In the past, loading up the entire family for a road trip for a vacation was a much anticipated annual ritual. With the astronomical prices of gas, many people are forgoing the trend of taking an annual vacation, and opting for a “staycation” instead. As the name suggests, staycations are vacations that are close to home and don’t require extensive travel. According to the Automobile Association of America rising fuel costs have encouraged travelers to stay off the road and enjoy their family vacations close to home. This trend has peaked in the wake of high fuel costs and the struggling economy and shows no signs of stopping.
High gas prices may prove a boost for staycations, even when gas prices eventually return to normal. Many families are discovering attractions and events close to home and becoming tourists in their own home cities. Some popular staycation activities include visits to local theme parks or water parks, local festivals or museums. Many families simulate camping trips by pitching tents in their own backyards. Staycations saw a rise in popularity shortly after the economic collapse of 2007, when families started tightening the belt and cutting luxuries out of the family budget. Traveling close to home has become the new “in-thing” amongst families looking to cut costs without cutting the fun.
Staycations prove an affordable solution to costly road travel. A family of four can save thousands of dollars in travel expenses such as airfare, hotel rooms, dining out and activities. No longer will they pay a premium for high season travel or feel the bite when they stop to fill up on their long road trips. Many local businesses are getting in on the act, catering to the needs of the budget minded family that enjoys a staycation. Retailers stock up on pool accessories, barbecue grills and camping supplies in anticipation of the staycation season.
Families must take care to treat their staycation just as they would a traditional “away-from-home” vacation. Many people who stay close to home on vacation find themselves checking email, returning phone calls, going in to the office and catching up on household chores during their staycations. Setting clear cut boundaries and formulating a schedule ahead of time eliminates the temptation to engage in work while on staycation.
With the increase in popularity of the staycation, many retailers see cash-strapped travelers as a goldmine. Some resorts, theme parks and amusement activities have started charging higher prices to capitalize on the increased numbers of families enjoying their staycations close to home. To avoid being overcharged, staycationers have to create and stick to a budget, just as they would on a traditional vacation.
High gas prices may prove a boost for staycations indefinitely. Just as high gas prices encouraged drivers to buy smaller cars, drive less, take public transportation and carpool, many will see staycations as a permanent ritual. The annual vacation has taken on a new face, and families are enjoying the benefits of time together without breaking the bank.