circumstances for two reasons:
They can be done at home with minimal equipment or expertise.
They relieve stress and improve emotional equanimity.
YouTube is your friend here, with plenty of beginner classes and challenges for both yoga and tai chi.
15. Learn a new skill online
Is there a skill you’ve been wanting to learn but haven’t had the time or money? There are plenty of free resources available at the moment. Online course platform Udemy is offering a lot of free classes now. YouTube is also great for learning new skills like yoga poses (or TikTok dances).
16. Learn a new productivity skill
Having a hard time focusing on the task at hand during quarantine? You’re not alone. Staying productive in these times is a major challenge, and one you might not be able to fix with “willpower” or “pushing through.”
Productivity skills range from time management techniques like the Pomodoro method, which builds short breaks into the workday, to mindfulness and emotional resilience training.
17. Reconnect with an old hobby — or learn a new one
If you have an old hobby that you’ve stopped pursuing, why not use this time to pick it back up again? Some fun hobbies to get back into can include sewing, knitting, painting, creative writing, baking, brushing up on a foreign language on Duolingo, gardening and so much more.
Now is also a great time to get into a new hobby that you could practice indoors. Watercolor painting, yoga, meditation, reading and learning a new language are great hobbies to keep you entertained.
18. Sign up with MasterClass and binge away
Want to learn from some of the world's experts? MasterClass is a streaming platform that allows anyone to watch video lessons taught by individuals who are leaders in their respective fields. The company offers annual subscriptions along with a 30-day guarantee. So if you don’t find anything you’re interested in, you can get a full refund by emailing customer service within 30 days of subscribing.
19. Become an armchair expert
Identify three to five subjects unrelated to work that you’re curious about. This could be anything: art history, a certain country or culture, an area of science, etc. Then, create a loose plan for diving into these topics. You could find e-books to buy or borrow from the library, watch videos on YouTube, listen to podcasts or audiobooks or join online groups. By the end of your staycation, you could become an armchair expert in a new topic you love.
20. Learn an instrument
Now can be a great time to pick up a new instrument or get better at playing one you already have. See if any music stores are running promotions that would allow you to buy an instrument on sale.
21. Create a to-do list of ONLY fun things
To-do lists are usually full of errands and other things that don't scream fun. But why not make a to-do list of ONLY fun things? Whether that's an at-home mani-pedi, bubble bath, yoga practice or reading a new book, write it down on your list. Then spend an entire day completing tasks on your new fun to-do list.
22. Borrow e-books or audiobooks from your public library
Many libraries have expedited the process for getting a digital library card. Libraries have a lot of great e-books and audiobooks available, including bestsellers and new releases. Borrowing books is a great way to save money while still reading about the topics you love. Policies differ from library to library, but usually involve a limit on how many books you can have at any given time and sometimes a waiting list for popular titles.
23. Take a college class
Learning something new is one sure way to enrich yourself, and many colleges offer free online courses. Yale’s hugely popular happiness class called “The Science of Well-Being” is available to audit at no charge on Coursera. Top schools from MIT to Harvard offer free online courses as well.
24. Check out professional development opportunities
In shaky economic times, you’ll want to make sure your job skills are up to date to ensure you can keep the job you have or be ready to switch if the opportunity arises. Many conferences are moving their events online, so travel and lodging costs are no longer a barrier to entry. See if any professional organizations are hosting virtual panels or training sessions, or check out online certification courses that may be offered at a discount.
25. Be a tourist in your own town
The quintessential notion of a staycation is to take a vacation in your local city. Grab a guidebook, stroll the landmarks and pick a restaurant you've never tried before (for sit-down or takeout). Many apps like Tripscout and GeoTourist offer audio walking tours that you can download to guide you through your city. Learn some historical fun facts and see your own town through a fresh lens.
26. Plan your next vacation
Part of the fun of a trip is the anticipation leading up to it. Create that spark of excitement by researching where you’ll stay and what you’ll do on a future trip. Make an itinerary, scour Yelp for the best restaurants (and drool over the menu), and find the off-the-beaten path spots you’ll explore.
