For most of us, finishing college means saying goodbye to the long weeks of summer vacation filled with blissful days of sunshine and free time. But even if you’re spending your weekdays cooped up in an office, you can still make the most of your summer weekends. Here are eight ways to transform your summer weekends into miniature summer vacations.
1. GO TECH-FREE.
Put your computer away, turn off your phone (or at least put it on vibrate), take off your watch, and, above all, don’t check your work email. The best way to make the weekend feel a bit longer is to live in the moment and put the workweek—and its accompanying worries—behind you.
Summer hours stretch even longer when we free ourselves not only from emails and work concerns, but from time itself. Let yourself lose track of the time during weekend days: Sit in the park, read a book, or spend time with friends without checking your devices and the weekend will feel much freer.
2. CHECK OUT YOUR CITY’S OUTDOOR EVENTS.
Most cities come to life in the summer. From free outdoor concerts and movies at night to farmers markets or athletic events during the day, there are plenty of free or inexpensive outdoor events to choose from, no matter your interests.
Research local event listings online or in your local newspaper to find out what’s going on. Or, go straight to the source by checking out your local park’s website to see what kind of under-the-radar events they’re hosting. Many public parks host free exercise and yoga classes, events for kids, arts and crafts, and more during the summer, but they’re not always well advertised.
3. GET OUT OF TOWN.
You don’t have to set foot on a plane to feel like you’re on vacation. Instead, learn a little bit more about the world outside your town. Does it have a world-famous waterfall you can hike around? Perfect cliffs for rock climbing? A river to kayak on or lazily float down? Find organizations in your area that host hikes, camping trips, and other outdoor activities, or plan your own.
4. MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR BACK YARD.
Whether you have a sprawling back yard or a little patch of dirt, make the most of it. Purchase lawn furniture, outdoor lighting, and some simple decorations to turn your yard into a little oasis. Plant a garden outside or, if you don’t have a yard, turn your windowsills into an indoor garden. If you’re a newbie gardener, visit your local nursery with a few photos of your yard and work with the employees there to create a gardening plan.
5. INVENT A SUMMER COCKTAIL.
Inventing your own delicious summer cocktail is easy and fun. Experiment with different kinds of ice (cubed, crushed, blended), fresh herbs and fruits, and a range of liquors to create a summer cocktail that’s refreshing and unique. Visit your local farmers market and choose the freshest fruits, then design a cocktail around them. If alcohol-free drinks are more your speed, experiment with different lemonade and iced tea infusions. Mint, cucumber, melon, and berries all go great with lemonade, while berries, fruits like mangos and peaches, mint, and basil are best for iced tea creations.
6. SAVE CHORES FOR WEEKDAYS.
As much as possible, schedule your grocery shopping, cleaning, and other chores for weekday mornings and evenings—while it might make the week a little more strenuous, you’ll be happy to wake up on Saturday morning with a full day of freedom ahead of you.
7. MAKE PLANS IN ADVANCE.
Make a list of all the activities you’d like to take part in this summer (from more complicated, planning-intense activities like beach trips and hikes to simpler events around town, like museum visits or bike rides). To make sure you’re able to pack everything in, start by scheduling activities that involve more extensive planning then fill in the gaps with everything else you’d like to do. If you’re more of a homebody, design your own reading list, or collect some recipes you’d like to try; if you’re a fitness fanatic, develop a summer workout schedule that incorporates as much outdoor exercise as possible.
8. DO NOTHING AT ALL.
Sometimes, the best way to feel like you’re on a true vacation is to do nothing. If you’re feeling stressed and want to fully relax, give yourself a day (or a whole weekend) off. It can be hard for us to turn off the part of our brain that wants to be constantly productive, but remind yourself that being on vacation is all about doing whatever you want—even if that means doing nothing at all.