Photo by Jayegirl99.

You’re feeling worn out and in desperate need of a vacation but there’s one major problem – a holiday just isn’t in your budget. Add to that you’ve got a major project underway at work and there’s really no way to get enough time off right now. So how can you still recharge?

Why not try a staycation?

A staycation is where you vacation in your own city. One of the biggest upsides of the concept is the amount of money you save on transportation (which is usually the most expensive part of a vacation). It’s also great if you only have a small window of time – like a weekend – since there’s no time wasted on travel.

The whole idea might sound rather silly at first, but a staycation can actually be quite effective if you get into the right mindset. Keep reading to find out my top tips for a staycation.

9 tips for an effective staycation:

1. Plan your staycation. Decide on dates for your holiday and plan activities to fill that time, just as you would on a real vacation. The anticipation of the staycation is just as important as the holiday itself.

2. Check into a hotel or B&B just as you would on a vacation. There’s something about the act of packing a suitcase and then sleeping in a hotel room with crisp, starched sheets that just makes you feel like you’re on holiday. Do your best to match the hotel to the level of comfort you’re used to experiencing on vacation – if you stay somewhere cheap and nasty, you’ll just feel depressed and it defeats the point of checking into a hotel in the first place.

3. Hotel-ify your home. If checking into a hotel is totally out of the question budget-wise, then make your home feel more like a hotel. Iron fresh sheets for your bed, light fragrant candles, fill a vase with flowers, and have fluffy towels and bathrobes ready to go. Clear out any clutter and shut the door to your home office if you have one.

4. Pack a camera. Take lots of photos just as you would on a normal holiday and you’ll quickly get into “tourist” mode. I also find that most of us have surprisingly few photos of the cities we’ve lived in (other than family/party shots, which don’t count) even though we have thousands of pictures from our interstate and overseas jaunts.

5. Don’t run errands! As tempting as it might be to FedEx a package or pick up a few groceries because you’re passing by the supermarket, avoid the urge. The whole point of a vacation is to escape your normal routine. It can help to pay your bills and do any other chores in the week leading up to your staycation so you’ll be free to relax once it arrives.

6. Switch off your blackberry/email/work. You won’t be able to relax if you feel like you’re tied to your office by a piece of string so forewarn your colleagues so they don’t call or email you with anything work-related.

7. Venture out of your usual comfort zone. Don’t just wander around the same neighborhoods and frequent the same bars and restaurants you always do. Instead, use the opportunity to seek out new art galleries, attractions, shops and watering holes. If you need some suggestions, pick up a guidebook from the library, visit the tourist information center or look for local event guides like Time Out.

8. Take advantage of multiculturalism. If your city has a Chinatown, a “Little Mexico” or other ethnic neighborhood, these can be a great place to start your exploration – quite often you’ll feel as if you’ve really stepped into a microcosm of that country.

9. Do the kinds of things you associate with vacationing. Whether it’s drinking cocktails with little umbrellas in them, going for evening strolls to get ice cream, lounging by a pool, reading a book, enjoying a champagne brunch, seeing a musical or show, or something else – if you have a habit or custom that you associate with being on holiday, make sure you incorporate that into your staycation. The important thing is that you feel as though you’re on holiday, so take some time to consider what actions or activities will arouse that emotion.

Have you ever taken a staycation? Do you have any tips to share?