Making the most out of your staycation
With the economy in the toilet and Obama and Biden jiggling the handle, most Americans are understandably reluctant to leave home for their summer vacation. Here are my tips for making the most out of your summer vacation if you decide to make it a staycation:
Lie. Do not, under any circumstances, tell anyone at work that you are not going anywhere for your vacation. When people know you’re not going anywhere, they feel no guilt about calling you and dragging you into their work-related mess. Make up a familiar, plausible, unexotic vacation and stick to it. Follow every one of those tips:
- Familiar: The destination should be a place you are familiar with. A family or friends place; a play you’ve been before. Somewhere you can talk about without putting your foot in your mouth.
- Plausible: “Really, you’re going to Phoenix? In August?”
- Unexotic: If you’re going to Bali, people want to hear stories, regale in the description of the food and the sunsets. If you went to Orlando, eh, nobody cares.
- Turn off the TV. This is perhaps the most challenging, but you’ve got to try. Turn off the idiot box, and for that matter, the internet delivery device. The point of a vacation is to unwind so that you don’t come into the office, snap and kill your coworkers. This benefits everyone by keeping insurance premiums down. If you sit on your couch and watch Matlock reruns for a week or two, you will be grumpy and pale when you get back, and nobody likes a grumpy, pale mass murderer. During a vacation, you may wake up around 9:00, take a shower and eat breakfast. So you start your day at 10:00. Let’s say you eat dinner around 8:00. That gives you 10 hours per day of sunlight and freedom. If you watch one movie (probably a movie with commercials that you’ve seen already), you’ve wasted 20% of that. If you watch a movie and a news program, you’ve lost nearly 1/3. It’s not worth it. If you must watch TV, only watch TV after dinner, when it’s dark out. (See our post about Vampire Survival Techniques [coming soon - ed.])
- Plan to spend some money. According to AAA, the average cost of a vacation for two adults in the US in 2008 was $244 per day, including lodging and meals. The purpose of a staycation, of course, is to save money, but let’s be reasonable. You are going to spend some money, even if it’s just on groceries. Develop a budget that fits your needs and try to live within it. When planning a budget, factor in what you spend in a normal work week, including gas and tolls, dry cleaning, food and drink (including coffee, snacks, and bottled water). You’ll be surprised how much you save by not going to work for a week. Use that money as the bare minimum for your budget. If you plan to be happy, at least double it. (You will, after all, still need to eat.)
- Do something out of the ordinary. Now that you have a budget, use it for something. Try to do things you haven’t done in your own area. There’s got to be a little restaurant in your town you drive past every day, but never went to (and not because of the numerous food poisonings). Go there for dinner or lunch. Go to the local zoo or a museum. See a local sports team. Watch a movie in IMAX. Pretend you are a tourist in your own town and see it with fresh eyes. What would you do if you really went to a different city? Rent a bicycle? Take a bus tour of a nearby city? Go horseback riding? Go to the mall and poke around like a teenager? Google your town and see what there is to do. You will be amazed at what a sheltered life you lead. This message brought to you by your local chamber of commerce.
- Eat like you’re on vacation. One of the perks of annual leave is eating like a king/queen. Don’t deprive yourself of that. Even if you are (as I am) on a diet, your metabolism will likely increase from your new, more active routine. Take the time to have a nice leisurely breakfast (use that waffle iron you got as a wedding present). Go to Cheesecake Factory at 3:00 for a late lunch (it’s the only time there isn’t a line out the door). Barbecue in the middle of the week, and not just hamburgers and hot dogs–try something exotic, like chicken. Go nuts, you deserve it!
- Cover your tracks. This ties back to point one: if you told everyone you went to Duluth to visit friends and a bridge collapsed in Duluth, or a tornado hit downtown, you might want to know about it. Use news.yahoo.com or news.google.com to check the day before you return or set up an email alert for breaking news focused on the city. It doesn’t hurt to know what the weather was like while you were “there” either. If you have to confess, it’s not the end of the world. So I stayed home. My plans changed. What are you writing a book?!?
- Hobbies/Moonlighting. If you have hobbies or a moonlighting adventure, you will have to decide whether this will be a vacation from those as well or whether you will be working full speed/half speed/double speed. If you run a blog and you want to make some wholesale changes, this may be the time. If, on the other hand, the blog has become more work than play, take a break or ask a friend to guest blog for you. As most bloggers will tell you, a vacation will often destroy your traffic, because once it leaves it doesn’t come back. Having an iPhone or blackberry with internet and the right aps goes a long way.
Well, I hope this was helpful. See you all in Duluth!