Our “shit happens!” anniversary staycation

Guest post by Ashley

a hufflepuff and ravenclaw sittin' in the whomping willow…
As our first wedding anniversary drew closer, it became apparent we had… no money. As they say, life happens, and it sure was happening in full swing as we wracked our brains on what to do for our anniversary. Our options were pretty scarce and our usual vacation ideas (Disneyland, camping, Tahoe) just weren’t feasible. So we had to do the tried-and-true: staycation.

Sure, this decision was a disappointment. I’m not going to sit here and lie and say “LOOK HOW COOL WE ARE, WE DON’T NEED YOUR HOTELS OR NEW PLACES” because I was really bummed. Maybe because it was our first anniversary as married humans or because I can be a sour puss, but Mike, with his ultimate optimism when it comes to us, reassured me it would be fun.


And he was right! Luckily for us, we enjoy everyday activities. Like food. Or grocery stores, or impromptu trips to Target. Or my personal favorite… sitting on my ass. So we did all those things and more.

Mike took five days off, we kicked out our roommate for a few days, and dedicated our lovely little home as our new and fresh hotel.


When I planned our little staycation, not much needed to be set in stone as we didn’t even have money to do much locally. However, I did have one mega-important plan: paint an accent wall in our living room. We decided to just try to find a gallon of oops paint at Home Depot that we liked. That… never happened. All weekend we only found off white and grey colors and that’s not how we roll. It just goes to show you, things can even go wrong during a staycation.


So what went right? Everything else. We ate all kinds of food that we love — did I mention we love food? We went to a different town’s Farmer’s Market for a change of pace. We ate brunch at a restaurant we had never been to and were very curious about (it was delicious). We ate (lots of) food from restaurants we had been to. We spent lots of time at hardware stores looking at paint and plants. We went to our favorite place to kiss and run around: the grocery store. We drove too far for a Yelp! event that was too boring, and laughed at an improv jam. We even had friends over and busted out a brand new fire pit we found on clearance (frugality never sleeps!).







I’m not trying to sit on my high horse and say that I staycationed and was a hipster and have cute pictures of my husband in a record store (though I do). I’m just simply saying that yeah, I was pretty butt hurt about missing a “real” vacation for my BIG DEAL OMG first anniversary, but it turned out fun. And like our wedding, it embodied us.

Comments on Our “shit happens!” anniversary staycation

  1. The husband and I have definitely been there several times. One time I recall, was V-day, which I normally could care less about. I worked at Hallmark, it jaded me. But one V-day, we were broke and so decided not to do anything. But since neither of us are good at sticking with the plan, I picked up a six pack of beer and made a card for my handsome guy. As I get home thinking I was so awesome for that, he had already been home early and making a special dinner complete with flowers, candles, and the movie we watched on our first date. Sometimes the most simple of celebrations are the best.

  2. Yep, our first anniversary was in June and predictably we had no money. We went across the street and had some drinks and ate a couple appetizers, then we went to Wawa for sammiches. Yep.

  3. About the paint- Little known to everyone I know, the dump has a hazardous waste facility. They get all sorts of paint (and stain, etc), and at least here, all you have to do is go through the racks and pick out what you want to take. If you can find what you want. There’s always a lot of the brighter/ more vivid colors, and if there isn’t enough of one color, you can always go back in time to primary school and mix it. I made a gorgeous dark teal that went into our house and two other peoples out of a partial gallon of black and a partial 5 gallon of white with a bunch of mismatched greens. I suspect our local landfill isn’t the only one offering this!

  4. Our first anniversary is in three weeks and up until this afternoon I was planning on a staycation. Then I remembered we had a gift card my parents gave me for my birthday, found a little hotel on the mountains that will take it for one night+breakfast, we’ll pay for one more night and we’ll get 3 days of total bliss and relax. I’d have been totally fine with staying home, but some part of me told me I’d maybe regret it once the day was here (I know I regreted not having a nice hotel room for our first married night and maybe that’s what I’m trying to compensate here), so I’m extremely happy we found a super cheap solution.

    Otherwise, for a staycation, I’d reccomend:

    – Do a whole house cleaning the day before your “holidays”. That way you’ll enjoy a nice home and the dust bunnies won’t accumulate enough to make you want to clean (unless you enjoy cleaning, in which case, go crazy mopping!)

    – Go to your local tourist office. You have no idea how many things you’re missing about your town until you have guests over. They start telling you about “the house where XXXX lived”, “the cute little comic museum” and “the weirdest spot in the forest where all the trees look like gorillas in pyjamas”. Pretend to be a tourist in your own hometown, take pictures and even maybe write yourself a postcard explaining how much fun you’re having.

    – Switch off the phone. If you can’t unplug completely, keep it to a minimum. It makes wonders for one’s health.

    – Do something with your partner that you don’t usually get to do together. In our case, that’s cooking. I make lunch and he makes dinner, and the other person is working during that time. So when we have the time we like browsing our recipe books, picking a couple new ones, shopping for the ingredients and then cooking together with some music and wine.

    – Above all, enjoy! Sometimes we get too much pressure to do this or that just because we’re on holiday. If you hate reading, don’t do it. If you like cleaning your windows, go ahead and enjoying having the time not to rush it. Do whatever you want, because it’s YOUR time.

