by Catherine Breese
When the economy tanked a few years back, some optimist dreamed up the “staycation”–a break from work in which you stayed in your hometown and enjoyed all it has to offer in lieu of traveling. Over the past Memorial Day Weekend we decided to try our hand at the staycation. A real vacation requires saving, planning, and preparation. A staycation requires little, other than willpower. Rules we followed: 1. try something new, 2. no leaving town, not even to the next town over, and 3. have vacation-like fun. Pretty simple really.
Let me confess that I am convinced that the staycation is a flawed concept. Only a fool believes that you can have the same kind of fun and relaxation at home that you can someplace else. Remember sleepovers when you were a kid? It was far more fun to go to someone else’s house, eat someone else’s food, and be yelled at by someone else’s mom than it was your own. Plus, when you travel, you get to put aside your daily agitations. Nobody organizes closets or scours the kitchen sink on vacation. On a staycation you have to pretend that normal household chores do not exist. And you have to act like mediocre food at mid-priced restaurants in your own town is somehow as fun and delicious as mediocre food at a different mid-priced restaurant at, say, the beach. It’s not.
The vacation-simulation-like highlights of the weekend included antiquing, bike riding, kayaking, a formal dinner, an uninspiring meal out, and a failed museum tour (The Glencoe Museum was closed–yes, closed, on a holiday weekend. Picture of the exterior is below). The highlight of the weekend was “fancy Sunday” in which we put on our best clothes and ate upscale food (lobster bisque, caviar, etc.) from our antique china in our very own back yard.
Pros of the staycation:
● don’t have to worry about bedbugs or the unhygienic practices of other travelers
● no long car ride; no unpleasantries with NSA-trained airport security people
● don’t have to unpack your suitcase when you return
● much lower cost (unless you go wild at the mall or on Amazon.com)
● don’t have to worry about forgetting your toothbrush or losing something valuable
● all the comforts of home
● no pool
● no room service or cleaning service
● hometown rather disappointingly boring–some shops in Radford, Virginia, actually closed on Memorial Day weekend. I am reminded of a few John Denver lyrics that go “Saturday night in Toledo, Ohio… well I spent a week there, one day. They roll up the sidewalks precisely at 10, and the people who live there are not seen again.”[i]
● nothing to brag about when you return to work
Winner? Vacation—by a mile. Hey, don’t get me wrong. It was a fun weekend. But it lacked the sparkle and excitement of going someplace new. Yes, the bathrooms were cleaner and the cocktails were much cheaper (and properly mixed), but the sense of adventure just wasn’t there. Vacations are worth saving for. Staycations are for people that have to take them.
[i] Oh, don’t even try to make fun of me because I know some John Denver lyrics. Everyone knows “Country Roads” and I’ll bet a buck you can sing the first line to “Annie’s Song” as well.