Monday, December 19, 2011

The Place Where We Live: Bioregional Vacationing

Written by Karen

In wintertime, sometimes we begin thinking about an escape to another place. Whether because of the hectic nature of holidays or the shorter amounts of daylight, a vacation is welcome downtime. It can also be some of the only “unplugged” time families have with each other. These days, however, it can also be first on the chopping block of the family budget. But it doesn’t have to be.

In our family, we love to take our vacations right here. I call it the bioregional vacation. It can be an extended time of up to a week (or longer) or just a day or two (Unplugged Sunday). Taking the time to really see your own place the way a tourist might see it is so satisfying. It takes a little planning to take a vacation in your own area since the temptations of work, meetings and everyday tasks can beckon, but it can easily be done. 

Tips for the local vacation:
• Travel to a nearby town or even somewhere in your own, but pack as if you are traveling far away. Do not bring a computer. Do not schedule any day-to-day tasks or meetings during that time.
• Tell colleagues or clients you are going on vacation and not to call unless it is an emergency.
• Do not go home until the vacation is over.
• Consider a house trade with local friends or enjoying a bed and breakfast that you have actually stopped by to inspect ahead of time. 
• Make a list of the places in the area that you would like to experience.
• Notice the prominent natural landmarks of your area. Here, it is the river. Often, my husband and son take a boat out on the river for the afternoon, giving me a much-loved break of alone time, creative time, or tea-time with a friend.
• Call a friend for tea or lunch out. So often we see a friend, say we’ll connect soon, and then never do. Use this time to enjoy your friends along with your family!
• Spend time at a local farm; kids love this. Take a tour, wander around the farm, and stop for produce at the end. You could even volunteer on a work day.

Local vacations offer some special things that faraway vacations do not. 
• Friends can come along with you. One year, during my birthday, we rented an off-the-grid forest retreat cabin for a week. It was located 30 minutes from home. Then we invited a few friends to stay a couple of days with us and celebrate.
• When you enjoy a specific activity or place, the experience is repeatable. No need to say, “We’ll have to come here again” and then never make it back.
• When your vacation ends, it is a short trip home. You can enjoy the entire last day, head out in the evening, stop for a leisurely dinner and then be home.
• No airline or rental car costs means saved money and a longer or more involved vacation. Especially for families with children, this can be huge.
• Kids grow up knowing their local landscape.

The place where we live.
The more we explore our local native area, the more we find to appreciate and love. Making it a vacation gives us an excuse to enjoy it without feeling like we should be doing something else. 
What began out of financial necessity has become rich and sustaining. My husband and I are tuned in to our local issues, largely because of our focused interactions with the landscape. We love and feel supported by our community.
We have stayed in: a yurt; a solar-powered mountaintop estate; an off-grid forest cabin and cottages near the beach to name a few. We enjoy a variety of parks and farms and even finally walked across the Golden Gate Bridge! 
Going deeper, finding more layers, and developing relationships, the place where we live becomes more than just a location; it feels like we really live here. And when winter comes, there is less restlessness, and a growing sense of anticipation for our area’s seasonal treasures and what else we might discover here. 

Where would you go if you were to vacation in your own place? 

With whom would you spend the time?


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