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TBT: Staycations from Sea to Shining Sea

During the Great Recession, I wrote about the joys of taking staycations or finding cheaper ways of taking vacations out of town. During this pandemic and economic shutdown, it's time to take it a step even further and think of fun ways to take a vacation from the news and the grocery store hoardapalooza--without actually leaving home. Here are a few soul-soothing ideas for those with planned vacation time this spring and nowhere to go. Below that, enjoy my old Staycations post with ideas for affordable fun when we are finally able to play together in person again.

1. Have a luau or beach party. At home. Indoors. In any season, including (and especially) winter. We've been to a December luau in a trailer park (wearing our bikinis or other beachwear over warm winter clothes) and to a family beach party in the winter at a church. You'll need a great imagination and some crafts or toys, like mermaid tails and fishing games and tactile sand and beachy tunes and lounge chairs or towels. You can invite people who don't live in your home through Zoom or Google Hangouts or FaceTime, but require them to follow the dress code.

2. Go (actually) outside and look for signs of spring. Step out onto your balcony or porch. Walk out into your yard. If you can, get to a nature park and walk the trails, practicing safe social distancing. Listen to the birds. Kneel down and feel the soft mosses springing up. Hunt for bright crocuses and other early blooms. Spot mushrooms. Smell the swampy, mucky air. Ahhh!

3. "Travel" virtually. Watch travel documentaries. (YouTube has endless options for free, professionally created and homemade.) With kids, visit littlepassports.com to explore different countries. Choose one you'd like to explore further, and use a streaming service (libraries usually offer some streaming content for free to cardholders) to watch movies made or set in that country. Take it even further and try out a free online language course. (Again, libraries offer free options.) Read books about, or set in, your destination.

4. Go to a Facebook Live concert or a YouTube church service. Creative people are now figuring out ways to offer #quarantinecontent so that the music doesn't have to stop.

5. Put on your own play or musical performance at home. If you're stuck inside with a big family, entertain each other with skits and jam sessions.

6. Get out the good dishes and dine in style. Try out some fun or fancy new recipes. Wine and dine your housemates. Eat in the dining room with your best dishes and linens and some lit candles, or take it out on the patio in warm weather.

7. Go backyard camping. Pitch a tent. Build a fire. Get out the hammock. Enjoy a healthy dose of fresh air and sunshine and a change of routine without crossing your property line.

8. Have a spa day in your bathroom. Put on music. Light candles. Run a hot bubble bath. Do a face mask, a manicure, whatever you feel like. First, clean your whole bathroom and rummage through your things to discover sugar scrubs and nail polishes you forgot you had.

9. Make a reading fort in your bedroom and catch up on all those books you've been wanting to read. If you get really inspired, go on a writing or artist "retreat." Set up a room in your house where you can get into the zone and create something.

10. Visit out-of-state and international friends and family over FaceTime, Zoom, Google Hangouts, or whatever works for all of you. We're all in this together, all over the whole world. Remember that, and make extra efforts to reach out and hear each other's voices and see each other's faces.

We might have to postpone our weddings, quinceaƱeras, and travel plans until next year or longer, but we can still dream about what we'll do when the quarantines and the shutdowns lift. And when they do, if we need to stay gentle with our finances, you may wish to revisit my old post on...



Staycations from Sea to Shining Sea


The bad news? The American economy sucks, and transportation costs are high. The good news? The U.S.A. is a vast land, full of diverse ecosystems and natural treasures within a short distance of wherever you are. You don't need to board a jet or have more than a hundred bucks saved to have a fabulous, relaxing, or adventurous vacation.


The cheapest, simplest, easiest way to spend your vacation is to literally stay right where you are, at home, and vegetate. Pick up your local paper and see what festivals, art shows, bar events, shady carnivals, etc. are going on in your town. Even in Lansing, Michigan, there's generally SOMETHING fun going on within walking or biking distance or a short bus ride away. The fun stuff may not be obvious. Get in touch with your inner child! Spend time poking around, getting into mischief, and playing. In your very own town, you can do things like...


