National Plan for Vacation Day was on January 26, and while it is recognized on that one day, it is celebrated throughout the year. Why? Simply making travel plans, even far in advance, can brighten your mood. In an August 2020 survey from the Institute for Applied Positive Research, 97 percent of respondents said they felt happier when they had a trip planned. So, let’s plan a vacation Santa Monica and why not with flexible rates and cancellations that are there for the taking.

Sponsored by the U.S. Travel Association (USTA), the goal of the campaign is to get Americans to use their vacation time and enjoy some much-need relaxation, especially following the last 12 months.

According to USTA, COVID-19 has affected all aspects of everyday life, compelling Americans to change their behavior, including around travel, to accommodate health and safety protocols and other restrictions in an effort to slow the spread. However, one noticeable trend remains the same: “Americans still are not using their vacation days. American workers left an average of 33 percent of their paid time off on the table last year.”

All too often, it’s not just time but also money that may prevent Americans from vacationing. That doesn’t have to be the case for Santa Monica residents with our desired location allowing for family outings, walks, picnics, tour your own city by foot or wheels, and explore our parks, local art galleries, learn more about our history, and check out that restaurant you have been meaning to try. Even more ideas with our 100 free things to do in the City listed at https://www.santamonica.com/100-free-things-to-do-santa-monica/

Several options also exist to safely use personal vacation time during the week when costs are usually lower for the day, night or more right here at home.

To fully immerse in the spirit of Santa Monica, locals can stay close by and take advantage of the annual “Santa Monica Extra Bedroom” program now through March 31, 2021, where residents can explore the city that they love from a different viewpoint. Imagine waking up during your own relaxing hotel staycation in your own neighborhood or just steps from the ocean, the Santa Monica Pier, Main St., Pico Blvd., Montana Ave., and the Third Street Promenade. Relax and take it all in, enjoy the moment and this place.

While discovering Santa Monica from the perspective of a visitor in your own city, locals should feel safe celebrating a vacation with the pleasant and sunny weather. Outdoors is where most restaurants and shops are still offering services and they need our support more now than ever. Extra precautions have been put in place to keep everyone safe so please, make purchases or purchase gift cards at your local favorites if you want them to survive through this very difficult time.

In an abundance of caution and care, Santa Monica launched the Santa Monica Shines COVID-19 Assurance seal program. To date, 12 of the hotels participating in the Extra Bedroom program have already earned the Santa Monica Shines COVID-19 Assurance seal and all LA County COVID-19 guidelines are strictly enforced including Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows, Hotel Casa del Mar, JW Marriott Santa Monica Le Merigot, Le Méridien Delfina Santa Monica, Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel, Santa Monica Motel, Sea Blue Hotel, Shore Hotel, Shutters on the Beach, The Georgian Hotel and Viceroy Santa Monica. To see all businesses that have earned their seal visit https://www.santamonica.com/santa-monica-shines-assurance-program/.

The Extra Bedroom program offer also extends to family and friends when space and social distancing can be a challenge. Also, perfect for gift-giving, Santa Monica residents can show valid proof of ID to receive the special Santa Monica hotel deals at more than 26 participating hotels listed at https://www.santamonica.com/extra-bedroom/. To receive the discounted rates – some up to $300 off – mention the program while making the reservation over the phone. Rates are subject to availability and blackout dates may apply. Stop by and mention the program at any of the three Santa Monica Visitor Information Centers to receive 30 percent off most merchandise at the Main Visitor Information Center, 2427 Main Street; Visitor Information Kiosk, 1400 Ocean Avenue; and Pier Shop and Visitor Center, 200 Santa Monica Pier.

Each of us by buying local keeps dollars in Santa Monica’s economy! For every $10 spent at a Santa Monica business, up to $7 stays in the community and is reinvested to support local schools, parks and community services. To help you buy local and explore your beachside city, resources are available on how to travel responsibly; hotel, dining and retail safety measures; a personalized vacation planning tool; discounts at Santa Monica businesses; KCRW playlist; and more at www.santamonica.com/shines.

USTA states that 63 percent or more than six in 10 people feel that they desperately need a vacation. If you live in Santa Monica, you’re already halfway there to enjoying a great and hassle free getaway, world-class dining, shopping, and fun and sun at the beach. Take a look at how you could spend your time at santamonica.com.