Saturday, April 9, 2016

52 Weeks to a Simpler Life – Tip #29 – Take Some Staycations

Audio Version available - see player below

The recently coined word “staycation” has become so widely used that it was added to the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary in 2009. The earliest tracked use of the word dates back to 2003 and was coined by a Canadian comedian. It became a fairly common word in 2008 during the economic crisis that gripped the U.S. that year.

The word simply means, instead of planning and traveling somewhere for a vacation, one simply stays at home, saves the travel expenses and occupies the time doing any number of a wide variety of activities you either procrastinate about, gloss over or, simply, never thought about taking advantage of in your particular location.

Believe it or not, most of us bypass so many opportunities in our homes and, uniquely, “in our own backyards” similar to the concept described in the classic, short book, Acres of Diamonds, by Russell Conwell. Simply put, there are all kinds of “treasures” wherever you are. We all tend to take these unrecognized treasures for granted and don't even realize their existence.

Listen to the Audio Version: 

Acres of Diamonds Staycations

Let's examine some of the many possibilities of Staycations and the treasures in your “backyard” you may be overlooking.

First, is your own home. Remember how excited you were when you acquired it, whether it's a home you own or rent? It doesn't make any difference, it's home. But, after the novelty wears off and you get into your day to day routine, home is a place you hang your hat, eat a few meals, sleep and maintain, through a series of mundane chores. It's the same place you were initially excited about. The home hasn't changed. Your attitude has changed.

Let's just suppose you take your two weeks vacation from the proverbial “salt mine.” You stay at home and don't plan to do any of the routine, mundane chores. What could you enjoy doing in your home that you might enjoy doing at some distant vacation destination. You might sunbathe in your backyard. You might read some of the books in your reading list. You might spend time doing some hobby things you never get around to normally. You might do some sightseeing. You might exercise by riding your bike (or renting one to ride), walking briskly, having some picnics in the yard, at the pool or at a local park. You might meet some new neighbors and get to know them. You can add to this list. Think of things you never do normally that you'd do when you're at some vacation destination.

Second, some of the treasures in your “backyard” might include attending local concerts and theatrical events. You could explore the local museums and historical sites in your community and learn more about the community's heritage. You might do some people watching. Just pull up a park bench or a bench in the downtown area and watch the interesting parade of people.

Maybe there is a stocked lake or pond nearby where you could rent a boat and throw out a line and catch some fish. Perhaps there are restaurants you haven't tried, yet. Maybe the local movie theater has one or more of the movies you'd love to see, but never seem to get around to.

How about walking the streets of your neighborhood and catching up on the changes. Walking the downtown area and window shopping or going in to see what is actually in the stores. What stores are no longer there? What new stores have moved in?

Believe me, once you think about the possibilities, you'll be amazed. Simply treat your home, community and town or city the same as you would anyplace you might travel to visit. Your own local visitor's center and Chamber of Commerce can provide you more things to do than you might ever imagine. Outside visitors may know more about your town than you do. Strange, but it's most likely true.

Acres of Diamonds Mobile Staycations

Mobile Staycations? What does that mean?

As you're most likely aware, I am, essentially, a nomad. I don't have a fixed residence or home base. My primary residence is my personally, custom outfitted van, better known as “My McVansion.”

I'm far from alone in this mobile lifestyle. I have many friends all over the U.S. who live a very similar lifestyle. There are well in excess of a million people living various kinds of mobile, nomadic lifestyles. But, the staycation idea is similar for you as well.

Some full-time travelers, like me, have temporary base camps in one or more parts of the country at the homes of family members and friends. These are locations you may pull in and plant your feet for a short duration to make some modifications, upgrades and necessary repairs to your mobile homes (vans, motorhomes, travel trailers, re-purposed school buses, etc.).

You can take staycations when you are stationary at one of your base camps. It's a great time for the mobile set to stay put for a while and catch up on reading, writing, photo editing, exploring the local town, meet interesting people, etc. Just because you're a nomadic group of travelers doesn't mean you won't enjoy exploring the local museums, downtown, stores, catching some new restaurants, going to see some current movies and so on. The only real difference is that your backyard is not yours permanently. But, there are still lots of treasures to explore and find.