Walk around your city! If it's shabby and deteriorating like much of Lansing, that just makes things more interesting. Gather some adult friends in daylight hours and snoop around in public places such as fancy government buildings, parks that police have to patrol nightly, and urban hangouts like Litchfield Manor under the bridge. Buy a 99-cent ice cream and a 40 oz. at the corner store and eavesdrop on the loiterers outside. Chat with the immigrants inside and check out the little treasures they might sell, such as imported incense and homemade ethnic food and Bollywood DVDs.


At night, browse adult shopping districts like the glorious one in downtown Columbus, Ohio. It feels naughty-fun, not gross and creepy, if you go with a group of buddies! Or, if you're looking for more safe, comfortable, family-appropriate good times...


Climb on a playground with some kids! Bring your own, or borrow nieces, nephews, or friends' kids! Wear casual clothes and get dirty and exhausted. Revisit happy childhood memories.



Do cheesy tourist stuff like riding on the top of your city's tour bus or aboard a play pirate ship. Just don't get suckered into buying the framed photo or a bunch of overpriced drinks. One or two should suffice!


Visit a shady carnival in a nearby farming community or city parking lot. People-watch from the top of a Ferris wheel. Eat fried garbage and make yourself sick on things that spin. To save yourself from financial ruin at these sneaky traveling attractions, first make a decision to a.) commit to an entire day of goofing off and buy the day pass, or b.) buy tickets for ONLY ONE ride and then move on to your next adventure, somewhere else.


For even cheaper entertainment, visit local museums! Kids' science museums have ridiculously fun contraptions that you can ride on, spin, make glow, blow bubbles through, or use to create some kind of gooey educational souvenir.


Art museums featuring weird or surrealist works can be hours of cheap or free fun. Take your time, look, touch, think, and discuss.


Take a tour of local churches when there are no services going on. There's usually some pretty cool stuff in there. Churches can be like free museums with a religious and historical angle. Check out the stained glass and sculpture in a Catholic cathedral. Study the iconography in an Orthodox church. Learn about the heritage of your local Jewish synagogue. Take a yoga class at a Hindu temple.


Unitarian Universalist churches often have art exhibits decorating their sanctuary spaces, which people can browse for free.


Or, stay right at home and "go camping" in your backyard! Bonus: You can drink out in the open on private property.


If your city or township allows it, have a campfire! Invite all your friends over for s'mores. We made this fire pit in our backyard in about two hours, using rocks and stuff we had on the property.


Stay out there all week if you want! But if you would much rather have a change of scene on your vacation...


Borrow a "cabin" or "bed & breakfast room" for free. Visit family members or friends in another locale, or swap homes with them for a few days.


Hang out in a big city apartment and have a friend give you a tour of all the best events and hot spots.


Midwestern folks: Hitch a ride with friends to the coast of one of the Great Lakes. Enjoy the scenery and low tourist traffic.


Look for fossils, Petoskey stones, and other cool rocks on freshwater beaches. Climb the dunes.


Lounge on the endless, empty stretches of sand and watch the sunset next to a beach bonfire.


Wine doesn't always get better after the $20 price mark. Spumante is a good complement to toasted marshmallows. As is Oberon beer. You can make a beach "cooler" by digging a hole in the sand and filling it partway with cold lake water.


If you live or will be visiting someone near an ocean shore, go fishing off a bridge.


On the West coast, hike along scenic trails and freeways and take in the spectacular views. Who needs a prepackaged tour?




On either coast, take in a spectacular sunrise or sunset. But if you're nowhere near a coastline, ocean or not...


Take a hike at the nearest park, zoo, arboretum, or forest.


Find your own private Eden, even if just for a day. You don't need to own a vacation home, book a flight, or stay at a resort suite or timeshare to find adventure and/or relaxation on your hard-earned vacation days. Just be open, take advantage of opportunities, and live life as it comes until it's back to the old grind. Make your geographic location your own personal playground.

Happy recreation!

Comments

  1. Further proof that this blog is your (DAMN CONVINCING) attempt to lure me back up nerf to visit.

    ReplyDelete

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