By Carolyn Erickson, Blogger of the Month for June
I’m writing about staycations this month but in real life my family is preparing for a rare “away-cation.”
We’re going to a little lake in an area of Michigan where both my parents grew up, and where I spent most of my summers when I was growing up. The lake was known to us kids as “Grandpa’s lake” because his farmland included a good bit of the shoreline.
After years of hearing me wistfully recount the cool summer days spent on Grandpa’s lake and weekends around the campfire, my husband and kids finally believed me enough to drive all the way there. We’ve been there twice so far and have been talking about going back since the last time we left, which was about 10 years ago if I remember correctly.
So this is our year. Months ago, we booked the small vintage cottage we love that’s right on Grandpa’s lake. It has no Internet or cell phone reception, but it has soft grass, bluegill, a rowboat, and a short dock that my daughter coined the “bumpy bridgy” when she was 2 years old. Not far down the road live my relatives, whom I haven’t seen in years.
But it’s going to take a lot of work to get there.
In fact, because it’s a 16-hour drive one way, we’ll be spending a total of four days on the road. Four days! Normally I love road trips, but thinking about all that time in the car and knowing that the work will be piling up here at home and that we’ll be spending copious amounts of vacation money on gas and motels instead of on fun things is stressful, not relaxing.
A staycation is looking better and better all the time. Anyway, all this planning has me thinking about the advantages of staying close to home:
- You don’t have to plan years or months in advance.
- You can spend your money on fun things like water parks or attractions or eating out rather than on airfare or gas for the car.
- The drive doesn’t have to be all about “making good time” and taking fewer and faster bathroom breaks. Ever try to get your business done quickly while holding the door closed in a gas station restroom that was clean the day it was installed in 1944?
- You might not even need a pet-sitter, plant-sitter, and house-sitter.
- Packing does not require an Excel spreadsheet and a degree in engineering.
- It’s simply less exhausting than a longer trip.
- You find out more about where you live. There is no other place like this state and this region.
The biggest advantage of a staycation, in my opinion, is that you’re appreciating what’s right in front of you.
One of these days you may not live in Kansas, or your kids may move away, and you or they will be telling someone, “Oh, the vistas that you can see in Kansas! There’s really nothing that compares — we’ll just have to plan a vacation there sometime.” And then the car will have to be packed, the hotel reservations made, the pet/plant/house-sitter will have to be arranged, the route will be mapped, the stops at questionable bathrooms will commence, and the work back home will pile up … just to get back to the place you used to see every day.
So, while I am looking forward to our time at the cottage and letting my now-teen daughter see the bumpy bridgy again, the idea of getting there and back feels like a monumental challenge, and the idea of visiting Coronado Heights or Wilson Lake or the World’s Largest Ball of Twine seems much more appealing. We’ll probably need a vacation after our vacation anyway, so maybe we can make one of those trips this summer.
I’d like your opinion. What makes a “vacation?” It’s probably different for everyone, but I thought of these things:
- Time off from work to rest and relax.
- Time to see or do something different.
- Time to spend daydreaming.
- Time to get away from stress.
- Having fun with people you like or love.
- Indulging a little bit when you normally wouldn’t (shopping, food, activities).
- A positive change in routine.
- A change of scenery.
Carolyn Erickson blogs at Wichita on the Cheap from her home in Wichita, Kansas. She is also an adjunct instructor at Butler Community College, a WordPress instructor for Pixel Time, and a consultant for a national blogging network. She’s the mom of a teenager, stepmom (not wicked) to two grown boys, mother-in-law to two great gals, and Grandma C. to two boys, with a third grandson on the way.