Living

Can you have a fun vacation at home?

Not everyone can afford a plane ticket or has a cottage — but even if we can buy a flight, or do have the opportunity to go away, sometimes we just don’t want to. There's the line-ups at the airports, getting through security, not to mention the cost.

Masterfile

Not everyone can afford a plane ticket or has a cottage — but even if we can buy a flight, or do have the opportunity to go away, sometimes we just don’t want to. There’s the line-ups at the airports, getting through security, not to mention the cost. I’m planning to go on a trip with my daughter soon to Bahamas, but just thinking of the packing, getting to the airport for 6am and the cost of the four-day trip is exhausting me.

I used to love to travel, and I mostly still do. Luckily, though, there may be a middle ground. There’s a new trend now called “staycations.” I spoke with Jonathan Tafler, the general manager for Jaunt (launching July 26), which specializes in staycations. Jaunt provides handpicked menus of local travel opportunities, including hotel accommodations, winery tours, spa packages, gourmet meals and outdoor adventures.

So what exactly is a staycation?: “The actual definition of staycation is ‘a vacation spent at home or nearby.’ For Jaunters, a staycation means enjoying all the benefits of getting away but without having to go too far or for too long — typically for a night or a weekend within driving distance of your home. That means experiencing your own city or surrounding area in a different way, and often seeing it in a different light,” he says. “Many of us are prone to falling into the same old weekend routine, and forget that we are living in such a vibrant city and country with so much to offer. Staycations break the boring weekend mold and give us a new appreciation for our surroundings — while often providing the same refreshing and restorative benefits of a typical vacation.”

Why are staycations trendy?:  Two main reasons, says Tafler. “First, the cost of air travel (particularly in Canada) has skyrocketed in recent years, making it increasingly cost prohibitive to travel long distances. Second, as our lives become increasingly hectic and stressful, one or two weeklong vacations per year just don’t provide the restoration people need to function at their peak year-round. We also hear people complain about what we call ‘the vacation pinch’ — the incredibly stressful period leading up to a vacation, when you’re trying to frantically ‘clear your desk’, followed by the pile of work (and hundreds of emails) waiting for you upon your return!” Have you ever returned from vacation feeling like you need a “vacation from your vacation,” he asked. Taking a short trip close to home, especially one that is mostly pre-planned, can provide a restful break while avoiding the vacation pinch, and saves on what is often the most expensive and stressful part of traveling — the plane ride.

What is the target demographic for staycations?: “The types of people who can enjoy staycations are quite broad, he said: the young couple looking for some romance and time to reconnect, the young family looking for a change of scenery and a new way to entertain the kids, the group of ladies looking to unwind and indulge at the spa, the empty-nesters looking for a fun cultural and culinary experience. “The list goes on! However, in general these are people with very busy lives who really appreciate a bit of time to disconnect, embrace and enjoy life.”

Why do people enjoy them?: “Certainly, staycations provide cost savings and require less time commitment, but we think the appeal goes beyond that. Often a two- or three-day break can provide the same restorative benefits of a longer vacation, while avoiding many of the stresses and annoyances of traveling longer distances. Also, it is much easier (and often less stressful) to manage a shorter trip around other work and family commitments,” he reminded.

Do you think people aren’t aware of the many good things at home?: “Absolutely,” he said. “Let’s face it, we are all creatures of routine, often frequenting the same shops and restaurants, exploring our same local neighborhood, etc. And when we think about breaking from this routine, we automatically envision ourselves at the airport flying off to the Caribbean or Europe! What we don’t often realize is there is a whole fun and exciting world at our fingertips — a world many foreigners travel for days to see! From personal experience growing up in North Toronto, it took me until much later in life to realize that there were so many interesting areas of the city I never explored or even knew about — while I may have been living ‘in’ the city, I wasn’t really living the city!”

How does one make the most of a staycation?: It really depends on what you are looking for, he said. If it is really just to switch off, relax and unwind, holing up in a beautiful inn and spa (such as the Old Mill in Toronto) for a few days may be just the treatment you need. If the outdoors are your passion, getting out of the city and taking in some nature and activities (such as at the Horseshoe Resort in Collingwood) would do the trick. If it’s a city experience you’re looking for, how about a gallery tour and fine dining at a top Toronto hotel (such as the SoHo Metropolitan)? Whatever your mood, the key is to really make the time to disconnect from the stresses and routine of day-to-day life, and to get out and explore something new.

Do you think you’d ejoy a staycation? Or would you rather get on that plane, no matter what? Thoughts?

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