I have had some friends from abroad stay with us recently. That’s always a lot of fun. I remember always finding it curious when I saw people dressed up in suits walking the streets of cities that I travel to during vacations. I guess what I mean is that, when you’re in the middle of a vacation and in the vacation mindset, it feels a little odd seeing someone in the same location that is completely out of the vacation mindset and very much focussed on their day-to-day grind. In the same way, it’s sometimes a bit odd to be in that day-to-day grind in your home city and see tourists visit who are obviously in vacation mode. When I see them, I often stop and wonder: why would they possibly have chosen to take their vacation here, in my city?
That isn’t to say that I don’t live in an interesting city. Far from the contrary. But Portland it isn’t necessarily a city that I consider a vacation spot. But then that leads me to a further inquiry: is it a city I don’t consider a vacation spot because, from an objective perspective, it really isn’t a very good vacation spot, or is it just that I’ve associated the city with the work grind, rather than good times?
I don’t think I am alone. Most people that live in the city probably haven’t seen all of the tourist attractions within it, simply because they don’t conceive of the city as a vacation spot, and so spend their vacation time at some far flung destination. But, that makes me wonder: why spend so much time and money travelling elsewhere if you can stay in your own home and enjoy a vacation in your own city?
I have heard more and more of my friends say that they are taking what is known as a staycation, which is essentially a vacation in your own home. While I absolutely love the idea of minimizing costs and staying home, I do see some challenges around getting a proper rest during a staycation.
In fact, studies have shown that vacations can be extremely healthy because they help break the cycle of stress that most of us fall into with our jobs. When we travel elsewhere for our vacation, we are essentially shocked out of our regular cycle. We are in a new place, the time zone may be different, we are eating different foods, the scenery is different, and were interacting with very different people. All of that means that the cycle of stress breaks down a whole lot faster.
But, if we are taking a staycation, everything in our life will probably feel exactly the same, but for the fact that, at least during our waking hours, we have much more time at our disposal to use as we please. And, if so much remains familiar, it seems that there’s much more possibility of being reminded of the stresses and anxieties that await you upon the conclusion of your vacation. So, while a staycation may be less expensive and more convenient, it may not actually be providing you with all of the benefit of a real vacation abroad.
Of course, none of that is meant to say that we shouldn’t take the time to become tourists in our own city. Frankly, as residents of a particular city, we should be well-versed in its virtues, and, if we’re up for the challenge, it’s vices. 😉 But we can do that with a long weekend or in extra day off taken here or there. Or, better yet, save it for when you have friends in town who are delighted at the thought of being a tourist in your city. Strap on a fanny pack and join them, and maybe you’ll see your city through fresh eyes.