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Staycations satisfy the senses

Published June 09. 2012 09:01AM

As the days go by, more of my friends and acquaintances announce their vacation destinations.

Three couples are going together to Greece. One couple is touring Australia. Another picked Hawaii.

But former Allentown residents Joyce and Don Rebholz seem to take the cake when it comes to vacations. They are now on a long around-the-world cruise. The last e-mail we got from them detailed their time in Singapore and Malaysia.

They love adventure on cruises and claim they didn't flinch when reported pirate activity off the coast of Somali had them confined to their cabins for a short while.

All this talk of vacations leads Dave and I to turn to each other with the perennial question: Where are we going on vacation?

We both think we live year-round in Paradise. Aquamarine waters surround us, offering boating and kayaking adventures whenever we want. Wonderful days at the beach are ours for the asking and spectacular sunsets beckon each day.

"Where would we go," Dave questions, "that would be any better than this?"

Our answer: Nowhere. Our vacation destination is going to be Nowhere and Everywhere.

We're going to have a series of staycations. I don't know who coined that term but it's a good one.

What most people don't realize about a true staycation is that it doesn't mean staying home and sticking to the same routine. Quite the contrary.

A true staycation means exploring your own area as if you were a tourist.

It's been my long held observation that tourists differ from us year-round folks by two important distinctions:

1. They constantly seek new things to do and are open to different adventures. That means going out of their way and perhaps leaving their comfort zone to try new things.

2. Tourists aren't adverse to spending money. After all, it's their vacation and they want to make the most of it.

Let me tell you this. Imitating a tourist, which I love to do on staycations, isn't easy.

If you're leaving on a real vacation to another destination, you go when you are schedule to go. Nothing gets in your way.

But when you're planning a day's staycation as we often do, it's all too easy to say, "Oh, I can't go today because I have an appointment." So we just postpone our plans for another day. Then another day and another day.

Unlike a real vacation, it's hard to set a date for a staycation and then stick to it. It's also hard to spend money as freely as one does on vacation.

There's a wonderful wilderness ranch a hour from us that offers wildlife tours through swamps and forest, with plentiful sightings of bear, alligators and other wildlife. It's a perfect staycation trip for photographers like us.

But Dave does a double take when I mention tickets are $40 each. "It's ridiculous to pay that when we can see so much wildlife around us for free," he says.

I point out that we don't have the cost of a hotel room for our staycation so we can spend money for things we wouldn't ordinarily do.

I think that's the secret to having fun on staycation - doing things you wouldn't ordinarily do.

We have so many great kayak places close to our home so we don't usually travel two hours to other water destinations. But it makes a perfect staycation to plan a water trip a few hours from home. We top it off with dinner at a great restaurant. After all, we're on "staycation."

There are wonderful things to see and do in every locality. Often, these opportunities are enjoyed by tourists but not the people who live there.

For instance, I think rafting trips down the Lehigh River are the height of fun. Yet, most people who do the river adventure are from out of town. I think it's ironic that hundreds travel for hours to "do the Lehigh" but people who pass it everyday never do it.

It's the same with adventures in the Poconos. Thousands travel from out of state to relax in the pristine settings of the Poconos. But many people who live within an hour's drive have never been there.

It's like that for so many things.

Why let the tourists have all the fun?

You don't have to travel to foreign destinations to fill your senses. It's all there waiting for you in your own backyard. If you expand your scope and are willing to travel an hour of two, your opportunities for a fabulous staycation multiply.

I'm looking around my own area now, coming up with destinations for our day trips.

How about you?

If you manage to overcome the two staycation obstacles - taking the time and spending the money - you can have fun while you refresh your spirits. And you won't even have to send postcards.

If you do manage a successful staycation, I'd love to hear from you. We can always learn from each other.

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