Saturday Question: Staycation in the Time of Pandemic – What to do?

Today I’m asking a question to which I have no answer. So, it’s not a “how-to” type of post where I would share my ideas inviting you to add yours as a hypothetical exercise. I’m actually asking for you advice.

Being too careful, in many years of blogging, I mentioned my traveling during the trip just a couple of times (when we had someone staying at our place). On all other occasions I would publish something about it only post facto.

This year it’s different: not only we had to cancel our Hawaii vacation (I so looked forward to it!), but now, at the last moment, we have to figure out what to do with the vacation week we took, since because of the still expanding wild fires we cannot go to Napa and Sonoma, as planned. And because of the air quality, all those parks, beaches and city walks that I was always so proud of when telling anybody about the area I live, are out or reach. Combined with the COVID-19 limitations, we cannot go almost anywhere. But since both my vSO and I are tired (luckily for us, pandemic hasn’t affected our jobs yet), we’re still taking that time off. Now I need to think of what to do to maximize the positive effect from the vacation and not to fall back onto doing something work-related because we can’t occupy ourselves.


Saturday Question on Undina's Looking Glass


Saturday Question #33:

Staycation in the Time of Pandemic – What to do?

Taking into the consideration that the air might not improve significantly, and we’ll try not to spend outside too much time, is there anything you could recommend?

I’m asking for rather specific than generic advices (I mean, “listen to a podcast” is a solid advice, but I would appreciate a link or a name, or where to find it).

Suggestions do not have to be “free,” but it would be great if they were implementable (so, no “New Zealand is great this time of the year, please :) ). Perfume-related suggestions and other activities that are not necessarily engage both of us are welcomed as well.


Staycation in the Time of Pandemic – What to do?



31 thoughts on “Saturday Question: Staycation in the Time of Pandemic – What to do?

  1. I am on the last days of a week’s staycation, with my Vso, and we both were tired before it started. We had booked a trip to Crete, Greece, only for it to be declared a ‘red’ region a day after…We had a look at other options, but there were none.

    We are very fortunate not to have the burden of wildfires and wildfire smoke nearby so I think we had more freedom (but worries nevertheless as new measures have been taken which may impact our business again). What we did? First we both expressed our wishlist, i.e. for me to buy new good quality frying pans in a town nearby, and to have some pictures framed, both combined with a nice lunch out. As we are normally very very busy, these wishes are nice outings for me (and us). My Vso wanted to go to the sauna (he did without me, I don’t enjoy them). Then we chose a few restaurants/lunch places which we wanted to visit, we visited two, one more to go. We had some longstanding to-do’s (get Netflix fixed – it didn’t run properly) which we ticked off. All of this we did, which gave pleasure and satisfaction, and time to talk. We talked quite a bit about former holidays, we travelled a lot, and I see now how these memories are nice to visit.

    What we both did to rest is read, together, with the dog at our feet, mugs of tea…you get the picture. I read a lot of cozy mystery (I learned this genre term from Tara), Gamache, Clare Ferguson/Russ van Alstyne, Ian Rankin’s latest Rebus. My husband read Patrick Leigh Fermor’s a Time of Gifts, he enjoyed it very much. Some time ago he read the Last American Man which he also enjoyed a lot. So nothing ambitious, easy reading to keep your mind off everything.

    Conclusions: it wasn’t really a holiday, don’t expect that or wish it to be so. It just isn’t. It was nice, it was a good rest, it gave pleasure and joy, and it gives the luxury of time, to cook, to talk, to have coffee together, to just be together.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Your week sounds nice. I’ll see what I can do. There are several things I’ve been posting that require daytime. So, if the air cooperates, I’ll try to take care of them. Thank you for the list of books. Noted.


