You don’t need to travel the world for a good time, and you don’t need to stay home to save money. A 1-3 hour drive is the sweet spot for a great local vacation.
Most of us have a dream vacation destination – Paris, Bora Bora, Machu Picchu – that we keep locked away in a secret place, and we use it as a soothing balm that helps us through our endless be-cubicled days.
When it comes to the realities of our annual getaway, however, these are rarely a practical option. Between the time and the expense, few of us can afford to jet off to exotic locales year after year. So, we save up our pennies and PTO for that One Big Trip. But, that doesn’t mean that we only get to enjoy ourselves once in a lifetime, otherwise resigned to the Purgatory of the “staycation.” Far from it. In fact, if you’re willing to venture just a couple of hours in the car, you’ll find that there are several advantages to keeping your vacation close to home.
Money to Burn
The most obvious benefit, of course, is to your budget. Even when gas prices creep back up, it’s impossible not to save money buying a couple of tanks vs. a couple of plane tickets. And, when you add in the cost of baggage fees, seat selection, and in-flight entertainment, the amount you’ll spend on the ground is a fraction of what you would have in the air. There’s also no need to rent a car or fork out for a taxi or Uber every time you want to leave your condo, as you’ve already got transportation covered. Plus, you can probably get a whole day’s worth of roadside diner grub and beef jerky for the price of one meal in an airport restaurant. You can use that extra money to do more activities, upgrade your accommodations, or even stay another day; odds are you’ll still have some left over to put towards next year’s vacation fund.
A fatter wallet isn’t the only positive aspect of loading the kids into the station wagon, though. You also get the freedom to make your own schedule. No screaming into the airport at the “last minute” just to be herded through a serpentine labyrinth of ID verification in various states of undress; you can stop wherever you want to check out the sights. World’s Third-Largest Ball of Twine? Score! You can chart your own course, follow your own itinerary; instead of being cargo, you get to be the captain. When they say it’s about the journey, not the destination, this is what they’re talking about. Bonus: you can’t beat a road trip for quality family time. Even if the conversation is primarily “Are we there yet?” and “I will pull this car over,” those memories never suffer from jetlag.
We may laugh at the native New Yorker who’s never seen the Statue of Liberty, but it really isn’t that far-fetched. Many of us live our lives without straying very far outside of our familiar bubble – home, work, pub, supermarket, church, dry cleaners – and never really take the opportunity to appreciate the wonders in our proverbial backyards. Vacationing within a short drive of your home allows you to have the tourist experience, while retaining a local’s knowledge. And, the more time you spend exploring, the more you discover, and the richer and more-layered tapestry of memories you weave. A trip to Paris might evoke a hundred different movie scenes, but none where you are the star. So, this year, pick a spot, pack the trunk, and program the GPS; it’s time to hit the road!
Created by Chad J. Barker