When you can’t travel, life can feel very mundane. Unfortunately travel isn’t always possible. Whether the weekend doesn’t provide ample travel time, the budget doesn’t allow it, or there is a pandemic, there are many ways to turn your own home into a Florida destination. So let’s get creative!

Pick a Theme

It’s important to know where in Florida you’re pretending to travel. Maybe you’re taking your family to Disney, exploring the blue waters of Crystal River, partying in Key West or relaxing on the beach. Establishing a theme is an excellent jumping-off point for your journey.

Do Some Research 

Fortunately we live in the virtual age of information. With just a few taps of your fingertips you can travel to places you never dreamed about.

When planning your Florida dream vacation at home, think about these questions:

  • Which dishes are popular in my destination? Save a few recipes that feature your Florida favorites, like seafood, cuban cuisine, southern comfort food, and soul food. Or perhaps there’s a Florida theme park food you love, like funnel cake or churros.
  • What type of music would you find in your destination? Create a playlist of Caribbean music you might find at your favorite beach bar, Disney theme park or Florida theatre.
  • What types of adventures does it offer?  Perhaps fishing, hiking, roller coaster rides, kayaking or zip lining is of interest? Or maybe you prefer low key things like shopping, museums or the beaches.
  • What’s the primary culture in that region of Florida? Florida tends to be a mix of all cultures. However, if you’re headed to Orlando, Miami, or Ybor City in Tampa, you’ll probably see a significant Cuban and/or Mexican demographic.
  • What types of animals would I see in Florida? Depending on where in Florida you’re headed, our guess is that flamingoes, pelicans and dolphins will be at the top of the list.
  • What types of plants would I see in Florida? A popular answer would be palm trees, but oak trees, cacti and flowers are plentiful here, too. And don’t forget about our famous citrus trees.

Your answers above will assist in planning that perfect stay-at-home getaway.

Use Your Five Senses

Using all your senses is important when creating a Florida stay-at-home vacation. Often we try new foods, see new sights or hear interesting sound while traveling. All those experiences create that vacation feel, but they tend to be the very things we overlook. Try these tips to make your staycation feel Florida-focused.

Sight

Find accessories that represent your destination. If you’re “going to the beach,” but staying indoors, you might decorate with driftwood, coral, and sand dollars. Grab some white towels and tropical color pillows. Hang up photos of sugary sand-kissed turquoise waters, like the one below, or playful dolphins and pink flamingoes. Use rugs, comforters, or fancy towels to completely alter the feel and texture of a room. A few tropical plants or succulents to run your fingers along will bring your Florida oasis together.  And if stores are closed, there are always online options.

Find the items that really visually represent your destination to you. Then pop on a Florida beach movie, or take a look at these 13 Florida beach cams.

If you’re “heading to Disney” with your family, make sure the mouse is visible everywhere, along with your other favorite characters, like Donald Duck, Olaf, and Buzz Lightyear. Turn on Disney+ and watch your favorite Disney movie, like Aladdin or Toy Story. Or find a roller-coaster simulation on YouTube, place a row of chairs in front of the TV, and pretend you’re on an exhilarating ride. And check out Here with the Magic for virtual Disney Virtual Reality experiences. Get into it!

Love to bird watch? Then check out our tips for Florida bird watching, both in-person and virtually.

Off to the gay bar? Hang up some rainbow flags, a few neon lights and set up the bar and cocktails.

Sound

It’s easy to Google sounds related to your theme.  Perhaps it’s the roar of waves, a flock of parrots, or a school of dolphins. If you’re mimicking the theme parks, find roller coaster sounds or kids laughing.

And again, don’t forget the music! Disney-lovers, check out this incredible rendition of Hello from all of the Disney Characters. It’s really spectacular.

If you’re “headed to Key West” put on some club party music and dance the night away.

Smell

Our olfactory senses are powerful retainers of memories.  Have you ever smelled a perfume or spice and been transported to another time? Interestingly our sense of smell is often overlooked as part of the experience.  Find smells that represent your location. Oils from local flowers and scented candles or spices can all authenticate a staycation experience. Coastal scents and suntain lotion will transport you to the beach, like Clearwater Beach. One of our favorite candle companies is Woodwick. Check out the Trilogy Island candle pictured below.


Floral essential oil scents might take you to a botanical garden. Cuban food might send you to Miami. Seafood might place your mind on the end of a fishing dock.

Touch

Our favorite sense – touch! Using your sense of touch can make your vacation feel real.  Lucky enough to have a backyard space in comfortable temperatures? Then throw on your bathing suit, sit outside in the sun, dig your feet in a small sandbox, and use a blue kiddie pool to wade in ankle-foot water. Set up fans to create ocean breezes. Schedule a massage. Your imagination is a powerful tool in your home vacation. We just suggest that you avoid touching a cactus.

Taste

This one is perhaps the most important.  Remember those recipes we found earlier? Find the ingredients you need to recreate dishes from your ideal Florida destination. Most cities have stores themed after different cuisines that offer ingredients you can’t find at your local grocer. Head to your local Cuban market, seafood supplier or roadside smoker to pick up Florida foodie favorites. Most grocery stores also have a small ethnic aisle teeming with exciting things to try. 

And if you’re a Disney fanatic, then mickey-themed waffles, cotton candy and ice cream are a must! And don’t forget some fresh Florida orange juice! You might also want to check out the Disney Princess Cookbook for the little princess in your life.
Don’t feel like cooking?  Google restaurants in your area that are themed with your Florida city in mind. You might be surprised.  Get some takeout and bring it back to the oasis you’ve created.

Your Staycation Album

Whatever you do, don’t forget to take photos of your vacation! The typical traveler takes at least 20 photos per day.  You can stage them to truly appear like your destination or you can show your creativity and showcase what you’ve done to make everything happen. It might feel silly at first but it’s part of the experience. Afterwards create a staycation album to look back on later when home feels like home again.