  2. My BIL & SIL used their lockdown time to beautify their backyard, but I don’t know if you have a yard or if the air quality would allow gardening. Other things I might do is organize all our photos, refinish furniture, research & plan a trip for the future, do some elaborate cooking/baking, working on craft projects, catalog my perfume collection, and read all the books I have piled up.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey Undina,
    Yeah, we too have had holidays cancel this year.
    Jin loves to cook (so do I but with him it’s different) and try new things. Often when he tries new cuisine or dishes we will go eat them in a restaurant before he makes them so he has a reference point. Through the lockdown and now C19 rules he has taught himself a few dishes he remembers vaguely from his childhood as an extremely poor kid in a tiny fishing town in South Korea. Some of them are WAY too fishy for me but it has been fun trying, and helping in the kitchen.
    He also bought a hibachi. It’s a table top BarBQ run by coals, as you can see in many Korean BarBQ restaurants. With this he has expanded his meat repertoire.
    During this time he has also taught me how to make many of the delicious side dishes served with Korean food. That means he can be cooking and preparing meat while I get the rest of the meal together.
    Almost everything is on YouTube in English
    Chive Pancakes
    Mini Kimbup (we also use all other meats)
    Radish Kimchi

    These are fun, simple things to learn and do in tandem or singly.
    Portia xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know that I’ll get over the disappointment, and that a lot of others are in the same situation or worse. It’s just hard not to complain a little when your back-up plan for the canceled main plan gets also canceled :)

      I have never thought of cooking Korean food (even though I ate it when going out)! I’ll look at the videos you linked to. Thank you.


      • 100% Undina, we all feel a bit cheated by 2020. Best way to cope is to share frustrations and disappointment. we all got to get some off our chest.

        It’s worth a try. Basic Korean is very easy once you understand their method. Let me know if you guys do try it.
        Portia xx


  4. I’ll second & third a suggestion of reading. Most library systems have been trying very hard to move everything they can to online formats. So now might be a good time to explore just what your local library is offering: ebooks & eaudiobooks, music, movies, magazines of course, but also online classes & tutorials. Some have gathered links to virtual museum tours. Shameless plug for my profession, but these can be enjoyed indoors & are free for the most part. Enjoy your time off.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I just wanted to say that staying home can be much more enjoyable than you imagine. I wanted to go away because I thought time in the flat wouldn’t feel like a break at all but I’ve had the nicest time. I made sure all signs of work were put away. Just getting up later and being on my own schedule has been bliss. Eating nice food, reading in bed and going out for a jog. It’s surprising how different it feels to when you’re working from home.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I agree. We did this a few weeks ago—took about a week and a half off, and fortunately were able to spend a few days away driving distance, but the remaining days were mostly spent at home. We went to the mall one day, which always takes up several hours. Otherwise, we would each do our own thing (I did a lot of reading, and he did some digital drawings) and have a nice dinner together with wine. We never got bored—simply not having to work for a few days made a huge difference. Enjoy your time off!

      Liked by 2 people

    • I’ll try my best not to allow work to barge into mt vacation :)
      I hope weather and air will permit for walking. It would be a nice change to be able to go for a walk while it’s still light outside.


  6. Do you enjoy train trips? I know Amtrak has some nice routes in California, like its Pacific Surfliner. Maybe you could take a scenic train ride to an area with better air quality? I find long train trips relaxing, between scenery and bringing a good book, and not having to drive. This summer, we drove a few hours to the beach and stayed in a “hotel condo” for a week; it was like having a small apartment, but in a hotel-type setting with cleaning staff and a pool. I wonder if there are locations within driving distance of your home, with better air, where you could stay for a few days and enjoy the outdoors more. Also, I’ve been impressed here in the East with the sensible measures being taken by museums and botanical gardens to allow visitors, such as limited and timed entry, if those appeal to you and are available nearby.
    If you stay in your home and you both enjoy the arts, you could set up a week of viewing special performances every night, anything from opera to recorded Broadway shows, as so many are now available. You could watch a different one each night, get dressed up (and scented!) as if going out, order in a fancier dinner than usual, and make fancy cocktails!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I will have to revisit this post later in the year for suggestions. Starting Jan. 1, 2021, my work is changing the maximum PTO an employee can accrue – the cap will be 200 hours. I am at 360 hours so I will need to take a big chunk of time off so that I can get below the new max and continue to accrue PTO. The likelihood of actually being able to travel anywhere on my bucket list means that I will have to make the most of a staycation. I do have a large pile of books on my bookshelf that I do need to be read. I do have some recommendations for reading if you happen to choose your time off to catch up on reading – perhaps get into a series. I enjoy the Isabel Dalhousie series by Alexander McCall Smith (set in Edingburgh) and Jane Harper’s crime novels set in Australia (need to read the most recent book in both these series). The Miss Peregrine series is good too – just finished reading book 4 in the series. Have you considered doing some day trips or even an overnight trip to some other wine tasting regions – Livermore or Monterey perhaps? My brother who lives in Tracy enjoys Fenestra Winery in Livermore.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Livermore had the same air quality issues as we all here, so it wasn’t a consideration. We might go to Monterey, if weather and air cooperate :)

