Unless someone hands me a plane ticket to Paris tomorrow, my time off this year is going to be spent indulging in a staycation.

This trendy term pops up every time the country’s economy nosedives and folks don’t have the cash to travel. It can be a very healthy, happy and harmonious thing.

Angry plane traveler at La Guardia/Photo Ryn Gargulinski

Angry plane traveler at La Guardia/Photo Ryn Gargulinski

Avoiding travel means avoiding high gas prices, car leg cramps and roadside diners where the food is so greasy it seeps through to the placemat – even through a ceramic plate.

We get a reprieve from airport delays, showing off our bad pedicures for the metal detectors, and the high cost and even higher calories of airplane food. We’ll also miss out on the inevitable respiratory infection that always seems to hit after airplane travel, regardless of how many Airborne tablets we chew.

And we won’t have to cry ourselves to sleep at night in some foreign country because we so miss our dogs.

We’re off to a good start already.

To fully enjoy the staycation, of course, we have to fully understand what it is. A writer named Tightwad Tod at ConsumerReports.org defines the term for us as “a vacation in which the vacationer stays at home, or near home, while creating the environment of a traditional vacation.”

True reading/Ryn Gargulinski

True reading/Ryn Gargulinski

Sounds easy enough. That means we should leave the bed unmade for maid service, call someone for coffee and eggs and buy a bunch of crappy trinkets we’ll never do anything useful with but like too much to give away.

To complete the vacation environment, we should also strew sand on the floor, hang our damp and dirty clothes on the shower rod for days and lie around reading true crime all afternoon.

This all sounds like my typical week, anyway.

To avoid that trap, we need to break out of the normal routine, warns Tightwad Tod, so the staycation is markedly different than our daily lives.

The toughest move may be to unplug. Since I never answer the door and rarely answer the phone, I’ve got that part down pat.

Too much Internet?/Ryn Gargulinski

Too much Internet?/Ryn Gargulinski

But the suck of the Internet is a hard one to defy.

The longest I’ve gone without Internet was three days at my brother’s in San Diego last summer. I ended up missing a freelance revision deadline I received at the last minute and re-entered daily life with an inbox full of some 482 e-mails. But while the computer was down, it felt like a ball and chain had been lifted, even if I couldn’t check my daily Old Farmer’s Almanac weather and fun facts.

Instead we can find joy, and a break from our regular routine, by trying some funky stuff around town we neither seem to have the time nor wherewithal to enjoy.

Kid on javelina at Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum/Ryn Gargulinski

Kid on javelina at Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum/Ryn Gargulinski

Like a ride on the Fourth Avenue trolley to nowhere or, if we beg nicely enough, perhaps behind-the-scene tours of the zoo, the county morgue or the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

We can find out, once and for all, where the rest of that long, winding trail goes after it leaves our usual path. You know the trail, it’s the one you see daily but never have the time to take. Take time to explore, uncover and indulge. Just bring lots of water.

And bring a sense of adventure. Even treks you regularly enjoy, like a thrift shop spree or a dog park romp, can be enhanced during a staycation. Make a day of it. Pack sandwiches. Linger longer. After all, with your computer shut down, you suddenly have 20 unspent hours during the day.

The other staycation option is to say to heck with the world altogether and spend our time going absolutely nowhere but the bubble bath.

It may still not compare to Paris, but I’ll bet it’ll be more soothing, even, than all the gargoyles of Notre Dame.

Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and TucsonCitizen.com Ryngmaster who plans to bubble bath, yoga, create art, take walks and devour true crime during her upcoming week off – hey! that sounds exhausting. Listen to a preview of her column at 8:10 a.m. Thursdays on KLPX 96.1 FM. Listen to her webcast at 4 p.m. Fridays at www.Party934.com. Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. E-mail rynski@tucsoncitizen.com.

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Have you ever indulged in a staycation?

Did you love it?

What is the most memorable vacation or staycation you ever had?

What was the most miserable?


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