Don’t have the cash or money to jet off to far away places? That’s what a staycation is for…

What do we want? A vacation. When do we want it? Well, if you’re scraping the bottom of your piggy bank and staring down the barrel of a negative annual leave balance, maybe in five years? Hold up, you might not have to wait that long. According to Sarah King, travel expert for Last Minute, you can still score a sense of escapism without forking out for a plane ticket – all you need is a staycation. Not sure how? Write out your local hit list and go from there. Think about your international bucket list and work out how you can give yourself a taste of it at home. View your city like a traveller would, King tips, and you’ll come across a smörgåsbord of vacayworthy activities – kind of like these ones:

GET YOUR FOODIE FIX

If eating is your favourite pastime, why not dedicate a whole weekend to it? Before you call up your go-to Thai joint, make a list of all the other cool cafés and restaurants you’re dying to try. Short on ideas? Check out a site like Zomato to find new foodie haunts in your area. After you’ve feasted your way around town, take your culinary getaway up a notch and hitch a ride to your nearest farmers’ markets. Take a stroll through the stalls, fill up a basket with whatever fresh produce takes your fancy, then grab a picnic blanket and enjoy your spoils in a nearby park.

EXTEND YOUR EXPERIENCE

Purchased tickets to a live gig or musical? Use your return taxi fare on a cheeky hotel visit instead, tips King. Check in, treat yourself to dinner, head out for the show, then wake up to a buffet breakfast. Does it get any better?

PLAN A CULTURE CRAWL

Switch off the telly and treat your eyes (and your grey matter) to a day of museums and art galleries. If you’re not sure where the local culture hubs are, check out Museums Galleries Australia for a list of institutions in your state. Oh, and if you’re keen to make your visits a regular thing, sign up for a membership – you’ll score cheaper entry and souvenirs so you can spend your cash on something else (like a shopping spree).

FAKE AN OVERSEAS TRIP

This just in: You don’t have to be in Hawaii to enjoy the sun, sand and surf. Have a car? Can drive to the sea? Sign up for surf lessons, then spend the night in a cosy seaside cottage you find on Airbnb. Always wanted to visit Italy? Book in for a weekend Italian cooking course and make like you’re in Florence. You’ll be out of your comfort zone (which is what happens when you go on vacay) and you could even make new friends (sans dirty hostel). For a real international feel, check your local council’s website for any upcoming multicultural festivals and plan your staycation around them.

GO WALK ABOUT

Whether you’re hulled up in the city or shacked up in the country, one thing’s for sure: a stellar bushwalking track isn’t far behind you in this great land of ours. Break out your boots and explore your (greater) backyard with a hike through a national park or check out AllTrails for a list of lesser-known paths to trek.

BOOK A HOTEL STAY

Go ahead and book a room somewhere a bit fancy for the night. “If your mission is to relax, put up your feet and lounge by the hotel pool, enjoy a spa treatment or any other perks your hotel offers that you wouldn’t get at home.” Don’t have enough coin for a luxe room and a luxe treatment? Do as King suggests and look on lastminute.com.au for discounted accommodation. This way you can splurge on those special extras.

SLEEP UNDER THE STARS

Pitch a tent and set up camp in your backyard or on your balcony (if you can brave the cold). “A staycation is about having a break from your everyday life and feeling like you’re on holiday,” says King, so detach from the norm and enjoy the outdoors. Bring your pillows and some board games outside, order dinner from that new restaurant in town, have Deliveroo drop it to your backyard, then kick back with a cheeky sunset wine.

TURN YOUR HOUSE INTO A DAY SPA

First things first, light those scented candles. Next, dim the lights or close the curtains and play some mellow tunes to help you relax. Take a soak in the tub and exfoliate your bod with a coffee body scrub, then get silky smooth with a body oil and creamy lotion. Invite your besties over if you feel like being social, take turns treating each other to a mani and pedi then finish off with a face massage, clay mask and cheese platter (for eating, not for wearing). If you need some solo time, pour yourself a cuppa and kick back with a good book or follow a guided meditation. Now, how’s the serenity?

This story originally appeared in the Summer 2017 issue of Women’s Fitness