27. Travel vicariously
As the whole world takes a pause from travel, consider exploring virtually by visiting some fun destinations and museums. For example, you can take a virtual tour of the Netherlands’ best museums and explore art online. If visiting new countries is more your style, head over to YouTube, then type in “virtual tour” and the name of the country you’d like to see. There are so many places to (virtually) check out.
28. Relive your best trips
Grab your photo albums (or even your old projectors) and get ready for a fun trip down memory lane. Go slowly through the photos and souvenirs from some of your favorite trips. Thumb back through your guidebooks and recall the museums you visited, the foods you ate and the adventures you had. If it’s been many years since you visited the city, check out Google Earth to see how much the landscape has changed or whether your favorite restaurant still exists.
29. Explore an airplane
Miss being in the sky? If so, you can do a video tour of some of your favorite airlines. The Airbus 380 allows you to virtually visit the cabins of Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Qantas and Etihad. Each airline offers a different experience, so check them all out for some wanderlust inspiration.
Kids & Family
30. Teach your kids things they won’t learn in school
Involve your kids in tonight’s recipe prep, show them how to do laundry or even teach them how to change a tire. Even small kids can learn how to do basic tasks at home that will serve them well for years to come.
31. Bring the circus
If you can’t bring your kids to entertainment out in the world, bring the excitement home instead. If you can’t go see the circus, reimagine your gray blanket to be an elephant, hang dancing cut-out clowns from the clothesline, drink lemonade and eat fluffy orange circus peanuts. It doesn't have to be the circus: Pick a theme, get creative and give your kids a day to remember.
32. Create a scavenger hunt
Whether you leave simple clues around your house or launch a full-scale quest around your city, a scavenger hunt can be a great distraction for young and old. Check out a variety of apps and websites that can help you craft your hunt for kids, families and adults alike.
33. Create a custom photo book to share with loved ones
Love scrapbooking or photography? Consider making a photo album with all your favorite photos. Whether it's an album of a favorite trip or a memorable birthday party, whatever you create will definitely put a smile on the faces of the ones you love.
34. Make a scrapbook or put all of your family photos in albums
Whether you have a ton of family photos lying around or most of your pics are digital, consider making a family photo album. For existing photos, order a photo album online and start filling it with photos. You can make this a family activity by having your kids write their memories of when certain photos were taken. If all your photos are stored in the cloud, use sites like Snapfish or Shutterfly to create an album from your digital pics and have the album shipped to you.
35. Make handmade greeting cards for loved ones and express your appreciation
The best gifts are those that come from the heart. Consider making some handmade cards for your friends and family. In the cards, write your favorite memories, why you value the person in your life and thanks for how they’ve helped you. This is also a fun activity to do with your kids.
36. Record your kids reading books (or you reading to them)
Reading to your kids is one of the best ways to increase their language skills, and any parent will tell you that watching your kids learn to read (or memorize their favorite books) is an amazing developmental milestone. While you have plenty of family time, make recordings of these moments for posterity. Extended family will love seeing your little ones grow up, and a recording of you reading one of your kiddo’s favorite books could be a real tear-jerker 10 years from now.
37. Interview your older loved ones
You know who may have plenty of time on their hands right now? Old folks. Capture their life stories or memories (in writing, in audio or on video) for sharing with your family, friends or children. Don’t worry about making the stories perfect or even polished — just getting these stories recorded can be a huge gift to future generations.
If you have kids, you can involve them by having them ask questions, take notes or draw pictures.
38. Connect with long-distance family and friends
Make a list of all of those people you meant to visit in the past few years and take some time to schedule virtual catch-ups with them. You could do a video chat, phone call or even send them some snail mail. It’ll bring everyone involved a little bit of joy.
