“Staycations” can give you surmecmreeartion
a break, without breaking
Should I stay
or should I go?
By Alice Shapin
LAST SUMMER, THE MOORES—Debbie
and Paul and their two children—enjoyed a
“We hit the Washington, D.C., hot spots,
the museums, the zoo, the top of the Post
Office Pavilion, an ate at the high-energy ESPN
Zone. We even took photos,” says, Debbie, who
lives 30 minutes from Washington in Rockville,
Maryland, and is a Costco member.
And Canadian Costco members Minerva
and Michael Regan are busy planning their
summer staycation. “On our list is Niagara
Falls, about an hour away. We love the huge
lawns, flowers, restaurants and the walking
trails. And we’ll certainly take our grandchildren on the Toronto Island ferry to Centreville
Amusement Park,” says Minerva, who lives 30
minutes from Toronto.
If you’re wondering what a staycation is,
don’t bother to look for it in Webster’s dictionary. It isn’t there, at least not yet. According
to Urban Dictionary (www.urbandictionary.
com), a staycation is a vacation spent close to
home. And in the summer of 2008, it became
a favorite media buzzword.
“Last year’s gas crisis made people vacation closer to home. This year it’s the economy,” says John Townsend, manager of public
affairs for AAA. It’s expected that in 2009
more travelers will explore nearby towns, cities, beaches, mountains and even their own
and tourism department at the University of
Utah. Think about hiking, boating, camping,
white-water rafting and nature walks. Many
urban areas have great walking/biking paths.
“Young people need excitement and an element of danger, and outdoor adventure provides it in a controlled manner. For more
adventurous activities, such as rock climbing,
you’ll want to manage the hazards,” says
Cederquist. Take a course (many municipalities
offer them), get the proper equipment (rent,
borrow or buy) and stay within your ability.
“Living in Calgary, the Rockies are but an
hour’s drive away, where there’s thousands of
kilometers of trails, hot springs, funky museums, great restaurants—all in Banff and Lake
Louise. It makes for a great outing,” says
Costco member Debra Cummings, a writer
specializing in family and adventure.
Local attractions only
A staycation is the perfect chance to do the
things you’ve always wanted to do but never
had time for, such as playing tourist in your
own city. “During our staycation we visited the
zoo really early so we could see the animals
being fed. It was a special treat,” says Debbie.
“The city skyline, sawtoothed mountains
and eagles overhead—we saw it all aboard the
[ferry] Queen of Capilano,” says Costco member Julie Ovenell-Carter, a travel writer and
blogger specializing in Canadian travel tips.
“The Capilano links Bowen Island to West
Vancouver on the mainland. It’s a great opportunity to experience B.C.’s dramatic coastline.”
Like any vacation, a staycation takes planning. Experts suggest you set a beginning and
an end to your staycation, make a budget, do
research, buy a few things to make it more
enjoyable and get your chores out of the way
first. Otherwise, you’re just coming up with
regular weekend activities.
For information, check your local newspapers and magazines for new exhibits and
events, and visit the chamber of commerce or
stop by a nearby hotel for brochures on area
attractions. Before visiting museums and
other venues, find out if there are special
deals. Consider becoming a member.
Sometimes, especially for places such as the
aquarium that you might visit several times in
a year, it might be a better deal. Also see if a
city pass (several sights bundled together for
one discounted price) is available.
Besides museums and amusement parks,
visit botanical gardens, take a walking tour and
find your area’s highest point for a panoramic
view. See a minor-league baseball game and
check out area festivals. Take in a movie, or find
free outdoor movies and pack a picnic.
And since you’re saving money with a staycation, splurge by dining at your favorite restaurant or be more adventurous and eat in the
local Chinatown or the Vietnamese neighborhood: You can make-believe you’ve traveled to
that country and order something delicious.
The Costco Connection
From sporting goods to backyard play sets
and patio sets to books, as well as discounted tickets to events and attractions, Costco
warehouses and Costco.com carry items to
help members create their ideal staycation.
Natural and nearby resources
Tired of the city? “Look to the outdoors,
parks, rivers and lakes. Depending where you
live you may also have access to the beach or
the mountains,” says Costco member John
Cederquist, a natural-resources learning coordinator and a teacher in the parks, recreation
The world outside your door
For some, their own backyard is the ideal
staycation. “Last summer I found the perfect
backyard lounge chair—pricey, but much less
expensive than a weekend away. Quietly reading in my new chaise longue is a great staycation for me,” says author and Costco member
Candyce Stapen of Washington, D.C.
Consider turning your backyard into a
relaxing oasis or mini resort by buying beautiful plants, outdoor furniture, a grill or even an
above-ground pool. Add a water slide, trampoline and badminton. Afterwards, throw a
themed party such as a Caribbean night.
Can’t go camping? Create a campground
in the backyard. Set up a tent with sleeping
bags for the kids, and don’t forget the food.
Lastly, just because your destination may
not be exotic doesn’t mean your expectations
should be lowered. Remember your camera,
and finish off your staycation by scrapbooking. Who knows—the vacation of your
dreams may be closer than you realize. C
Alice Shapin (
staycations, from throwing a backyard party to
visiting local museums.