The origins of the word Staycation are unknown. It is widely used word nowadays. Recently I read an article on Tripoto about how ‘Indians are terribly vacation-deprived‘. In the same article, there’s a link to another article which is about the plans for long weekend getaways for the 14 long weekends that are in 2017.
I can not agree more, Indians are actually terribly deprived of vacations. Most professional people I know don’t take vacations, in fact, they will even work a few hours on the weekends because the work is too much at times. Yep, that’s how work in Indian Banking sector and other sectors are now. I myself work more than 10-12 hours daily. It sucks. We all want to take a vacation but we don’t. There is always one excuse or another. Family reasons, kids schools or office. Leaving our jobs and becoming full-time travelers is another possibility to dab in but then again there are reasons not to do that just now.
Saturday/Sunday evenings are passed mostly in doing one common exercise, ‘Waiting‘. Yes, the golden moments that one spends in traffic, at restaurants waiting for the food or even a waiter to arrive and take an order. Even in small towns like mine people are out on such days, one day’s leave from the kitchen for the wife and outing for the kids at the beach or the hills. Upon return, the street lorries, restaurants and hotels are full of people waiting. The food that takes 20 minutes to arrive ends up taking 100 minutes or more and we end up spending that quality time on our cells reading or checking Facebook and updating it of course.
Where’s the life in that? The fun? The vacation?
Is it because we have got the meaning of Vacation wrong? Vacation in a simple sense just means ‘a holiday’. It doesn’t have to be something that you spend a few thousand bobs on, it also doesn’t mean that you leave your home and go out of the city for a few days. It is plain simple HOLIDAY. That being said, you can just spend the entire long weekend at home or in your hometown doing things in a different light.
Staycation is word devised just for that. In 2005 Canadian writer/comedian Brent Butt shone light upon the word staycation since then it has been widely used. Stay+Vacation, stay put and enjoy your holiday. How? Let’s make a list of things to do on a staycation.
- Take a good nap. You knew it, you show that coming from the start, didn’t you? Isn’t it real happiness not having to drag yourself out at the sound of the ‘tick tock’? Taking a nap for as long as you like, the real majestic beauty of a vacation.
Especially for couples who live alone, this is time for those light moods, chocolate strawberry summers, candle light dinners, silky bed sheets, rose wines, romantic music and what not? *wink* Afterall, honeymoon happens in a closed room anyway, it doesn’t have to be a European dream.
- Local Tour. How often do we ignore the beautiful places that are right there in our own city? For example, I didn’t know there’s a tiny(really tiny) boat ride across the river that connects my small town to the Union Territory of Daman. That isn’t something grand but imagine having lived in a city for 24+ years and not knowing this?
Many times the ones who are rockstars of traveling out-of-state don’t have a clue about where the tea and sugar are in their own house. Name the road that you travel through daily? Similar to a foreign visitor asking for direction to a certain landmark that you have no idea about. There are many things happening in your own city, like new tree sapling plantation, old age home programs (or the lack of it), city surveys etc. Why not cycle around the city slowly taking in its beauty, eating along the way?
- Arts & Science projects. This one is a keeper for those with kids. Kids love doing new things, they have a wonder in their eyes and minds that most adults have long forgotten. Make a camera out of the shoe box with your kid and look at how they react, how much fun they have in making it, it WILL make you forget all your worries. Make a doll, table & chair, learn to solder a circuit board etc.
Compared to its foreign counterparts in India, carpentry/pottery is not taught in schools. It is considered unnecessary. Unlike western countries, we don’t even have camps for different activities. Kids are not given chances to pick from different skills which excite them to create.
- Observation Trips. Ever get curious about how your dining table is made? Carpentering, Gardening (wall gardening, roof gardening, gallery gardening etc), how sweets are made, how small bakeries function, how some companies work?
For example, Amul Dairy plant in Anand lets visitors observe how their facility operates and they even give you chocolate hampers at the end of your trip. Other places? Find some connections or drop somewhere and ask around if they let such things happen or not. There’s always something new to learn around the corners.
- Volunteering. Staycation and volunteering, seriously bad idea. But why not? If you are alone, single or wanna instill some social skills in kids? What better than volunteering?
Believe it or not, maybe it is becoming less visible in the Facebook/Instagram era where traveling to far away mountains and beaches are beautified but there are still people out there who needs your help.