39. Connect with friends who’ve fallen off your radar
Once you’ve connected with long-distance friends you haven’t visited lately, move on to long-ago friendships you haven't maintained. Maybe it was the best man at your wedding or a bridesmaid you lost touch with. Remember that one friend from that one thing a long time ago? Find them on social media and set up a time to reconnect. Bonus points if you can line up multiple sessions a day to really make your staycation feel special as you catch up with those you’ve lost touch with.
40. Involve the family in a home improvement project
If you have home improvement projects you’ve been putting off, consider whether any are good candidates for DIY-ing with the family. Depending on their ages, your kids may enjoy helping remove wallpaper, painting a room, building some raised planters or rearranging the furniture. You could even get them involved in the design process, choosing colors and accessories if you need to redecorate a space.
41. Invent a family game
Create your own board game or card game, and let the kids make the rules. More ambitious? Host a family tournament that incorporates your kids’ favorite outside games or other activities. Who can make the funniest sidewalk chalk drawing, decorate the best sugar cookie or throw a football the farthest? You never know whose talents may surprise you.
42. Create a chalk obstacle course
If you have a driveway or sidewalk and some chalk, you’ve got the makings of an epic 2D obstacle course. Sure, you can include hopscotch — but you can also include twisty arrows, circles to stop in and complete an activity (like jumping jacks) or a straight-line “balance beam.” Involve the kids in making courses for each other for some mental and physical stimulation.
Crafts & DIY
43. Get artistic with apps
There are amazing coloring book apps out there. Not only is this activity fun and relaxing, but you get to see your own creation when you’re done coloring a piece. Apps such as Colorfy, Paint.ly and Happy Color are always adding new pieces to color, so you never have to worry about running out of art.
44. Sew your own creative face mask
A lot of public places now require people to wear face masks. If you can't find masks online or are looking for something that's one of a kind, consider creating your own mask. Use Etsy or Pinterest for mask ideas or check out YouTube for a tutorial.
45. Paint rocks for others to find as a gesture of kindness
Why is this a thing? According to those familiar with the concept, painting rocks and hiding them in a place where someone will find them is bound to put a smile on that person’s face. Whether you paint them in colors or write inspiring quotes on them, painting rocks is a fun and creative way to do something good for others.
46. Tackle an organization project
If you live in a house, consider an organization project for an entire room or your garage. Those who live in an apartment can especially benefit from an organization project; when living in a small space, it's so easy to stuff things in a closet to get them out of sight. Why not use this time to clean out a closet or your desk drawers to free up some space?
47. Make home goods
You’re spending a lot of time at home right now, so maybe spend some time making items to spruce up your personal space. Get the right supplies and you can make potpourri, a candle or a macrame project.
48. Learn calligraphy
Calligraphy videos are a highly underrated genre of relaxing internet content. If you haven’t ever dipped your pens into the world of Instagram calligraphy videos, you should. And why stop there? You can practice your own penmanship with online tutorials. It’s a good way to finally motivate yourself to send your friends some snail mail.
49. Try your hand at papercraft or origami
Compared with other art projects, origami and papercraft require little equipment or know-how. All you need is a sheet of paper and a set of instructions to start origami-ing. If you want to go deeper into the paper art world, check out online tutorials for an introduction to the (relatively) wild worlds of papercraft and pepakura.
50. Write short stories, poetry or your life story
Does the thought of staring at a blank page or blank screen send anxiety shooting through your body? Congratulations, you’re a writer. Even seasoned novelists struggle with where to begin, which is to say: Don’t sweat it. Here are some tips for getting started:
Remember: You’re not writing for anyone other than yourself. Don’t worry about making it perfect, especially in the first draft.
Try writing your own (hypothetical) obituary as a way to outline a longer life story or memoir. It may be a bit morbid, but it’s a good way to get some perspective and focus on what really matters about your life.
If it’s not fun to write, it won’t be fun to read. Give yourself permission to be weird, silly or childish. You can always clean it up during revisions.
