Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing, people are uneasy about taking vacations, therefore, staycations are the next best thing, according to Linda Inmon, Extension associate-family and consumer sciences at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

Staycations allow people to stay home or take day trips to nearby destinations while relaxing and having fun doing what they want to do, Inmon said. Getting away from the stress of everyday life is necessary to help refocus on things that are important.

“Having a successful staycation means putting everything on hold until after your staycation is over,” she said. “This includes, but is not limited to, emails, unsolicited phone calls and chores. Staycations leave you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated while also saving a few dollars.”

Inmon recommends the following staycation ideas:

• Create a backyard getaway where you can read a book or watch a movie while the children play in sand, dirt or water. A barbecue is also a good idea, grilling simple foods like hot dogs and burgers. It is OK in this instance to use paper goods for eating.

• Explore the surroundings. Take walks around the neighborhood or other places of interest. Take day trips. Load the car with a picnic lunch and go to the lake to watch the water and enjoy the fresh air. If it allows for social distancing, find a spot to eat lunch, otherwise eat lunch in the car.

• Take a ride to a nearby town to try a new restaurant. Call ahead so that the meal will be ready upon arrival.

• Have a stay at home spa day for the whole family and pamper everyone with facials, manicures and pedicures. Do not forget to involve the men. They too will enjoy being pampered.

• Find a recipe and turn it into a multi-course meal that includes beverages and dessert. Include the whole family in the meal preparation. Play music from that culture to set the atmosphere.

• Enjoy camping in the house. Use the microwave to make s’mores, tell scary stories with the lights off and sleep in sleeping bags.

“Do not allow COVID-19 and social distancing to stop you from unwinding, unplugging and enjoying the moment,” Inmon said. “Time is one thing that you can never get back.”

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff offers all of its Extension and Research programs and services without discrimination.