Around the World: Are You Ready for a Staycation?
Regularly scheduled escape from stress is essential these days, and one easy and affordable way to seek relief is the staycation. What is it? A hometown tourism itinerary that you set for yourself, including a hotel stay, dine around and visits to local tourist attractions that satisfy your special interests.
Many people welcome visiting family and friends because they know that when they show their guests around town, they’ll also get to see their hometown’s famous sites – those places of interest that they ride past on their commute to work. But, it’s unnecessary to have to have visiting out-of-towners as an excuse to enjoy local sights and attractions. Hometown tourism is always good fun and good value.
Proceeding as though you are a local tour guide, design an itinerary that covers your town’s basic bests and mixes in some special interest features that skew to your personal hobbies, professions, curiosities and passions. You will have a thoroughly good time rediscovering your own neck of the woods.
In times of restrained travel budgets, hometown tourism is an excellent way to escape everyday humdrum and stress. You can make plans for yourself or assemble a group of convivial friends to treat yourselves to a dream vacation in your own city.
Does that sound like a silly idea? Well, it’s not. Not at all. Just think about it, and you’ll see the benefits.
Right from the start, hometown tourism is an appealing solution for getaway vacationers who are budget challenged. You eliminate airfares and other big transportation expenditures that are the major cost boosters of most vacations.
If you really want to have the feeling of full escape from your daily routine, you can usually find discount deals for local hotel or motel nights, or check into an affordable bed and breakfast, or make luxury lodging your main hometown tourism splurge.
Or, if you’re really strapped for cash, you can crash at your own home.
As for your daily itinerary, you can arrange a cost-effective tour that takes you to your town’s premiere attractions and allows you to discover hidden treasures that you never knew were in your neck of the woods or you can go on a hunt to rediscover nostalgia-filled places that you haven’t visited for ages.
But whatever your particular approach to accommodations and itinerary, it is essential that you treat your hometown staycation as though you were really taking a trip to someplace ‘foreign.’ Approach all the planning as though you were actually from someplace else and were traveling to your home town as a foreigner, a stranger, a regular visiting tourist who doesn’t know exactly what he or she will find. Make it a new experience, an adventure!
That means doing quite a bit of research, which should begin with a phone call to your local tourism authority or convention and visitor bureau, and online browsing their Websites. If travel counselors are available, ask to speak with them. It’s up to you whether or not you tell them you’re from their town, but I’d suggest that you approach them as though you’re not.
Order an array of brochures about the local attractions, including museums, entertainment venues, sports events, special shopping and dining opportunities, as well as parks, plazas and nearby nature preserves. You should also check local tourist office Websites, following their links to special attraction websites, always checking along the way for discount coupons and package deals. For example, a hotel may be offering complimentary admission to a special exhibit at a museum, or include theater tickets or coupons for discount shopping with the price of your room. Or the tourist bureau may be selling a booklet of discount coupons that will save you a bundle of bucks in individual fees for admission to museums, guided bus tours of the city or special interest tours covering local history or architecture or gardens, and tours by bus, and more.
Once you’ve assembled all your brochures and maps and coupons, make a list of the attractions that most appeal to you and will fit within your budget restraints. Select a good mix of places you’ve already seen and favor, and those you’ve always wondered about but never visited. And look for appealing oddities that you’d never even heard of before -- museums dedicated to cats or to shoes, for example, or historical societies with all sorts of memorabilia on display. For each place on your list, note the amount of time you will need to experience it fully.
Then finalize your itinerary and budget(with a little bit of a slush fund included) for your one or several day trip .And, commit to sticking to the itinerary and the budget.
For the first thing to do upon your “arrival: in town, you might want to take that guided day or half day bus tour to get your bearings, and a fresh new overview. This is a wonderful way to put yourself into that tourist frame of mind
If you live in a big city, pick one area or neighborhood to tour. In New York City, for example, Staten Island is an excellent tourist destination. You get there by ferry, which costs next to nothing but clears your head with fresh air and resets your state of mind for adventure.
When you get to Staten Island, the neighborhood around the dock features a quaint collection of wooden frame or brick homes and storefronts, and a rich variety of inexpensive but excellent ethnic restaurants. There’s also a ground transportation hub where you can board public busses that will take you around the island, dropping you off at historical sites and at the famed Staten Island Zoo. Staten Island is a perfect day trip for New Yorkers who set out to tour their own city.
If you live in a spread out city where attractions might be miles from each other, you can choose a theme for your tour. In Los Angeles, for example, you can plan an itinerary covering art deco buildings that are scattered throughout various neighborhoods. Ask for brochures or do some research in the library to find out where the most interesting buildings are located.
Chicago, Houston and other culturally sophisticated cities have clusters of museums that can be the focal point of hometown tourism. It’s easy to immerse yourself in wonderful museums, one after another, for a week.
If your home digs are rural, set out to explore a nearby national park you’ve never visited, planning a hike, signing on for one of the park rangers’ guided tours or camping out. If your hometown is on the coast, you can find a local beach that allows you to camp out or find an affordable beachfront bed and breakfast.
Or find out if there’s a historic route you can trace, such as the transcontinental Lincoln Road, with its remarkable trail of treasured Americana. Don’t know the Lincoln Road? It’s fabulous for touring. And, most likely, there’s a section of it traversing your eighborhood. Looking for ‘the Lincoln Highway’ on the Internet would be a good way to initiate your research for a staycation in towns located across the nation, all the way from New York City’s Times Square to San Francisco’s Lincoln Park. And, if the Lincoln Road doesn’t traverse your town, you can surely find another stretch of historic highway that does.
You can schedule a staycation three or four times a year and return to your daily life fully refreshed. If you take several staycations per year, you won’t be tempted to cram everything into one short ‘trip,’ which could make your ‘escape’ quite stressful. Keep a scrapbook or journal to remind yourself how much fun you’ve had.