    • These are great tips! I love cleaning the house before any kind of vacation. Even if I’m going away I love to clean the house first so I can come home to a nice, clean home. I don’t remember if we cleaned the house before our staycation though… hm.

      We have a Firehouse museum in town and I’m still a bit sad we never went! Someday.

  5. i think this is a great idea…much better than sitting around and pouting! my guess is that most young couples don’t have the money to do anything extravagant anyway, it’s important to see that you don’t need a lot of $$$ to have a great time (and I totally know the feeling, we didn’t get a honeymoon and by our 1st wedding anniversary we were unexpectedly preggo…just gotta roll with it!)

    • I can be such a pouty baby when it comes to these things… maybe I was spoiled as a young one, who knows! It’s all in perspective and making the most of what’s happening. Good for you for having a positive attitude!

  6. This article makes me happy. My husband and I had to cancel our honeymoon to Disneyworld because we were in a car wreck and I herniated a disc in my neck (no traveling for me, let alone roller coasters). So instead we are having a staycation. I think these are great ideas and we will try to incorporate them (especially all the cooking–good call!).

  7. My husband and I are celebrating our first wedding anniversary next week and we have something quite similar planned. Staying in town and going to our favorite place for dinner, and having peace and quiet, and maybe a party! I would rather save up for a big trip than take a little one anyway.

    • I know I’m late to the party on this one – sorry!!

      The ONLY reason we can afford a vacation is because of credit card points. I’m not saying we have the best program out there (we do) but it will cover the hotel, airfare, and often the hotels will kick in a meal voucher if you tell them it’s a special occasion.

      My Husband and I just put all our bills, and groceries (all the things we are going to buy anyway) on the credit card and the points come rolling in!! He’s got one and I’ve got one but because it’s the same type of point program we can add our points together and they add up faster.

      We have to be disciplined, and not spend more then we have of course, but if all you have to pay for on your vacation is entertainment it makes it a LOT easier to go places!! That’s basically what you’re paying for on a staycation anyway…entertainment….

      Just my two cents…

  8. My husband and I never took a honeymoon (I was immigrating to Canada from the States and needed the money for that) so when our one year came this past April we had to do something. We both work jobs that are deadline crazy so we couldn’t take a week off and go anywhere so we did a ‘staycation’ of sorts as well. We went to a little hotel/spa here in Vancouver where we live for two nights. Spent the entire time in the hotel room ordering room service and watching stupid TV we don’t have access to at our house. Also enjoying the massive soaker tub they had in the room. We ended the weekend by getting a couples massage. It was perfect!
    We have been together for 4 years now and still haven’t taken an actual vacation that doesn’t involve visiting family. That we weekend is the closest we’ve gotten, and probably will get for quite some time!

  9. When we had our one year anniversary, we didn’t have much money either (do we ever?!) so we took a drive to charlottesvillle, VA (about 2 1/2 hours from us) to go to the orchard. We spend about 2 hours there, got apples and cider, then drove home. Nothing TOO crazy because we just didn’t have crazy money to spend!
    Maybe this year we will get to take a weekend to NC for our anniversary…maybe…

  10. Thank you for this! Our 1 year wedding anniversary is coming up and we are totally broke, we had all these grand plans for having a weekend away in a nice hotel or bed and breakfast but unless there is some miracle it won’t be happening. We will be staying home and visiting local places, we’re lucky that we live near the beach so it’s like being on holidays here anyway 🙂

  11. My fiance and I have been in this boat many many times! We actually just got back yesterday from our first real get out of the house vacation, and we’ve been together for 5 years. What we learned early on is that time is what you make of it. And while yes it’s always fun a great to get out and explore this huge world we live in, I could spend a lifetime sitting on a couch as long as he’s next to me 🙂 Glad you had a great anniversary!

  12. Another tip on staycation:
    If you’re a camping/nature loving type, take a daytrip to a near-by nature reserve and do some hiking. Or go to a garden (botanical, arboretum, theme, whatever). I relax the most in nature and doing this is not expensive at all. We did this on our staycation honeymoon.

  13. My fiance and I like to schedule “us” weekends a couple times during the year, kind of like a staycation. We have bagel brunches, make forts out of sheets and furniture, take naps, and cook together. We don’t have the funds for “real” vacations, but our weekends are a blast.

  14. My husband and I stayed home and laid in bed and watched movies. And we had a gift certificate for a (uptight) steak house – while the steak house wasn’t our style we laughed and drank and didn’t feel at all like a poor twenty-something year old couple. It was a great day.

  15. When my husband and I realized that we didn’t have enough money to go on a honeymoon I was super bummed. I think we sulked for and evening and then came up with a great idea. In college (when we also had no money) we used to stay in his ex-mentor teacher’s condo at the beach for a discounted cost. We asked her and she actually gave us the condo for free for 10 days! Granted it wasn’t staying home, but it was more of a staycation-honeymoon then the glamorous, exotic honeymoon we had been planning. We cooked, took long walks on the beach, watched movies, drank wine, read, I knitted, and we went out to eat . We even invited my sister, her boyfriend, and friend from Korea to come stay with us for a few days. It was just the local coast that we’ve been to a million times, but it was relaxing, special, and just what we needed. In fact, we talk about how a traveling honeymoon wouldn’t have been as relaxing because we would have felt the pressure to sight see and do exciting things instead of just playing strip Mario Cart.

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