If you love travel then you likely get excited about upcoming trips, whether they’re two weeks abroad or a long weekend at the beach. But not everyone feels the same way when they’re forced to take shorter breaks or settle for a local locale (otherwise known as the dreaded “staycation”), which many people are doing these days as much for economic reasons as because of time constraints.
Whether traveling near or far, enjoy where you are. Photo: laudu
But fear not! Spending time somewhere within driving distance can be just as enjoyable as vacationing thousands of miles away—and you don’t have to worry about airport hassles to boot.
1. Pick a nearby place you’ve never been to but always wanted to visit. Often we overlook what’s practically in our backyard because we figure it will always be there or it’s too close to home to count as a vacation. Make it special by staying at a top hotel or resort, add spa time, and definitely book at least one romantic dinner during your stay.
2. If you’re returning to a destination, create a theme for your travels. On a recent trip to Philadelphia—a place my better half and I have visited many times—we decided to make it our mission to find the best Philly cheese steak in the city. (I’m writing this up for another publication so you’ll have to wait for the results.) We interviewed locals for their picks, and it was fun to compare notes and explore new neighborhoods we never would have otherwise. You can do this for food, museums, sporting events, the arts, architecture, just about anything.
3. Add a volunteer activity. Voluntourism is a hot travel trend that adds a memorable element to your trip, whether you’re helping with sea-turtle conservation, planting trees or working the line at a soup kitchen. Check with local resources, such as churches, environmental organizations and animal shelters for needs. Other resources: Habitat for Humanity and VolunTourism.org.
4. Use technology. For online research, start with tourism bureau Web sites, which often have the latest news on attractions, events and hotel deals. Other sites and blogs that can help make planning easier include the new Bing.com, making search more targeted; HopStop.com, navigating major U.S. transportation systems; and I’d be remiss if I didn’t include this blog’s parent, TravelMuse, which has POIs, articles, hotels and Web search to aid in research, and offers social networks for planning and itinerary building. Of course smart phones are all the rage for info at your fingertips, and GPS devices come in handy on road trips.
5. Stop calling it a staycation! If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, then I say the same applies to travel. Embrace your break and make it a vacation to remember.