One especially nice advantage of being a vagabond and enjoying a mobile lifestyle is that you can make and call anywhere home for a period of time. Having wheels with a motor attached to them, in some form, doesn't mean you're constantly in motion and a moving target. Most of the nomadic travelers I know enjoy staying somewhere for a while and “calling it home” for as long as they choose to.

I particularly enjoy meeting up with friends somewhere in the country, perhaps, a national forest, free camping land provided by federal, state or local authorities or an economical campground. We might stay there for a few days, a week, a few weeks or possibly a month or more. A small community is formed of two, three, four or more individuals and couples.

This becomes “home” and everyone is on a short “staycation.” Everyone shares time together. There will be shared meals. Some may go hiking, biking or exploring the local region together. Yet, everyone has their own personal time for individual interests. Some may be working a local job to raise some additional travel money. Some may be writing books or blogs or producing podcasts or YouTube videos. Still others may just like relaxing and reading books, catching up on email or soaking in the beauty of nature all around them.

Staycations are not restricted to only those living in a fixed location. Today, I received an email from one of my traveling friends. He will be staying for at least a month in a specific location in New Mexico where he's focusing on eating healthy, exercising, losing some weight (working on health issues) and catching up on some writing projects. He'll be exploring the region he's in and enjoying his photographic hobby. This is his form of staycation.

I'll be meeting up with another friend in Albuquerque, New Mexico in June while his wife is off on an adventure with her sister. He and I will find a place or two to pull in, relax and do some local exploring. A staycation for us. There are several more of those planned.

A Major Consideration

There is one very major, important consideration when you plan a staycation regardless of whether you're in a fixed home location or a mobile “home” location. You're going to be saving lots of money. You're going to be very comfortable. You're going to actually enjoy yourself, possibly more than you may imagine. But . . .

You must NOT let anyone know you'll actually be staying home for your staycation. This means you can't tell family, friends, co-workers, business partners or anyone else you'll actually be at home. PERIOD!

Why is this so important? Because if any of them know you will be home, you can most assuredly count on unexpected and unwanted visits, calls asking you to get together with friends and family members and calls from co-workers asking you about work matters. They might even ask you to come in to work for “just a few minutes.” That can turn into hours or all day to help them resolve some issue. You're vacation plans are out the winder for that day. Perhaps it is the day you have reservations at a special day spa.

Remember, this is a VACATION, time off. Your time to do anything YOU want to do, not what others want to do with you, or worse yet, what they want from you.

So, pick a distant destination you'll tell everyone you're going to vacation at. Perhaps, it might be a place you've been to in the past so you're familiar with that place and you can drop names of restaurants, museums, events (you can check out on the Web) and other things of interest from that area.

Should you receive a call from any of the above, the best action is to not answer the call and let it go to voice mail. Tell everyone you're turning your cell phone off while you're “away.” But, if you should answer, tell them what a great time you're having at this vacation place you're supposedly at. With any luck, you won't run into any of them while you're enjoying exploring your town or region, blowing your cover.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line for Tip #29 of the 52 Weeks to a Simpler Life is to save money, stay home and rediscover your home and community. Enjoy whatever length of vacation time you have simply doing vacation things, but sleeping in your own comfortable bed (you won't really miss maid service).

Plan to do none of the routine things you do when you're home. Plan the staycation just as you would a travel vacation to some distant destination. Relax! See, learn and experience your own community like a visitor would. If you're a mobile vagabond, pick a place you want to stay for a couple weeks to a month or longer. Make it your home for that period. Explore it, experience it and enjoy it as if it were a home, yet, a new place (which it probably will be.)

Travel vacations are nice. However, they're usually expensive. They're seldom relaxing and stress free since you want to do everything you can within the very limited time you'll be staying at the destination. Going to the same place (beach, mountains, lake, etc.) to be with family every year is NOT a vacation. That is a family reunion and will virtually always be stressful and certainly not relaxing.

Live free and be happy. EH 

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