Stay Put: Make Your Vacay a Staycay this Year

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It wasn’t until I left my home state that I realized how much I hadn’t seen of it. That’s a good place to start. Ask yourself, “What would a tourist to my area do?”

The term “staycation,” referring to saving money by eschewing the air travel, hotel stays and frequent restaurant meals long-distance travel requires, popped up in the U.S. during the 2007 financial crisis. However, growing climate concerns have caused us to also consider the detrimental effects of long-distance travel. The 3,000 gallons of fuel an airliner burns just on takeoff and the 50 tons of trash and over one million gallons of wastewater produced during a one-week cruise give us pause when dreaming of our getaway.

Staycationing is a greener option because eliminating air travel means not contributing to the significant emissions and fuel and energy consumption involved.Eliminating a hotel stay means not contributing to the several million gallons a year of water that a large hotel can use, the massive energy consumption its constant occupation causes, or the huge amount of waste it produces. Aside from those obvious environmental impacts, one must also consider that the food vacationers eat is generally not produced or distributed in a sustainable way, that vacationers produce much more waste than when they are home, and many more factors that aren’t as in-your-face as a jet.

Besides, planning a fabulous staycation is so easy! A good starting place, especially if you’re new to the area, is the local or state tourism bureau. Type “Visit(State or City)” into your browser and you’ll find tons of them. It’s a great way to discover local festivals and interesting things to do like the garlic festival in Gilroy, CA, stand-up paddleboard eco-tours in Florida, and Samuel Adams Brewery tours in Boston.

Virginians and Marylanders: Have you ever actually been *inside* the Supreme Court building?

It wasn’t until I left my home state that I realized how much I hadn’t seen of it. That’s a good place to start. Ask yourself, “What would a tourist to my area do?” Chances are that you know of a lot of cool stuff to see and things to do that you’ve never actually seen and done yourself! A Texan may have been to Paris, but has he seen the Alamo? Been to the Space Center in Houston? We tend to overlook what’s close to us, perhaps thinking that we’ll get to it someday, in favor of what seems exotic. On a staycation you can explore those hometown treasures.

If you’d rather not hang out with all the other tourists, break the mold and search out the secret spots. There are several publications, like Hidden Portland by Carye Bye, designed to help you find these places. But part of the fun of these little American cubbyholes is finding them yourself. So, Oregonian, go on a solitude treasure hunt led only by Ev Hu’s vague clues. Just promise not to reveal the locations if you do find them!

Florida boasts parks other than Disney World! Ravine Gardens State Park in Palatka is historic and beautiful

Another great way to plan your staycation is to theme it up. Think about what you’re interested in. A Kansan history buff can follow a bit of the Santa Fe trail, learn about the intersection of Native Americans and European settlers, experience pioneer life, and sample everything from American Indian to vegetarian fare all in the little town of Council Grove. Check out USA Today’s “10 great places to discover Midwest charm” for more inspiration.

Boston is awesome, but nearby Quincy’s offerings include John Adams’ home and stone library

If you are a seasoned staycationer and it seems like you’ve exhausted your options, it’s time to get weird! How about visiting the remnants of The Museum of Questionable Medical Devices in Minnesota? Consult the Weirdseries of books to get started. With rocks that move all by themselves and a submerged town that rose up again out of Lake Mead, there’s way more weirdness in Nevada than just Las Vegas.

Check out Practically Green’s action pages on reducing leisure air travel and other travel-related topics, and start planning your awesome staycation today!

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