        Thank you for the book recommendations, I’ll check them out. I like mysteries.

        Partially we’re taking this vacation because of our “unlimited vacation” policy: if we don’t take it now, we won’t accumulate any.

        Will you be able to use up the excess of your PTO before the NY?


        • i will be taking a few days at Thanksgiving so that I am off the whole week and also the week of Christmas off as well to use up some of the days. To use up the excess, I would have to take the month of December off – I’d love to do that but not sure if I can get approval for that.


          • I think you should talk to your manager and S.: it’s not fair NOT to give you your earned time off AND to cap what you can accrue. There are 2.5 months until the end of the year. You do not mind taking time off. If THEY can’t give it to you, THEY should figure out how to compensate you for that, you shouldn’t be penalized for the policy change!


    • I’m scarred for life with train rides “in the previous life,” and though I suspect those that you refer to might be cleaner, in general, than those that I remember, in the current situation I won’t dare to explore how well/clean those are maintained. But we might try to drive to somewhere around – hopefully, I’ll find something appealing in the next day or two.

      In the beginning of the pandemic I was watching some of the operas and shows. I should check again what’s available. And cocktails! You’re right, we should do something interesting. Thank you for the idea.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Wish I had any advice for you. I still haven’t been on my annual holiday leave this year and usually I did it in September. But this year I feel so not inspired to travel – it would have to be in Poland as I don’t feel comfortable travelling abroad in current state of the world.

    Maybe you could find some documentary series about various places across the world? Somewhere you’ve been before or someplace you’d like to visit in the future?

    Liked by 1 person

    • It feels like we won’t ever be back to “normal” traveling :(. So, it’s even more depressing to look at those places I can’t travel to :). I should probably find and watch some National Geographic films: while I enjoy watching those, I never want to actually go to those places, COVID or not ;)

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hard for me to comment as I haven’t had any work for so long the notion of a staycation doesn’t apply(!). ;) I would tend to suggest day trips, as you can pack a lot of ‘holiday-like’ memories into a single episodic day…Are Occidental and Bodega Bay affected by the fires? That may be familiar ground though. I had friends near there and there is the Hitchcock connection.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Unfortunately, most of the areas to where we considered going were affected by these fires (not all of them directly but at least by the quality of air). But it seems to be improving, so we might figure out something closer to the end of the week.


  9. My trip to Bentonville, originally scheduled for April, was rescheduled to October and was finally cancelled. I decided to keep the 3 days as staycation this coming Wednesday to Friday. Other than a haircut appointment and a trip to Costco, I decided to write a list of things to do on Wednesday for the staycation.

    For you and the VsO, I say plan to binge-watch a completed TV series although my only recommendation is to pick one that’s free for Amazon Prime members, assuming you have a membership!

    Liked by 1 person

    • We do have Prime (I do a lot of shopping there :) ), but it feels like we watched everything already :)

      We went to Costco recently during the week, and it was less scary than I expected it to be. But I still won’t try it on a weekend.

      Enjoy your short week and staycation!


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