Thursday, December 1, 2016

My Staycation Box - Review

According to movies, according to TV, according to our friends, having cancer means we are supposed to have a "bucket list."   On that bucket list is all the things we should have done when healthy but didn't.  For example - travel. Travel is a big one and most people, when they hear about our diagnosis, immediately suggest that we take a trip to relax and get away.  

The one thing they forget is that when you have cancer - you are sick.

It's true that when you are newly diagnosed you may still feel well, but you simply don't have time to hit the beach, with the constant doctor's appointments and the tests.  You can't take a relaxing trip when you have four doctor's appointments a week.  Later, you will be in treatment.  Chemo, radiation, surgery - whatever it might be, you often aren't feeling up to par and don't want to waste money to sleep in a hotel as opposed to home.

Travel is not a simple task for somebody who finds it hard to get up to go to the bathroom, who sleeps 14 hours a day, and who has discomfort when putting dishes in the dishwasher.  And, don't forget that we likely have low white blood counts that make us susceptible to disease (airplanes, ick), low red counts that make us anemic (meaning an extra 3 hours of sleep a day), surgeries that make us unable to use an overhead compartment. (Try to get the flight attendant through the crowd to help you). Insurance, expenses, chemo, and surgery schedules all get in the way of travel as a bucket list item. Not to mention, most of us don't want to get sick or have a problem requiring hospitalization while in a foreign country.  

Try to say "constipation" in Russian.

The truth is, for most people newly diagnosed with cancer, travel will suddenly become a mountain to overcome rather than an enjoyable way to relax, and that bucket? Well, it will stay full.

Still, the desire to go to exotic locales lives in all of us. Including me.  I have been on chemo for 7 years now, and cannot imagine being able to go someplace out of the US.  If I do travel, which is rare, I have to plan trips between medication refills, chemo infusions, during times I have hopes of feeling normal (which is a rarity these days), and I stay within my time zone. Still, I dream of European cities and exotic beaches.  So imagine how excited I was to find a new subscription box that can give me a taste of travel without having to leave my home.  Better than that - it is a perfect gift for somebody newly diagnosed with cancer.

So what is it?

It is a subscription box called My Staycation Box.  If you don't know what subscription boxes are, you are missing out.  You pay a monthly or bimonthly fee (in this case, only $40.00) and a box full of goodies based on your interests is automatically sent to you.  There are many categories - I subscribe to two make-up boxes that let me try new things in the land of make-up,  and an art box that gives me new tools and an art project to play with. In the past I also have gotten scrapbook boxes but I was getting too much paper to deal with.  I have given ones as gifts - a stepdaughter got new socks each month, a son got Japanese candies.

The bottom line is that subscription boxes are a really fun way to treat yourself or somebody else with a surprise.

 And now there is a travel-based one for those who can't travel, which is most of us sickies, called "My Staycation Box."

I was sent one to test out, as it is brand new, and I have to say, I adored it and can totally see the potential. The woman who is starting the company had a mother with cancer, so she understood the desire to travel without the ability.   Of course, you don't have to be sick to enjoy it but for my readers it's perfect.  With the contents inside, you can make a fun travel day right at home, and give the gift of laughter and a foreign place without ever leaving home.

We all know that when we are first diagnosed, we want to be anywhere but where we are, and this My Staycation Box can help dream your life away, along with a little help with some friends.

So what is in it?  I was sent their first box, which was Jamaica.  There is a different place every time, the next one is Italy.

Here is my little trip to Jamaica:

Wait.....First, let me show you the outside of the box.  It is immediately relaxing, isn't it?

The top of the box


Your destination for the month

So, what is inside to help you on your journey?

When you open it up, right on top is a Jamaican Flag.

The flag of Jamaica

As a clever touch, the inside tissue paper is made up of the flag colors.

Then there is a postcard that tells you about the place you are going to "travel" to.  However, it's not a normal postcard - on the back, it tells you how best to use the items in the box, or "Plot Your Staycation." There is also information on the next staycation as well as information on how to win a Staycation of your own using social media.

So here's how my husband and I plotted our trip:

Daydream time

I sat and read the guidebook, and dreamt of the spot I'd go if I was there.  There are plenty of photos and destinations that help your imagination along.  In the background my husband put on some reggae, which came in the box.

Next up, snack time. I continued reading the guidebook while having a few plaintain chips (delicious) and continued to listen to  Jamaican singer Bob Marley on CD.  More than 20 years ago I spent time in Jamaica, and Reggae is the sound of the island for sure and Marley is the King.

Plaintain Chips and a CD

Now that you have the music going and had a snack, it may be time to take a relaxing bath to get ready for dinner.   I took a nice hot bath while my husband prepared our dinner.

Jamaican Hop Sop and Jamaican Rum Punch Room Spray

Red Stripe Beer is big in Jamaica - I think it's the official drink of the island.  But sending beer is probably not legal so My Staycation Box found the next best thing - beer soap!  It is made from Jamaican Hops, but I'm happy to say that it smells more floral than beery.

After you are refreshed from your tub, spray your house with some Rum Punch Room Spray and have the smell of the islands in your house.
It's not Jamaica without Jerk Chicken!

What is for dinner?  You know it - Jerk Chicken!  It couldn't be easier, which my husband was grateful for.  Just pour the sauce over the chicken and serve with steamed rice and a veggie.  It was very good and brought back my days of eating Jerk everything Jamaican style.

I was warm, full, clean, the house smelt good and I had a relaxing day thinking about beaches and islands.  Cancer was not on my mind.

So there you have it - a mini-trip to Jamaica within the comfort of your own home.  This is truly a fun way to surprise a friend who has been diagnosed and cannot get away.

The full box

One of the most frequent questions I get is "What do I give my friend/mother/sister who has just been diagnosed with cancer?"  I often say "you."  You are what they want, some normalcy and some laughter.  They want to get away from cancer and have an enjoyable moment as their life has been turned upside down.  

A kit like this is a starter to an entertaining day that you can create with somebody who is currently over the moon with worry and fear.  I can honestly recommend this box as a super fun activity, whether you have cancer or not.  But don't stop with the box if possible.  On the day it arrives, go over, put on music, plan your "trip"' together and if your kit contains a meal-base, use it.  Take this trip with your friend or family.  

If you are far away though, and of course, many of us are far from friends and family, sending a box like this is something your sick friend can look forward to receiving while they undergo cancer treatment. I can't tell you how much I appreciated the little gifts and things I received back in those early days that let me know people cared.  Give them their own "bucket list."  This is a thoughtful gift they will appreciate and look forward to.

Truly, what we cancer patients want and need most when we hear that fearsome diagnosis is distraction and friends.  This MyStaycationBox offers both.

This would also be a great gift for that non-sick but hard to shop for person on your list.  As a cancer blogger, most of what I say has to do with how a cancer patient would react.  But I do believe a travel-lover would like this box, or an elderly person or a young person who hasn't decided where to go.  It's just an all-around cool thing.

Next trip - Italy!  You will need to order by December 18th to get it in January.  (If you want to give it as a Christmas gift, just wrap up a postcard of Italy (or Italian wine with an instruction not to drink it) and on the back, write that their gift will arrive mid-January.  Say no more and leave them guessing!)

My readers get a coupon code, with 10% off the first subscription to My Staycation Box.  The code is AnnSentMe10.  Just go to and click on the shop tab.  There is also an option to purchase a one-time box.

Have fun. If you try it, let me know!

Just to keep things real, I want to share that I did not paid for this review, nor do I get anything for the coupon code.   I only got the items in the box so I could tell you about them. So you can trust - as always - that I will never say anything that I don't believe.