51. Create a PechaKucha presentation
PechaKucha is a storytelling format that involves selecting 20 slides or images that you show and discuss for 20 seconds each. In other words, you create a slideshow with 20 slides, each on a 20-second timer. It sounds simple, but — as a quick search for good examples online can reveal — it can be a powerful way to express a simple idea or story.
Share yours online via Zoom, then invite others to make their own.
You know that outdoor project you keep putting off? That one you only talk about but never act on? Yeah, that one. Now’s the time. Many home improvement stores are doing “curbside pickup” where you can order online and have your items delivered to you in the store parking lot. So get that creative mind going, make a shopping list and get to work transforming your backyard (or other green space) into an oasis. Maybe turn on some HGTV for inspiration if needed.
Tech & Gaming
53. Binge on Twitch
Not familiar with Twitch? It’s an Amazon-owned streaming platform that lets you watch others play video games. If that sounds boring, you might be surprised how engaging it can be. Browse the front page for popular streams, or search for your favorite games (including nostalgia-inducing ones).
54. Buy a new video game, then master it
Whether you like role-playing games, strategy games or sports video games, there’s something for everyone out there. Who cares if you haven’t played in years? Dust off that old system (or splurge for a new one) and find a game to master. Many of today’s newer games have complex campaigns that can take months to complete, so you’ll have plenty to keep you busy — plus there are interactive multiplayer modes for online gaming if you need some social interaction.
55. Don’t forget about gaming apps and PC games
Let’s face it. The Wii Switch and Animal Crossing are almost as difficult to come by as yeast is these days. You might have to wait months if you have to buy a new gaming console. Have no fear. Try gaming on your laptop or phone. You could try one of the big ones, like League of Legends, or opt for an old classic (remember Diplomacy?). Some popular console games, like Overcooked, also have PC versions that you can play on Steam.
56. Attend virtual game night with friends
Love board game nights? Zoom makes it possible to play some virtual games together with friends. If you like strategy and playing in teams, Werewolf is a perfect app game to play with friends. GooseChase is a fun scavenger hunt that divides a group into two teams. The teams have to complete silly missions, and whoever completes the most missions in an hour wins.
57. Try an online escape room
Whether you’ve tried IRL escape rooms in the past or just heard of them, their online equivalents offer a cheaper way to enjoy the experience while maintaining social distance.
Never heard of escape rooms? They are essentially puzzles that you and a team of friends must solve in a certain amount of time. Some find it stressful. Some find it fun. Some find it both.
58. Build your own website
Whether you have a small business or just a hobby, building a website to promote it can be faster and easier than you might think. Plenty of services online will let you create a cookie-cutter website in minutes, or you can build one from scratch if you have the technical chops.
59. Learn a computer language
Why bother with French when you can learn a language that could get you a raise? Learning a programming language may be easier than you think (especially if the payoff is immediate). Ask around at work for which languages could help in your role, then search for free tutorials online.
As with all languages, you’ll pick it up a lot faster if you actually have to use it every day. Try to give yourself a project that you can only complete with programming, then stumble your way through the process until you learn enough to be dangerous.
60. Go ‘dark’ for a day
Yes, this may be the opposite of tech ... but you might be surprised how good it feels to keep all your phones, tablets, TVs, etc., off for a full day. What happens next? Who knows — but you’ll survive, and you might even come out refreshed to tackle the next day.
Fitness & Outdoors
61. Exercise in the middle of your day
You may be used to working out in the morning or evening, which makes a lot of sense when you’re at an office or other location during the day. But one of the best features of being at home can be the ability to break up your day with personal tasks like fitness.
Even a 20-minute bike ride or jog around the neighborhood can kill two birds with one stone, giving yourself a mental break while improving your physical well-being.
62. Take long walks
Feeling stressed? Overwhelmed by your to-do list? Take a long walk in the neighborhood or at a nearby trail or park. Not only will you get a bit of exercise, you might also clear some of the “mental fog” that can set in during long days at home.
