A staycation is a stay-at-home vacation.
It has been said that it was invented by the writers of the Canadian TV comedy show Corner Gas in an episode broadcast in October 2005. However, the word appeared in print a little earlier, in an article in the Washington Post on 4 August 2005: “The city empties out. The commute becomes bearable. It’s the perfect time for a ‘staycation,’ to dig in those heels and enjoy the comforts of home: 300-thread-count sheets, stainless outdoor fire pit, well-stocked fridge.”
Staycation is a blend of stay-at-home and vacation. It was probably generated from the rather older daycation for a one-day vacation, a day-trip, which is recorded in that sense from 1986; that word has also appeared, usually as day-cation, in the sense of a one-day special educational event (in which the second element is instead a truncation of education).
After a couple of appearances in 2007, the word became significantly more visible from March 2008 onwards, largely because of financial concerns as the economy weakened and fuel prices increased. Other reasons were given in the Washington Times on 23 March: “Increasing concerns over the environment as well as the desire for more family time add to the staycation’s popularity.”
The word has since become established enough to be added to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary in July 2009.
It has become known in other countries, too, including the UK. This is mildly surprising, because vacation in British English is a formal term used mainly for institutional breaks between terms by universities and the legal profession. People take holidays. However, the term is understood and exposure to the American sense through films and television has clearly helped staycation to be accepted. In the UK, the sense has evolved to refer to a holiday taken within the country rather than travelling abroad.
A person taking a staycation is sometimes called a staycationer.
It might not be a coincidence that big numbers are coming out to the free community shows this summer, the year of the so-called “staycation,” thanks to a rough economy. A bunch of small trips to the local park for some free music and a family night out may fill in nicely, to a degree, for traditional, more expensive outings.
Oakland Tribune, 10 Aug. 2008.
A staycation extravaganza, Butlins has managed to overcome its image problem with the British public.
Daily Mail, London, 22 Jul. 2009.