We’re at that point of the summer where it feels like it’s almost already over. Memorial Day is far behind us, the Fourth of July is in the books, Pioneer Days and Flambeau Rama are already looming, and before you know it, the kids will be heading back to school.
I am lucky enough to have fit in some vacation time already this summer, but I’ve talked to quite a few people who, with a distraught look on their face and an edge of anxiety in their voice, tell me they haven’t “done” anything with their summer yet. For these lost souls, I recommend a stay-at-home vacation, also known as a staycation. Our family has done this sort of vacation the past two years, and even though we don’t exactly stay home (we went to Iron County this year), it’s close enough.
One of the biggest advantages to this style of vacation is the potential thriftiness of it. I’d consider a staycation anywhere within reasonable driving distance of home, which means no airline tickets and probably only a reasonable expense in gasoline. Depending on where you’re going, who you’re going with, and what sort of activities you’ll engage in, you may also be able to save big on boarding accommodations. Maybe you can stay with a relative or friend, or pitch a tent. Hotels are generally too expensive, especially for families.
Consider also expenses on food and dining. Personally, my wife and I prefer to get a few meals cooked for us while we’re on vacation. Trading off the cooking duties throughout a normal work week takes its toll, so the last thing we want to be doing during a break from the ordinary is slinging up food for four. If we can, we typically choose to be a bit spendy on this category so we can afford a few nice dinners and some grub we don’t normally get at home. To do so, we just pre-plan breakfasts and lunches ahead of time. This year we had parfait fixings, fruit, and pastries for breakfast, and cheese, sausage, crackers, veggies, and dip for lunch and snacks during the day.
Of nearly equal importance to the financial aspect of going on staycation, is my second point — explore locally. Just how familiar are you with the region you live in? Do you know all the historic points in the county? Have you been down every trail and backroad? Have you visited every restaurant and museum? I know I haven’t. Taking a trip to a county park you’ve never been too before can be a memorable experience. I’m looking at you, Big Falls.
If you’ve got little kids like us, even hitting some playgrounds or beaches you’ve never visited before can be a big hit. On a recent trip to my sister’s home near the Twin Cities, the kids enjoyed a tour of a couple splash pads in the area. The kids had a blast playing with their cousins and it gave the adults a breather in the shade while the kids ran off some energy.
Back to the economical advantages, a staycation approach to vacationing also saves time. Because you’re not traveling as far, you’ll have less windshield time. Ideally you’ll also reduce the amount you need to pack, because you’ll be closer to home. Researching places you might like to visit near home is easier as well, since you’ll likely have some contacts with people that can help steer you in the right direction. Personal recommendations go further than any for-profit travel site ever could, and you don’t need to worry about tourist traps so much.
Finally, going on a staycation helps support the local economy. Imagine the money you spend at a local resort or campground as opposed to one in another country or even two states over. Those dollars stay nearby, and will be circulated back to other people who live and work near you. And if you live in Price County like I do, then you’re likely aware your spending power is greatly diminished the moment you set foot in any metro area. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather keep the value of my dollars as high as possible, and that means rural America, especially local rural America.
Staycation bonus: As an add on benefit to vacationing locally, if for some reason your plans are bust (maybe due to weather, bugs, or a kid who won’t sleep), you can cut it short and zip home for some ZZZs!