63. Do virtual athletic activities
Not being able to go to the gym can be a huge bummer for those who love to work out, but there are plenty of virtual activities you can do. Grab an exercise mat to practice yoga, Pilates and other at-home workouts. In addition, you can order a stationary bike or an at-home Pilates bar to level-up your routine.
64. Invest in a basketball hoop and an NBA-grade basketball
If you’re got a place to hang up a basketball hoop, why not buy an NBA-quality ball and start shooting hoops? Playing ball can be a fun way to get outside — and when the pandemic ends, you’ll have a new sporty skill to talk about.
65. Take socially distanced walks with friends or family
Though many of us are spending a lot more time indoors, if local rules permit, consider going for a walk at a safe distance. Ask a friend or family member to go on a walk to a park or just around the block — you’ll benefit your mental and physical health simultaneously.
66. Take up gardening
Gardening can be a really relaxing activity. Those who have a backyard can order some seeds online and create a space outdoors to plant a garden. If you live in an apartment, consider growing an herb garden indoors. The space doesn’t need to be large; it just needs to get sunlight. A windowsill can be a great choice. You can even buy some pretty planters online that match the overall decor of your apartment.
67. Rent a bike
Cycling experienced a mini boom this spring as the cabin-feverish looked for ways to get outdoors. If you don’t have a bike of your own, consider renting from a local shop for a day. If you haven’t ridden one in a long time, don’t worry: It’s just like riding a bike.
68. Have a backyard campout
Bust out the tent and sleeping bags and head right outside your back door. Build a fire, roast some s'mores and tell stories with a flashlight. Enjoy a little rest and relaxation in whatever backyard space you have. Bonus points for leaving the electronics inside for the whole night. Kids or no kids, a backyard campout is fun for all.
69. Gaze at the stars
Step outside, look up and get curious. Check out the Sky Map app to plot out constellations you can barely see with the naked eye. Stargaze to your heart’s content, and enjoy a night of natural lights instead of man-made.
70. Go take a hike
Fresh air and a healthy dose of vitamin D can do a world of good. If you live downtown, find a local park or trail within driving distance where you can seek solace in nature. Don your bandanna (which can double as a mask when needed), lace up your walking shoes and just go.
71. Go to a pick-your-own farm
You might be surprised how close some farms are to your own home. Even if you don’t have a home garden, food is sometimes growing not far from your backyard. Check out whether pick-your-own farms near you are open to pick summer fruits or flowers. Social distancing is usually easy on a farm because there is so much land where you can spread out, and some farms are taking reservations for time slots so they can limit the number of people visiting at any one time.
72. Throw a (mini) block party
If it’s allowed in your locale, get some neighbors together for a socially distanced gathering. Have everyone bring their own lawn chair and drink of choice, and sit at least six feet apart in a circle. Remember to wear masks if your local government requires it. Despite the weird circumstances, it’ll still be nice to enjoy a summer evening and get to know your neighbors.
73. Build an 'American Ninja Warrior'-style obstacle course
Depending on your handiness with the tools, you can build an obstacle course in your backyard. All you need to do is search "Ninja Warrior” for plenty of inspiring contraptions. This could be especially fun if you have kids. Just remember: Safety first!
Self-Care & Beauty
74. Don’t underestimate the power of a three-day weekend
When it comes to avoiding burnout, keep it simple. An extra day off on Monday or Friday can provide a true break from your normal routine and give you extra motivation for the following week.
If it feels good, repeat. You might get more benefit from a string of long weekends than a standard vacation, especially while travel remains difficult.
75. Break up your week with a Wednesday staycation
Alternatively, if your weeks feel like marathons you’re barely able to finish, consider breaking them up with Wednesday staycations. Make sure to set aside fun or relaxing activities during the day to avoid falling into unhelpful routines.
76. Relax (for real)
Sounds simple, but it ain’t. Most of us never learn specific techniques for relaxation, and we think any time not spent in high-stress mode counts. Yet there’s a world of mental health difference between zoning out while watching TV and a relaxation technique like meditation, yoga or a walk in the woods.
