the art of staycationing

After years worth of regularly vacationing, many people consider vacation to be an annual necessity rather than a special treat. But let's define "vacation."

va·ca·tion [/vāˈkāSHən/] noun 1. an extended period of recreation

Maybe it's not in the official definition, but I think that when most people think of being away or on vacation, a big part of it is simply being away from work. (Not that work isn't awesome...hey Downs Creative, love you guys!) Heading to the beach for a week is certainly nice if you live close or have a large chunk of change laying around that you just don't know what to do with, but have you ever thought about enjoying a home? [insert shocked gasps here]  Denying yourself from the traditional vacation doesn't mean you need to deny yourself the enjoyment of taking time off. And guess what? The beach will still probably be there next year.

Vacation destination 2012 - Home Sweet Home!
Obviously, a huge motivation behind opting for a staycation can be saving a buttload of money. Dave and I have always been very dedicated to eliminating debt and we're serious about our financial planning. After totally botching our budget when we bought our house (and lots of expensive things to go with it), we had a whole new appreciation for our usual diligence.

So after 9 months of paying, we're once again "debt-free" (other than the mortgage and Dave's school loans) ;)  This summer, we're going to celebrate by taking a staycation and enjoying our new home. 

In addition to celebrating my week-long birthday extravaganza, 4th of July and our 3-year wedding anniversary, here are a few other staycation ideas we (or you) might enjoy:
• Mini Golf/Go-carting - As something we always enjoy doing on vacation, it will be fun to check out a family fun center that we've never been to. Nothing says vacation like mini golf and go-carting.
• Amusement Park(s) - This is a no-brainer for a successful staycation. Check out parks you've never been to, as well as some of your local favorites. Sometimes, especially with bigger parks, it might be fun to go a few times and enjoy different areas, rides and trashy food. Be sure to check around for local ticket sales and deals.
• Gardening - Maybe this isn't everyone's idea of fun, but I think there are few things as satisfying as toiling and working hard in the dirt, getting absolutely drenched, filthy and exhausted, but then spending a cool evening basking in the glory of a lovely garden.
• Fishing - This is aimed more at Dave, but as long as I don't have to touch the naked worm, kill or injure a fish or see any killed or injured fish, I really enjoy it too. Basically, I like to sit by a lake with a hookless rod and eat snacks.
• Rock Climbing This is something cool I've been wanting to check out and there's a great indoor place nearby to practice! Whether it's rock climbing or anything else, make a point to try something new!
• Hit up the aviary, zoo, science center...etc. - Living near a fun city is always helpful when you're staycationing. Take advantage of nearby museums, parks and exhibits you might not otherwise make time for, or see what's new at places you have visited in the past.
• Canoeing - This is a relaxing and fun activity, even for lazy people. If you find the right river and head down stream, you can just relax and enjoy the view, sans rowing.
• Yoga - With how much I work and teach my own yoga each week, I feel guilty about not making time to visit other studios locally and downtown. I definitely plan to attend a class or two, but even if you've never tried yoga, vacation is a perfect time to start!
• Picnicking - (with Fluffernutter sandwiches) Oh yea. Picnicking (and Fluffernutter) scream 'vacation.' We plan to make a day trip to visit a park we've never been to.
• Dog Park - Although this is something we do regularly, it always makes us feel like we're on vacation. At this beautiful park, we love playing with all the different dogs and meeting new, friendly people every time we go. And after all, Zero goes to work too, so he deserves a vacation!
• Paddle-boating - There is just something I love about paddle boats and at $7 per glorious hour, this will be something calm to do at a local park.

All these activities will be supplemented with relaxing, movie-watching, ice-cream eating, picture-taking and sleeping-in. Yes, these are all things we could technically do on any weekend, but we rarely seem to make time for. We also think this staycation is the perfect plan for really breaking-in our first summer in our new house.

Whether you vacation or not, I think it's important to set aside time to enjoy what's already around you. Everyone loves traveling and getting away sometimes, but true contentment starts at home.

Update - The staycation weather severely limited our outdoor activities (over 95º all week!) but we still thoroughly enjoyed our time together. Maybe our next staycation will be enjoyed in the fall, though. :)