Friday, June 25, 2010

Staycation plans

By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES — It’s prime time for vacations. Have you made your plans?
Recently, I spent lots of time online and on the phone trying to arrange to transport one grandson to accommodate the reunion schedules of five family groups in four states.
Many gray hairs and rebooking penalty fees later, I decided we should all leave it the pros and go back to our travel agents.
And I decided that, personally, this could be the year for staycations.
A survey of my soulmates revealed vacation plans that range from fishing and camping on Oregon’s Mount Hood to a cousin reunion in the Grand Canyon, urban adventures in New York, cool coastal getaways in Maine and the New Jersey shores and an underwater archaeological expedition to Turkey.
It all sounds like a lot of fun, if you have three or four weeks at a stretch to enjoy it all, or some access to Star Trek technology that would allow you to beam to your destination in the twinkling of a eye. (Although, if I remember my Trekkie lore, even advanced civilizations of the future occasionally managed to lose some vital luggage and a traveler or two in their high-tech transporters.)
As a travel writer, I’ve done a lot of the whirlwind, “If It’s Tuesday, it Must be Belgium” tours and in my vintage years, that mode seems more like work than a vacation.
In the same category, as far as I’m concerned, are so-called vacations where you volunteer to work on someone’s farm or donate your services in your normal field of employment. Volunteering is a noble thing to do, and I’m all for it. I just don’t think we should try to call it a vacation.
A win-win alternative could be to bid on a vacation getaway at an auction held by your favorite charity, benefiting a good cause and getting a real vacation at the same time.
I’m wary about home exchange programs, though I’ve heard glowing reports from friends who’ve swapped a few weeks or even months of life in their home towns for exotic locations in other parts of the globe.
But by the time you find a suitable swap, get your own home ready for visitors, and maintain and clean your vacation destination home (the way you hope your guests are treating your abode), the whole process sounds pretty stressful and exhausting.
I’d rather have someone else bring me fresh towels and change the sheets every day, sweep up the beach sand, turn down the beds, leave pillow mints and surprise me with fresh fruit and warm cookies, thank you very much.
On the other hand, if you stay home, or close by, you can add a couple of days you’d otherwise lose to travel time. There’s no need to plan and pack. Your vacation wardrobe is anything in your closet — or nothing at all. With all the money you’ll save, you can order takeout every day, or plan your own healthy spa diet with the occasional lobster treat.
And if you do your staycation right, you might even get relaxed enough to get out town for your next vacation.

S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at

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