One surefire way to ensure you’re not simply distracting yourself: Put the phone away.
77. Learn to meditate
The definition of mindfulness is simple: awareness of the present moment with acceptance. Yet practicing it in real life — even for a few minutes — can be both challenging and rewarding. Try meditating 10 minutes every day for a month, and see if you notice any changes in your stress levels, mood or well-being.
You can get an app to help pick up the practice (usually for a fee) or search for free guided meditations online. The most important element is consistency, so set aside time every day to build the habit.
78. Throw yourself a celebration day or week
TGI … Tuesday! Without office birthday parties or happy hours, the week can slip by in a homogeneous blur. It might feel cheesy to throw yourself or your family a party, but thankfully there’s probably nobody around to judge you.
79. Spa day
Turn your home into your favorite resort spa. Get yourself a face mask, run a warm bath and give yourself a manicure or pedicure. If you’ve got a quarantine buddy, maybe they get bonus points for giving you a massage.
80. Experiment with new makeup looks
For everyone who has said they know nothing about doing their makeup, this is your chance. If you mess it up, you have plenty of time to watch some online makeup tutorials and test what works best for you. Maybe you can experiment and find ways to tone down (or up?) that smoky eye look you’ve always wanted to try. Bonus: Now's your chance to use up all those free samples cluttering your bathroom.
81. Learn to do your own nail art
Always wondered how manicurists can turn your fingernails into tiny works of art (and make it look easy)? Time to experiment. There are plenty of online tutorials that can give you ideas and inspiration, and the supplies you’ll need are easy to order online and have delivered. Plus, if you mess up, nobody will be the wiser (though it could be fun to share your “creations” over video chat).
82. Do nothing. No, really.
What if you had no responsibilities for a day? No, really — none at all. Especially if you don’t have kids, try not setting an alarm one day. Don’t have a to-do list. Don’t make plans. Stay in bed until noon like a teenager? Sure! Enjoy the freedom of having no plans and nothing you “have to do” for an entire day. If you have kids, maybe expand the “do nothing” rule to everyone for one day. No schedule, no plans, no eating rules — just see where the day takes you.
83. Do some volunteer work
Volunteering is an enriching experience, and it can be especially rewarding now when so many people are in need of help. Most organizations (like food banks, pet shelters, etc.) have websites with information about how to sign up to volunteer, and you can always call for details.
Keep in mind: “Volunteering” isn’t restricted to working with an existing organization. Doing something like helping your elderly neighbors buy groceries can be a huge, meaningful help.
84. Offer to review resumes or do mock interviews
If you know people who are looking for a job, consider offering to review their resumes or practice interviewing. A second set of eyes on a resume can help spot inaccuracies. If you plan on doing a mock interview, try it over Zoom so you can record yourself and review later for practice.
85. Teach others a skill
If you have a skill you can teach others, consider doing a virtual meeting on Zoom, hosting a webinar or a panel discussion, participating as a guest on a podcast or guest-writing on a blog. A lot of us have great skills that others would love to know about, so why not share your knowledge with those who want to learn?
86. Do mass reviews for your Amazon purchases
When was the last time you left a positive review for that product you bought that you actually really like? Even if you bought it on Amazon, a lot of those sellers are smaller businesses — and we all know how much people rely on positive reviews when shopping. So show some love as you scroll through your purchase history, and leave positive reviews for the items you truly enjoy.
87. Support your favorite businesses by buying online
Small local businesses have been hammered by the pandemic, as many relied on in-person sales. Lots of these outlets have quickly pivoted to online sales this year, offering unique bundles, pickup options and other perks that some online giants cannot. From board games to handcrafts, many products you want and need can be found at stores that you can support in your community.
88. Complete random acts of kindness (on a budget)
For a fun and helpful challenge, set a budget and a timeline to do some unexpected nice things for your friends or loved ones. Shop online for something affordable to brighten their day, bake something they’ll love (and deliver it secretly), compile a playlist of their favorite music, write about your best memories together, etc.
