Staycations became a thing about twenty years ago – and while, at first, the idea was cute today most of us think staycations are pretty silly. Who wants to bum around their hometown acting like a tourist?! We want to escape snooze-ville, not visit it’s museums.
And it’s even harder when “everyone” in our orbit flies off on a cool trip. Take last month. My niece visited Thailand to bathe elephants at an elephant sanctuary; a friend enrolled her 17-year-old son and herself in a French language class in Paris; and another friend took her 13-year-old boy to Portugal.
So, yeah, staying home and calling it a vacation? No thanks.
But then a short, yet truly annoying trip rolled my way. I’d envisioned an exciting few days with my family, and instead the trip turned into a hot-sticky, expensive, crowded mess. (To make matters worse, I’d accidentally reserved a true dump of a hotel.)
On the long car ride home I got to thinking, what precisely do I love about vacations? I mean, I’m a major cruise-lover, but getting on and off a ship along with the gazillion other laborious activities involved in cruising kept me off the seas of late. I adore beaches, but avoiding the sun’s danger by keeping my family marinated in zinc sunblock isn’t as much fun as it sounds. And I love exploring picturesque little towns, but I’ve learned that those darling little towns? Know they’re adorable, and charge not-so-cute prices for every little thing.
I’ve known for some time that a fabulous vacation is rooted in having successfully interrupted our daily routine. I simply needed to take a microscope to the idea of interrupting one’s life. Here’s the crux of it: say you cruise Alaska 365 days out of the year, and see brown bear after brown bear and orca after orca. Hard to believe, but these Alaskan wonders won’t hold your interest after your 400th brown bear.
Anytime you or I consciously interrupt our routines or patterns in a positive way, we get a jolt of excitement. To disrupt your routine in day-to-day life try using a new-to-you library, walking the dog on a different trail, or trying a new yoga teacher.
When it comes to vacationing, what do you love most of all?
I’ll go first. I love hotels. I love, love, love someone (other than me) cleaning up after me and the family. I love fresh towels appearing every morning. I love a gorgeous hotel bathroom. And I love lazing on a beautiful hotel bed with a stack of good books by my side. If we’re in a posh hotel, I love the little turn down that happens each evening.
If we’re in a more affordable hotel, I still love those fresh towels, and comfy beds, but I also love the “free” breakfast in the morning (when someone else makes coffee).
So, here’s what I’ve done for the past couple of years. When I need a break, but don’t have the time — or bucks — to swing one, I book a nearby Atlanta hotel with a pool (because my boys spell vacation p-o-o-l) for a weekend. I take my books, wine and snacks – and save a bundle on airplane costs, eating out and so forth. The husband and kids do something fun in downtown Atlanta while I chill at the hotel pool lost in a novel.
Ask yourself this: what do you love the most about a good trip?
- Is it a pool? Steal my idea and book a nearby hotel with a pool or pet sit at a house with one. (Check out TrustedHousesitter.com for great pet sitting jobs in your region. Or use the Next Door app to let neighbors know that you’d love to pet sit for them — if they have a pool.)
- Love dining out? Check out your town’s newest dining spot. Into scream machines, but bored with the theme park close to you? Make the hour drive to a new-to-you theme park and give it a whirl.
- If you’ve always been a beach freak, scope out the lakes in your area and become a lake-freak this year.
My point: we don’t have to spend a trillion dollars and travel far, far away to enjoy some quality chillax time.
I’ve noticed my friends are skilled at interrupting their routine without traveling to another time zone:
One friend books a pedicure at an awesome spa about an hour from her home. Booking one small service means she gets to chill in the spa’s amenities (pool, steam room, fitness center) all day long. (Yum, yum, yum.)
A neighbor loves to hang with her sister. When her pilot-husband travels for work, she invites her sister to spend a long weekend at her house. The sisters cook, drink wine, watch Grace and Frankie, sleep in, and have a slumber party blast.
Another friend adores rooftop bars. She says there’s something about the amazing view, jazz music and a colorful summer cocktail that takes her away.
What is a phenomenal way you interrupt your routine? Or in more exciting terms: what screams vacation!! to you?