Want to avoid hours of traffic and expensive flights? Why not try viewing your own home from an outsider’s perspective. How many times have you heard people say they have never done the “fun things” in their own cities or that they only did the “tourist things” right before moving away? Well, this is your chance to vacation and save some money for your next big trip.
Using a guidebook
Start by getting a travel guidebook for your own town at the local library or buying one online. You can try a local bookstore, but it may be difficult if you don’t live in a tourist area. Use your guidebook the same way you would if you were planning a trip to a new place, but make sure to tactically avoid the things you’ve already done. You want this to feel like a vacation, so going to your usual haunts may not be the best plan. Use this as an opportunity to discover new shops, restaurants, and fun things to do. Is there a museum you didn’t know existed? How about a highly recommended restaurant from the guidebook you’ve never heard of? Make the experience new and exciting.
Stay at a local hostel or hotel
If you want less guidebooks and more spontaneity, consider staying at a local youth hostel or hotel? It will give you the feeling of being away without having to deal with the mess of traveling. Bring a novel by a local author and try to find the places in the novel. Try making friends with out-of-towners at the hostel and see what they plan to do. If the travelers are game, join the group and let them take you around the city. Going around with a group that is really seeing the area for the first time will keep you from getting caught up in the “still at home” feel of things.
Keep track of your staycation
Like with any trip, you should chronicle your activities! The fun part of doing it for your own city or town is that your records serve as a future guide of enjoyable things to do in your own area on a regular basis. The process of documenting your staycation may lead to new experiences in and of itself. Kate Pocrass has a great model for this in an interactive journal titled Side Walks: A Journal for Exploring Your City. Pocrass outlines how to organize your staycation with sections titled “prepwork” and “collect data.” While the preparedness sections are helpful, the best part of this text is the author’s suggestions on new ways to explore your area: “ Set out on foot. At each street corner, flip a coin to see which direction you should go next. If it’s heads, turn right. If it’s tails, head to your left” (28).
You don’t need to leave town to have a great travel experience this Labor Day weekend. Save your wallet by finding creative ways to gain new experiences.