When you think of a vacation, chances are you’re thinking about some far-flung or exotic location. These trips can be fantastic, but planning a trip to the ends of the earth can also be fraught with complications and tend to take a lot of leg work. More often than not, planning a trip to a faraway destination requires plenty of lead time and some careful planning. You have to account for transportation once you’ve arrived at your destination, and you’re likely looking at a full day’s worth of travel time minimum to even arrive there. Then there is the quest to find lodging, research on everything from the best places to eat to potential safety concerns, and the seemingly impossible task of fitting everything you’ll need when you’re so far from home into a suitcase. These trips tend to be on the pricier side as well. I don’t say all of this to diminish the pure joy of a far-away trip, but rather to highlight the amount of time, money, and effort you should expect to put into planning one. However, there is another option for those of us who are craving a vacation but are perhaps light on the time or money needed to do so.
Let’s discuss for a moment the often overlooked and underrated staycation. IVHE has touched on this topic in the past, and it remains relevant today. Critics will likely scoff at the idea of taking time off to see things you could theoretically see every day, but when you carefully consider the staycation, it is actually quite a worthwhile endeavor. For starters, because you don’t have to sacrifice entire days to travel time, you can squeeze a local vacation into a weekend if you must, or simply enjoy that much more time relaxing. Because you aren’t splurging on plane tickets or gas, you’ll have some extra cash to play round with on your vacation. The extra change might mean the ability to extend your trip for a day or two, the chance to splurge on a nicer place to stay, or the opportunity to enjoy a few more nights of fine dining. Alternatively, this extra dough could afford you the ability to plan a vacation on a tight budget.
Think, too, about how many times you remark to your family, friends, or significant other, “We should really try that place” or, “Why haven’t we gone back there?” without ever seeming to find the time to follow up on your plans. For most of us, life can get in the way of exploration during the day-to-day, so there may be wholly unexplored parts of your local area that you are missing out on. The staycation gives you a chance to look at your local area in a whole new light. You may find hidden gems that become frequent stops for you in the future, but which you have spent years overlooking in the past. Taking a local vacation is the perfect opportunity for you to see your hometown through the eyes of a tourist, and you may gain a new sense of admiration for the place you have come to call home.
Being close to home has many practical benefits, as well. If you forget to pack something, there is no need to worry – you can hop in the car and grab it quickly! You won’t have to spend so much time on contingency plans, since you’ll be near enough that any emergencies that could crop up in your personal or professional lives can be dealt with. You may even be tempted to stay home for your staycation, but my suggestion would be to find a hotel or vacation home nearby instead. Often, the temptation to get caught up on work around the house can interfere with your relaxation if you remain too close to home. Plus, staying somewhere new can be just the opportunity you’ve needed to explore a part of the area that you aren’t as familiar with. A change of digs also really helps set the vacation mood, allowing your typical day-to-day worries to melt away for a time. Using a resource such as IVHE to find your temporary local abode can help you decide on the perfect place to play tourist.
There is still – and will always be – a place for the traditional, far-away vacation. However, the staycation deserves its due as well. If you feel that you have already thoroughly experienced your place of residence, you still needn’t go far for a great vacation. Chances are that there is a suitable destination within an hour’s drive from where you are now, which can afford you all sorts of exciting and novel experiences. If you still find it difficult to drum up inspiration for your local vacation, the internet is rife with articles, like this one from Go Green Travel and this one from Forbes, that give plenty of ideas to get you started. It is important to take a novel approach to planning your staycation – don’t simply take a week to stay at the Ramada a few blocks from home, eating at the same restaurants you always do or visiting old friends. To really make the most of your “trip” you need to seek out new adventures, meet new people (who you may one day come to call old friends), and explore what you’ve been missing. The important thing to remember is that you don’t need a total change of scenery to have a truly wonderful vacation.
Traveling to new and exotic locations deserves every ounce of the romanticism that it is given; it is a magical experience and has rightly captivated the hearts and minds of this world’s citizens since the time of Homer’s Odyssey. However, let us not forget the hometown heroes. The staycation has for too long remained a second class vacation; it is high time that we begin to consider this vacation underdog as a viable (and even attractive) option for so many reasons, not the least of which are that it is cost effective, can be done with ease, and requires a minimal time commitment. If you haven’t thought about taking a vacation from your everyday life right in your own backyard, you’re probably missing out on something special.Thank you to travel writer Emma Sledge.