Orphanages, old age homes are at the top of my lists. Next is mountains and hills that are becoming treeless due to modern furniture industry that keeps you wanting more.
Start a sapling plantation drive, take help of the local authorities/forest offices. Help local farmer with some of his tasks. Teach kids in slums. Help an elderly. Vacation time wasted? I don’t think so.
- Have a binge book reading camp. It will boost your brain more than a vacation coaching class or the demonic tuitions. Call over your friends or family members and pick out books you want to read. Then grab the book and get to your own corners, eat those ice cream pops, fresh snacks (homemade of course) and read like it’s all you know.
At the end gather around, discuss ideas, writing styles etc. Go on the tour of the universe with someone’s words. Reading a book that opens your mind to new ideas is great fun after all.
- Music day, Movie night. Call over your friends or just you and your family. Go crazy play music all day long, dance along, sing along, eat and drink along. Sounds fun yet? Please don’t make it a party that ruins the home and you have to clean up later as if a skunk ran through your home.If some of you know how to play some musical instruments, do I need to say more? Let your mind run wild.
Binge watch a series of a movie or any movies at night. Sleep late. Yep, late sleeping and late waking another day is an advantage of holidays. It’s home not jail nor hotel.
- Farming & fruit picking. Everyone complains about the rising costs of food products, how many visits the place where these products are born? Yes, we will eat mangoes no matter the cost but how many of us have truly had the fun of climbing the mango trees and picking out one mango to taste?
Doesn’t everyone enjoy the sweet & sour berries that comes out in summers/winters but how many of us climb the trees of pick from the bush? It is a fun activity not reserved only for the squirrels and monkeys. Have you seen a calf being born and the cow licking it clean? After a calf is born, the first milk is for the baby to drink. The farmer than milks the cow. From that milk, they make a sweet. My grandparents and we used to make it. It is called ‘Dudheli’ in Gujarati, it is like cottage cheese with a different taste. Felt what it is like to milk a cow/buffalo/goat or any animal at all?
Thought of planting a chili plant? Or a brinjal or tomato plant? Pretty darn easy and fun you know. Go to a strawberry garden, help in picking the strawberries and then packing. You will love it and appreciate the fruits as much more.
- Treasure hunt. Make a map or two, challenge your spouse or your kids, make it just your home or spread it over the town. Finding a treasure (even a chocolate bar) by following some myths or legends of your own town or some other and mapping it accordingly. Sometimes ending up nowhere. A treasure hunt is just all that.
- Sky camp. Just the name of it… Find different constellations, listen to music and google to learn about the stars and different layers of the sky. Who said you need to run to the jungles to make a tent and have a campfire? You don’t have to go to a jungle or hills to make a camp, put up a tent and stargaze with your honey on a honeymoon to Switzerland, you can get as wild under a starlit sky right on your rooftop or in your garden.
- Play small games. Remember those childhood games? Police-thief (Chor-Sipahi), Cards, Hide and Seek, Tic-Tac-To, Video games, Bingo, Snake & ladders, Scrabbles, chess, ludo, quizzes, London bridge is falling down, music chair and challenges (writing, skipping, running etc) etc. Time to teach those to your kids rather than watching the TV or mobile games. Be Sherlock Holmes for a day! Repeating,
Staycations are just all this and so much more. It’s all about getting creative and having fun with your dear ones in your home or hometown. It doesn’t have to be boring or no fun activity. Rather than staying at home you can even march into a hotel and get a room for a night or two. Also, heard of tree house vacation homes? If you have a garden maybe you can make a tree house with your kid over the long weekend.
I remember going off to my grandparent’s house during holidays (spring/summer breaks). Best days of my life.
Life is as fun and wild as we make it. Life has a reward for those who learn to enjoy their own companies too. Just don’t expect life to come in front of you with bands and decorations to give that reward.
Compared to my colleagues and friends most of whom are born in the city, being a small town buff I have been lucky enough to do most of these things I have listed. In conclusion, I urge you please don’t depend on an international tour or a domestic one to cheer you up and renew you for the next round at the office. Contrary to the popular belief, the fun begins at home. Put your creative pants on and start planning your next staycation.
Furthermore, it is the lack of momentum and abundance of monotony that kills us before death. Therefore don’t stay put, don’t dwell on what was, don’t think about future. Finally, learn to have fun, NOW.