Cheap Travel – stay-cations

In the tuckshop queue at junior school we used to joke that for our vacations we were going to “Romania”.  (A deliberate mispronunciation of “Remain here”.)  Oh, how we laughed!  [*]

With the cost of  an exotic vacation now having become deadly expensive, staycations, where one remains either in your home town, or in your country, are becoming popular.  They need not be dull.  I guess that the old-fashioned term for this is “day trips”.  You have all the comforts of your own home, and you get to sleep in your own bed at night.

A nice house for a staycation
[Dr James Merriman House in Hilliard, Ohio, picture by Wdzinc, 10 July 2011]

The first advantage for stay-cations is that you are already at your destination!  No crowded terminals, long uncomfortable flights, or unfamiliar languages.  Since getting there and back accounts for most of the stress and a huge proportion of the costs, holidaying near home can be more relaxing, as well as cheap.  And you do not lose a day or two in travel at the start and at the end of your break.

Many people find it key to achieve the following before time off can be regarded as a vacation:

  • Break the tyranny of chores
  • Break from one’s regular routine
  • See new sights
  • Eat in new places
  • Do new and interesting things

Factors that can spoil any sort of holiday

  • Being unemployed (you do not have income)
  • A threat of unemployment (you are scared of losing your income)
  • Family debts (you already spent your money)
  • The price of fuel
  • The cost of transport

The common thread between all of these is a lack of funds, for whatever reason.  The good news is that one can usually still have a vacation on the cheap.

If you need a successful vacation at little or no cost then instead of money, you need to invest your time in doing some research and planning.  A number of people find this to be an enjoyable part of the break, and it can mean good quality time together for couples or families.

Though research is necessary, it need not be tedious.  There are very few places that are unremittingly dull.  If you live in such a place, and your research does not turn up anything fresh and new, then you will be left with no choice but to travel, unless of course you enjoy a very quiet holiday.  With stress in the workplace as high as it is, quiet relaxation is attractive to many more people.

Things to do, places to see

All too often you will find that the places in your home town that you would like to see are open and uncrowded when you are at work, so if you time your holiday at home correctly you will be able to take your time about seeing the sights, instead of feeling rushed.

The activities that you could indulge in depend on what is available locally at the particular time of year that you take your time off.  Local newspapers often print schedules of events.  A visit to your local visitor’s Information Centre may reveal things that you never knew were on the go.  Museums, galleries and other attractions may have special shows or events planned, particularly around the holiday seasons.

A number of hotels keep their event centres busy with shows or interesting activities.  Tasting various types of alcohol or alcohol/ food combinations is a perennial favourite.

If your town is host to a brewery you may find that there are organised tours, that culminate in sampling their wares.

You might want to try restaurants in a different part of town from where you normally eat, or a restaurant specialising in different cuisine.

Avoiding the traps

Chores, routines and the invasion of work can spoil ones stay-at-home holiday.  If you leave things to their own devices then it is almost an inevitability.  Planning is needed.

As far as chores go you have basically three options: leave them until after your break, schedule a specific and limited time slot each day, or swap around duties with another family member.  If you are saving enough money from staying at home then maybe you can get paid help.

To prevent your regular routines from taking hold, you need to plan temporary new routines while you are off work.  While you will not find it relaxing to run your schedule like a railway timetable, if you block out your day differently you may find it more pleasurable.  For instance, your bedtime may normally be constrained by the time you need to get to work.  When you are off duty perhaps your personal inclination is to go to bed later and get up at a corresponding time.  Or you would like to get up really early some days and watch the sun rise.

The ugly intrusion of work can be a problem.  While it may take a bit of acclimatisation, a lot of  people find that they do not truly relax until they drop off the network.  Some ideas for this include putting you mobile phone off, except for specific times each day.  Keep your Internet use to a minimum, so that you do not spend your time tracking events or data trends, your Facebook page, or Tweets.  The more you can reduce the number of things that you have to track mentally, the better able you will be to relax.

Have fun!


[*] The actual country of Romania has wonderful, unspoiled scenery and heaps of historical places and is worth a visit.  But that probably would not be a cheap holiday unless you already live there.

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