Food & Cooking
89. Learn how to make your food more beautiful
Be the talk of the neighborhood at your next block party when you wow them with handcrafted carved garnishes. Practice carving watermelon into a fabulous fruit salad centerpiece, or sharpen your knife and learn how to carve radishes and turnips into ornate flowers to brighten any dinner table.
90. Throw yourself an indulgent tea party
Find some white gloves and a wide-brimmed hat and throw an all-out tea party in your living room. Prepare tiny crustless sandwiches on a tiered cake stand. Bake some scones and lather them with jam and butter. Lay out your spread with a sugar bowl, a creamer full of milk and, of course, a variety of teas.
91. Make handmade ice cream
Learn the art of making ice cream using only a few ingredients, and it will taste that much sweeter — no machine required (but by all means, use it if you have it). Check out online DIY tutorials and enjoy delicious ice cream treats on demand.
92. Take a world tour in your own kitchen
Cook one new dish every day from a new country. Read up on each culture and find ethnic music to accompany your cooking and dining. Bonus points for outfits to match!
93. Cook with a loved one
Sharing is caring! Find a new recipe to cook with your in-person isolation buddies, or share it with someone you don't live with and cook together over Zoom. Enjoy some laughs and chitchat while you cook, or maybe have a friendly competition over who does it better.
94. Dust off that dormant kitchen appliance
Got a Crock-Pot, Instant Pot, steamer, waffle iron or Dutch oven that you never use? Load up on recipes and give that long-forgotten kitchen helper some love. Find recipes from books you already have, or crowdsource from your friends and family.
95. Check out Pinterest for food recipes
Pinterest is a great visual search engine, which makes it much easier to know what the dish you want to cook will ultimately look like. If you’re running out of ideas on what to cook or just want to learn how to cook a new dish, check out the many inspirational food-themed boards here.
96. 'No cooking' day
Vacations often include a lot of eating out, exploring new restaurants and taking a break from doing the dishes. There’s no reason your staycation can’t include restaurant food, too. Close the kitchen one day, and instead plan a day where you can splurge on ordering food. It could be for one fancy meal, like a to-go setup from a high-end restaurant that now does takeout orders. Or it could be an entire day: Get brunch (pancakes to go!), an afternoon snack (ice cream has always been takeout, really) and dinner from a local favorite. Plus, you’ll help support local businesses.
97. Take on an ambitious recipe
With your new shelter-in-place routine, you might be able to finally conquer some of those time-consuming recipes you’ve always wanted to try. Think homemade bagels, carnitas, pho or ramen. The more prep time, the better. Plus, while you’re waiting for the dough to rise or the meat to marinate, you can get back to binge-watching, puzzling, reading or any of these other staycation ideas.
98. Perfect your cocktails
Happy hour is whatever hour you want it to be when you’re on a staycation. Take some time to test new cocktail recipes or master old ones. Alcohol delivery is certainly a thing, so you don’t even need to leave the house to get the right supplies.
99. Try making beer or wine at home
If this idea always fell under the category of “I’d love to, but I don’t have any time," then guess what: The time could be now. In fact, you might be surprised how simple brewing your own adult beverages can be. The big trick is keeping all the equipment sanitized.
100. Collect and share family recipes
If your family’s recipes are kept on pieces of paper or in the minds of a few grandparents, do a service for future generations and collect them digitally. Here’s how to get started:
Send an email requesting family recipes.
Collect them into a single document.
Share the final results in an easy-to-keep format, like a PDF (or even a hard-copy book if you’re ambitious).
101. Master the BBQ
Even if you already consider yourself a grill master, there’s always more to learn. Whether you want to try your hand at something new or perfect that meat you’re already good at, you won’t be sorry you invested some time in upping your BBQ game. Pick a new dish, a new meat, a new rub or a new style and get to work. With so many online resources available, getting that perfectly cooked burger or juicy chicken to come off your grill is a delicious way to spend a staycation.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card