Staycations – holidays at home

I haven’t been on a “proper” vacation for many years. My logic is why would I want to go to a place nicer than where I live – I’ll just yearn to live there and I would be miserable when I returned :).

The grass is greener?

How many times have you been on vacation only to find that what was in the glossy brochure with the doctored photos didn’t reflect the reality of the destination? What about all those tourist traps where everything is junky and expensive? It’s spend, spend, spend – a bit like pigging out on chocolate, it feels good at the time but leaves you feeling rather sickly afterwards.

We have this tendency to see the grass as being greener on the other side, whereas it can really be quite green where we are. For example, I spent 7 years in a coastal town and it was only as I was preparing to move interstate I decided to take in a few more sights around the area. I had quite a shock to discover what I had been missing out on during those years which made moving even harder. When we live in a nice place, we certainly tend to take it for granted.

Sometimes it is good to get away, far away, particularly if you live in a crowded city; but there is often this odd pressure on us to take vacations in distant and exotic places where great places to relax can be quite close to home.

A vacation can be an expensive affair, easily costing hundreds of dollars a day on fuel, food and accommodation. Those long trips also have an environmental impact; such as greenhouse gas emissions associated with the travel. A 1,000 mile round trip in a medium sized car will crank out around half a ton in carbon dioxide emissions. A 2,500 mile return flight, over double the emissions.

Additionally, there can be the stresses of packing, scheduling, then worrying about your home while you’re away; topped off by battling crowds of other tourists.

It’s not unusual for people to come back from vacation more strung out than when they left.

Staycations are “in”

Have you ever considered a staycation? Building on the locavore 100 mile diet concept, a staycation is just a holiday at or close to home – whether it’s bumming around the house or just exploring the area you live in a little more, with plenty of time to do so.

Even the holiday-obsessed British are turning onto the staycation concept, albeit due mainly to economic circumstances. In May 2008, the Times ran a survey and found that a third of respondents were switching their plans from a holiday abroad to a holiday in Britain.

Being a staycation tourist

So what should you do on a staycation? Well, the first point is not to do the things you wouldn’t do on vacation – such as mowing the lawn or painting the house. Your staycation needs to be fun! Attend to all that stuff before you go, just as you would do in preparing for a traditional vacation.

Become a tourist in your own town! Visit your local tourist information center and you may be surprised at what you discover to see and do on your home patch. There’s likely parks and museums you haven’t visited, restaurants you haven’t tried, perhaps taken in a local festival or two.

You don’t have to stay at home for it to be a staycation of course – there may be a bed and breakfast on the outskirts of town you would enjoy, a nice camping spot, maybe even a WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities Organic Farms or Willing Workers on Organic Farms) opportunity close by, which can be a great hands-on way to learn about growing your own food – and it won’t cost you a cent.

Perhaps you could even invest the money you save on taking an expensive vacation to make things a little more staycation friendly in your home – such as creating a private little slice of paradise in your own back yard.

While your staycation isn’t going to save the planet, it will probably save you quite a bit of money and it’s one of the many small things we can do that collectively do help reduce the impact on our environment.