If gas goes up to five dollars per gallon as projected, don’t count on airline ticket prices going anywhere but sky high too. After all it’s not like planes run on marshmallows, they use fuel and lots of it. Add the exhausting exercises of long drives and surviving the intimidatingly intimate gauntlet of airport security measures, few vacation options seem viable if you’re looking for some actual relaxation without wasting time or money. Were you thinking about taking the train? They don’t run on marshmallows either, and recently uncovered terror threats to America’s railways means there’ll be beefed up security at the nearest train station too. Traveling in the year 2011 will take its toll on your wallet and your temperament no matter how you do it.
So why do it? “Staycations”, as they’re called, have become increasingly popular in the recent economically challenged times and are likely to stay that way if fuel prices continue to rise. The concept is self-explanatory: you stick around your hometown on vacation. But it can easily sound boring. Haven’t you already done everything you can at home? You’ve been to the best malls, eaten at the best restaurants, are over the landmarks, so where’s the excitement?
Maybe finding the unvisited hot spots in your area is the excitement? We tend to overlook a lot of the fringe fun in our respective regions. An hour or so driving outside the city limits wouldn’t hurt your gas tank as much as a trip across the country, yet you might find terrific campsites or beautiful trails you’d never even heard of otherwise because you’ve only been interested in the campsites and trails in other parts of the country. Staying overnight in a sleepy town you’ve researched beforehand that has a surprising amount to offer could be a great cheap way to experience a little shift in culture without shifting money around your bank accounts. You might find a town that has horse riding, wine country, a festival, trails, and more traditional entertainment for the family like bowling alleys and a movie theater.
But don’t count out the offerings of your very own hometown that you’ve maybe neglected to check up on in recent years. The local museums, especially if they have rotating gallery space, are always worth the revisit, especially if you and your family haven’t been in a while and updated installations are a certainty. You could plan your vacation around a local event like a Fourth of July fair or a popular match-up series between a local sports team and a rival. The options are endless if you get creative enough or plan early enough.
Ideally we always want to explore new worlds and take in new culture. Traveling is the best way to do this, but sometimes new worlds and new culture are right around the corner. You just got to walk around the block and see for yourself. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed in what your city has to offer if you’re open to a little legwork and a little adventure.