I had a great Spring Break. I was able to relax, see friends, go to sleep at four, and wake up at noon. I visited one of America’s largest cities, hiked in the mountains, experienced the desert, and jumped in the ocean all in one week. The weather was warm and sunny for the most part, too. Why, then, do people look pitifully at me when I mention I stayed around Claremont over the break?
“Staycation” is the word I use to describe my Spring Break. Officially added to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary in 2009, staycation is defined as “a vacation spent at home or nearby.” The concept gained popularity in the recent recession, according to Hugo Martín of the Los Angeles Times, in response to rising gas prices and the declining economy. However, staycations have much more value than simply saving some cash.
There’s a certain beauty that comes with spending an extended amount of time at school without impending schoolwork. College is inevitably associated, at least in part, with exams, papers, extracurriculars, and other stress factors. A staycation at college removes these associations, at least for the duration of the time off. During Spring Break, Wig Hall became not a place of economics problem sets, but a hotel room I returned to at the end of a non-committed day.
There are a multitude of day trips to be taken from the newly founded 5C hotel. From San Diego to Los Angeles, La Jolla to Malibu, and Mt. Baldy to Joshua Tree National Park, Southern California has a host of destinations that people travel thousands of miles to see. With resources such as On the Loose, or anyone else with a hunk of metal with an engine attached, these destinations are accessible airport-free, something many Claremont students will not be able to brag about in four years.
According to Michelle Slatalla of the New York Times, her trip to a California beach during a staycation was “just like Hawaii … if Hawaii were free!” Fondly, she remembers, “For the rest of the week, we got to do what we wanted, when we wanted. We saw movies, took naps, drank white wine at lunch, and ate out just about every meal. And I never blanched at the bill. It was much cheaper than it would have been in Maui, after all.”
Much of what is done on a long-distance vacation can be done in one’s own backyard. It only helps that money is saved by staying away from onerous security lines and lost luggage.
In a different sense, is traveling for vacation not only based on a desire to visit a place far away, but also a desire to escape from the cumbersome life that students associate with school? To what extent are vacations quantified by the number of miles one travels or the famous sites one checks off? How often are vacations merely a show, like a car or a Facebook profile, with pictures as proof of its glamour?
There do remain separate benefits of traveling during vacation. Whether traveling offers the opportunity to immerse oneself in a different culture, enjoy time with friends or family, or experience a different natural environment, each location on this planet has a unique experience to offer.
My point is that while there are advantages to going away on vacation, there are certain advantages to staycations as well that traveling far away could never offer. Given the choice, it would be foolish to enjoy the advantages of only one type of vacation and not the other.