Vacation vs staycation

What Is The Difference Between Vacation And Staycation?

Who else wants to know, “What is the difference between a vacation and a staycation”? If you are, like me, then let’s find out in this post together.

I just encountered the word staycation recently while hopping from one article to another as I was looking for lists of “things to do” for our vacation in Asturias and Santiago de Compostela.

So, I started to research and read more articles about it and share with you the results.

So, What Is The Difference Between A Vacation And A Staycation?

There are several differences between a vacation and a staycation. These include that a vacation is recreational travel such as a short pleasure trip far from home or a journey abroad, which involves packing, and is often expensive. A staycation is going to leisure activities in nearby places without the need of booking accommodation, doesn’t involve packing, and is way affordable.

Pros & Cons Of A Vacation

Vacation is already very familiar to all of us because this is what we do when we want a break from our jobs, when we want to get away from a stressful situation or schedule even for a short time, or when we want to visit and bond with family and friends.

Whatever the reasons for taking one, vacation comes with its own advantages and disadvantages.

Long flights and long drives - one of the cons of a vacation.
Lisbon, Portugal, 2015. One of the vacations when I was still single.


  • Experience something new. – The opportunity to experience a new place and learn a bit about its culture and history, try its local food and delicacies, its people’s hospitality, and see its beautiful landscapes, terrains, and attractions – are just some of the things that make me excited to go on a vacation. Everytime we go on a vacation, I always learn something new and interesting.
  • Bonding with family and friends. – Vacation is a great way to visit families who live far away or a time to bond together with friends, especially those you don’t see often.


  • Expensive. – Vacation is expensive especially if you travel as a family, and more so if your destination is far from home. And this is exactly our case as a family of 4 going on a vacation to the Philippines to visit my family.
  • Needs thorough planning and packing. On-the-spot vacation might be applicable to solo travel, but I find it impossible when vacationing as a family. You have to make sure that there are no overlapping schedules, book accommodations, and of course, there’s the packing! And if you’re a mom of small kids, you already know you need to pack for everyone!
  • Long flights and drives. – This is especially true for destinations that are far and very far from home, and it might cause challenges like jet lag or lost luggage. And in the case of long drives: motion sickness for kids, among others.

Pros & Cons Of A Staycation

And now let’s talk about the concept of staycation. Wikipedia defines it as:

A staycation is a period in which an individual or family stays home and participates in leisure activities within day trip distance of their home and does not require overnight accommodation.

This is why I like the idea of a staycation because it means having fun and leisure activities close to home, without the need to take a plane flight and pack a suitcase, and without the need to stay the night away from home. How convenient for families with small kids, like mine!

Staycation costs less compared to a normal vacation that involves air or car travel, and accommodation among others.

For this reason, staycation became popular in the U.S. during the financial crisis of 2007-2010, and it also became popular in the UK in 2009 when the country’s currency got a lower value which made holidays abroad more expensive. And with the COVID-19 pandemic, a staycation is becoming common.

Enjoying a beautiful day with my kids in the beefarm.
Exploring a farm in your town – an inexpensive staycation activity.

Aside from the monetary benefits, I find staycation a great alternative to vacation, especially for families with toddlers because it means being spared from the challenges that come with travel like jet lag, long drives, and packing.


  • Less expensive. – Since a staycation is exploring your own city or neighboring ones, it means short travel time and no accommodation bookings needed (though others can also opt for a one-night hotel stay), which translates to fewer expenses compared to a vacation. There are families who make staycations as a way of saving money for a major vacation.
  • No heavy packing involve. – This is such a relief for moms, especially for moms with toddlers like me!
  • No long flights and long drives. Long flights and drives can certainly be fun, but not much when you travel with small kids. This is exactly the reason why my husband has vowed not to take another long flight anymore while the kids are small because we had a very bad experience on our very first vacation to the Philippines with a 1-year-old toddler – he only slept for 1 hour on our approx. 12-hour flight from Barcelona to Singapore.
  • Environment-friendly. Because you don’t have to take flights and long drives, you’ll generate fewer emissions and less waste. A very good way especially if you are looking for ways to lessen your carbon footprint.
  • It supports the local economy.

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  • It can feel boring. – Since you are coming home after enjoying the day activities, there is a big tendency to feel bored. But this can be avoided if you plan ahead and choose activities that will surely give enjoyment and fun to your entire family.
  • You might be tempted to keep on working. – Staycation is designed to be a vacation from home and it means not doing any work or housework at all. But this is very difficult to do, especially if you see that the kids’ toys are already all over the place. And if you have a very hardworking husband who gets nervous when he is not doing anything, this is a possibility.

The advantages listed above are what convinced my husband to say yes to my proposal of a staycation, instead of the original plan of having another vacation (a short one) before #1 starts going to school this September.

Though staycation is a new word for me, I realized that the previous trips to the beach, the museum, and theme parks were already staycation activities. However, I am excited to plan our very first “official staycation”. And I’ll be sharing it here with you, soon.

Some Family Staycation Ideas

Some of the most common staycation ideas for families with kids are being a tourist in your own city, going to the pool, going to a zoo or an aquarium, having a movie marathon, setting up a camping tent in the backyard, visiting a children’s museum, going to a theme park, and going to a picnic.

For more family staycation ideas, read this: 25 affordable and fun family staycation ideas.

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Visiting one of the local zoos – is one of the most common staycation activities.

Another staycation idea is to make it thematic, like a food staycation where you focus your activities around food. Examples are eating out in a fancy restaurant, and cooking an international dish together.

So, Which Is Better: A Vacation Or A Staycation?

There’s no “one is better than the other” when it comes to vacation and staycation, both are good and fun. The decision of which one to take depends on your circumstances, current conditions, budget, and schedules.

In my own opinion, a mixture of both is a good balance especially now that our kids are small. One or two vacations with mini-staycations scattered throughout the year is a good idea.

With covid19 still rampant here in Spain, a staycation is really a good option.

If you want to try a family staycation or planning to have one, this post might be of help to you:


How To Plan A Family Staycation With Toddlers


Final Thoughts

Now that the difference between a vacation and a staycation is clear, I would love to have a mix of both for my family.

Whether we choose a vacation or a staycation, we have to put in mind that the purpose of having one is to relax and spend quality time, so the best option is whatever sounds most relaxing for the entire family.

Most of all, it should be fun and safe for all.

So, what do you prefer? A vacation or a staycation?

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