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Natural Awakenings Charlotte

Simple Staycations

Jul 03, 2011 06:35PM

by April Thompson

Getting away from it all doesn’t have to mean physically getting away. Staycations—vacations taken close to home—can save on the money, time and stress of travel, and also provide a fresh outlook on your home turf. Here are a few tips to help plan your dream staycation.

Check out. A vacation is a respite from dailiness—even if you simply declare a special day off at home—so exercise the discipline to stay away from your office, housework and the rest of your routine. Plan for a staycation as you would an away vacation: Take care of any bills or chores that can’t wait and put an appropriate message on your voicemail and email. Allow an hour each morning to check email and other messages if necessary, but then make family members accountable to one another; anyone who violates the “no smart phone use after 10 a.m.” rule has to treat the others to ice cream.

Set a budget. Calculate how much you saved on airfare, hotel and other traveling incidentals, and then give yourself half of that amount to spend, guilt-free, on spa splurges, catered lunches or concert tickets; after all, you know you’re still saving money.

Run away from home. Shake up at-home routines by booking affordable or free local lodging via community travel websites like or, or seek out a local home swap with a fellow staycationer via

Order the usual. How do you like to unwind and recharge? Model your staycation after the best vacation you ever took. If learning rejuvenates you, take a crash course in pasta making from a local culinary school, or enroll in a summer camp to pick up skills in a new sport. For outdoorsy types, scout out a nearby county park to camp in and learn about native flora and fauna. If you’d rather just hang out and be lazy, hide the alarm clock, perhaps enjoy a movie marathon and order three squares of takeout.

Introduce some surprise. Open a map of your city or county, close your eyes and pick a point. Google the spot you landed on to see what interesting places are nearby. Or, expand your horizons by exploring a neighborhood or nearby town you’ve never visited.

Look through another lens. Challenge yourself to see your world of familiar places anew by going on a photo safari in your own neighborhood, taking photos of local characters, landmarks and never-before-noticed details. Give a prize to the family member who captures the most unidentifiable neighborhood objects (UNOs) on camera.

April Thompson is a freelance writer in Washington, D.C. Connect at

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