Within a couple of hours of where I live, there are two major cities, plenty of smaller cities, Amish country, mountains, beaches, and many undiscovered adventures. It’s easy to get caught up in traveling to exotic lands, but no matter where you live, there are plenty of unique sights to be uncovered in your own backyard.
There aren’t really any rules, but how I define a staycation is this: local travel within an hour or two with the intention of adventure and discovery. One of the great things about a staycation is that it can take many forms—a completely free day trip (aside from gas money and picnic lunches), a romantic weekend trip, or a full-fledged weeks’ vacation.
Four reasons you should take a staycation this year:
1. It’s easy.
Perhaps I should say it’s easier than planning a far-off vacation—there is still some work involved, but it doesn’t have to be much. There is no airfare or rental car involved. You might not even need to book a hotel stay if you plan a “day adventure.” Plus, you probably know many of the roads and areas you’ll be traveling, or at least have a vague familiarity with them.
2. You’ll save money.
Many of us probably heard staycation overused during the years that the recession was hitting hard—one of the many tips to save money. But even now that many families have recovered, most of us are still looking for ways to save money. Planning a staycation, even if it’s only a day trip, allows you to have a lot of adventure in your life throughout the year without waiting for vacation to roll around.
3. Break up the monotony of the daily grind.
One of my favorite reasons to plan a local adventure—especially overnight or for the weekend—is that it feels like you’re getting away when you stay overnight somewhere other than your home. It even feels a bit like pampering—to stay somewhere that you don’t have to clean up after yourself, breakfast is already made for you, and you get a change of scenery. It’s a great way to refresh and rejuvenate your spirit!
4. Awaken your sense of discovery and adventure.
You’ll probably be surprised by how many hidden gems there are in your own area if you start to seek them out. I recently had a 2-day adventure in my home county in southeastern Pennsylvania and spent the weekend going places I had never been (and some I had never even heard of):
–A scenic passenger train ride on the Colebrookdale Railroad (Boyertown, PA)
–Ziplining at Spring Mountain Adventures (Schwenksville, PA)
–Dinner and overnight stay at the Woodside Lodge at Spring Mountain (Schwenksville, PA)
–A tour of the incredible cathedral and former family home at the Bryn Athyn Historic District (Bryn Athyn, PA)
–A tour of the Wharton Esherick Museum—a painter turned wood sculptor whose unique studio is now a National Historic Landmark
So how do you manage to discover all the best places? Here are a few great resources to help you plan a staycation:
1. Crowdsource information.
Ask friends and family who live locally. One of my favorite ways to discover new places is to ask on Facebook. Especially if you haven’t lived in an area your whole life, friends who have will offer some great recommendations.
2. Check out your state’s tourism board website.
What is a tourism board? You’ve probably heard of it, even if you didn’t know what it was. If you’ve seen Facebook pages or websites that say “Visit Pennsylvania,” it’s probably the tourism board. If you’ve googled “things to do in [name of your state],” you probably ended up at their website. I just searched for “things to do in Pennsylvania,” and this was one of the first search results.
Simply put, it’s there to promote and encourage tourism to your state, and it’s a great resource! You can find themed itineraries, road trip ideas, events, and more. You’ll find everything from rustic camping to luxury accommodations.
3. Next, check out the local tourism board website.
Once you have an idea of the area you want to visit, search for “visit [name of the city or county]” to see if there is a more localized tourism website. (There probably is!) Major cities will have their own board, but smaller areas may have a county tourism board. I find new ideas all the time on Visit Philly and Valley Forge.org. Many of them are very active on social media, so you can tweet them or comment on Facebook or Instagram with a question, and they may give you even more ideas. (And if not, other commenters will probably chime in.)
4. Find a travel blogger that specializes in your local area or state.
Search on Google, Pinterest, and Twitter. The more you search around, you’ll probably discover a couple of websites that keep popping up. In Pennsylvania, there is a travel blog called Uncovering PA that I stumbled across on various searches. Not only is the website a great resource because it’s an actual person out there discovering new places, following them on social media and interacting is a great way to get new ideas (as well as give them ideas).
I think those ideas will yield you a ton of results. But don’t spend too much time planning—just get out there to the adventure that awaits in your backyard!
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