Viva la staycation!

Segway TouristsI kind of hate the word staycation.  Maybe it’s because it’s been incredibly overused in the last few years of financial crisis. Or maybe it’s because what it implies is a little on the depressing side.  It gets you all excited with the “-acation” part of things, but then demands that you stay put.

Unfortunately, due to some poor pre-planning and a general laziness when it comes to reading the fine print, I will be taking my own staycation this year.  Not only do I have to cancel the cabin I rented on MDI, but I will also not be getting my deposit back (infernal no pets policy!).  Well, broke and homebound doesn’t exactly scream “best vacation ever!”, but sulking isn’t going to make it any better.  Neither will wasting my precious work-free days sleeping in and watching game shows.

So I’m grounded. There will be no airplanes, hotels, or charming cabins on lake.  No continental breakfasts, or needs for tiny toiletries. But that absolutely does not mean that I have to have a sucky vacation.  As always, the name of the game is creativity and can-do attitude.

Get in the spirit. Just because I’m staying home doesn’t mean that I’ll be doing chores, returning emails, or organizing my photo albums.  Sure, I’ll be wasting a full week’s worth of time that I could be spending being productive, but  productivity is for suckers. Pure leisure is what vacation is all about, and I will be using my seven days  for fun and relaxtion, and DEFINITELY NO LAUNDRY- with no exceptions.

Day tripper. Hotels can be exciting and all, but super expensive for what is essentially just a bed to crash into at the end of a day of hot and heavy adventure. That’s where the day trip comes in. All the excitement of traditional vacation travel, but significantly cheaper, and I actually get to sleep in my own bed at the end of the night.  Maybe I’ll hitch a bus to Boston for the day to wander the shops and museums, or convince a friend to jump into the car and just drive as far as we possibly can and still make it back to home base before sunrise.

Finding my inner child. Not every town is blessed with a Disneyland or 6 Flags, but usually a few hours to a few minutes drive to can yield a local water park, traveling carnival, or at least some passable mini golf.  Sometimes, being a grown up can be overrated, and I don’t ever want to stop appreciating the pleasures of eating cotton candy and funnel cake for breakfast, or enjoying a serious turn on the Slip ‘n Slide (or Crocodile Mile- whichever is handier). Sure, I’ll probably get a sunburn and a tummy ache, but if I don’t wind up with a fun hangover, I’m probably doing it wrong.

A Day at the Beach with KidsBeach bum. This is the sweatiest time of year, and I don’t know about your state, but Maine is definitely not big on the AC. When that one big summer heat wave hits, all I have in my arsenal is a highly ineffective combination of ice cubes, box fans and sucking it up.  And of course, there’s always the beach. It doesn’t really matter if it’s a river, lake, or ocean, as long as it’s wet and sandy, I’m all over it.  The beauty of the staycation is that I’ll be grabbing my beach hours during the week, while kids are stuck at day camp and their parents are stuck at work. With fewer people to hog the prime towel spots and kick sand up into my business, I’ll have lots of quality inner tube time to float around with my trashy novel uninterrupted.

Hometown exploration. Especially considering that gas & even bus travel are far from free, it’s likely that I’m going to have to spend at least a few days of my staycation actually staying.  Now I’ve lived in the same place for the last 10 years, but there are still things I’ve never seen or done in my fair city, and I think I’m going to dedicate an entire day to doing them all. New restaurants, out of the way parks and walking trails, paintball ranges… even sort of mundane things like stores that sell thing that don’t interest me, or supermarkets that I’ve never shopped at. Who knows, adventure could be lurking anywhere, and I’m gonna turn the town inside out to find it.

Tourist trap. Even if I should run out of unexplored nooks and crannies in my city, there are still ways to keep things interesting. I’ve been strongly considering spending a night on the town in tourist disguise. I’ll throw on some roomy khaki shorts, grab my digital camera, and hit the streets like it’s my first time. I can ask for directions to places I know, and take get strangers to my picture in front of every monument I can find.  Hell, maybe I’ll even go on one of those Downeast Duck Tours.

Hunker down.  Rest is an essential part of vacation, and while I don’t advocate spending an entire week lazing about, I do think I might dedicate one full day to tapping my inner sloth. There’s likely to be at least one rainy day on my schedule, so I’m planning ahead with an entire day’s worth of crappy movies, serious lineup of favorite snack foods, and a full 24 hours of quality sweatpants time.  Or perhaps I’ll just lock the doors, turn off my phone, and read an entire book from cover to cover.

The point is, I refuse to let my staycation bum me out. Staying home is not a prison sentence, as long as you don’t let it drag you down. Less money will not equal less fun unless you make it that way.