A Sustainable Resolution for 2013

Thu, 2013-01-10 14:24

Have you made your New Year’s Resolution yet? No pressure, but it’s that time of year! A chance to reflect on lessons learned. A chance to improve in the coming year. Feeling overwhelmed? Whether you are a fan of New Year goal setting or not, there is one simple commitment worth making in 2013 that will benefit your sense of well-being, the planet, and your pocketbook.

The staycation is an easy way to incorporate people, planet, and profit into your personal goals. The general idea of a staycation is to vacation locally, discover new things in your own “backyard,” support the local economy, and avoid a large travel budget and carbon emissions associated with excessive transportation needs.

Here are six reasons to plan a staycation in 2013, followed by a few ideas to get you in the spirit of planning a local adventure!

1. You need a vacation. Studies have shown that taking vacation is beneficial to your health. Companies benefit from employees who are well rested, as it can bring a fresh, creative perspective to their work.

2. Stick to a budget. Congress finally managed to agree upon a deal intended to avoid the fiscal cliff, help the U.S. move forward with an economic recovery, and allow for continued financial support for renewable energy development. But the new deal also brings with it the expiration of the payroll tax cut, which means a reduction in take-home pay for most of us and a smaller budget for travel.

3. Do your part for the environment and reduce carbon emissions. By choosing not to fly or drive or your car long distances, you have already made a commitment to reduce your impact on the environment.

4. Support your local economy. Stay closer to home during your time off and check out some local small businesses for shopping, dining and other entertainment.

5. Build a sense of community. It’s amazing what you can discover just by taking the time to connect with the people and places around you.

6. Maximize your free time. According to the annual Vacation Deprivation study conducted by Expedia, “Americans earn fewer vacation days than people in most countries, but still leave vacation days unused.” Taking time off to explore the benefits of your local community means less time spent in modes of transportation and more time indulging in enjoyable activities. Days off for staycations can be taken one or two at a time and spread throughout the year to relieve the stress of work pile-up and scheduling difficulties.

Now on to the planning. Here are some ideas to stay local, save money, and reduce the environmental impact of your much-needed vacation.

Outdoor Adventure

  • Check out spots to explore the natural beauty that surrounds your local community. What parks, historic sights, walking trails, and gardens are nearby that you haven’t investigated yet? What about checking out a rooftop garden or a community garden in a nearby urban setting?
  • geocache boxAre you a techie looking for a more challenging adventure? Try the high-tech treasure hunting game, known as geocaching, where a GPS system is used to locate containers hidden outdoors by other participants. If you just can’t part with your smartphone on vacation, there is an app for this. Your car’s GPS won’t help you much since most caches are hidden in scenic locations accessible only on foot. Check out geocaching.com for more information on how to play!

Play Tourist

  • Plan a day as a tourist in your hometown or one nearby. Research online or check out a regional travel book from the local library to plan your day. Walk, bike, or ride public transportation and take in the sights. Take a walking tour, check out events at local museums and universities, visit tourist destinations, and learn some regional history.
  • Look for agritourism in your area to experience and support local agriculture-related enterprises. The website agritourismworld.com has a directory of farms, ranches, wineries, and other businesses open to the public.

Indulge In A Neglected Hobby

Whatever it is that you really enjoy, find the time and place to do it on your day off. Then challenge yourself to add a sustainable twist.

  • Are you a foodie? Seek out a new restaurant that serves organic, locally sourced food.
  • Do you love to shop? Bring your reusable shopping bag and browse some consignment shops, thrift stores, and used bookstores for a change of pace.
  • If it’s sports you enjoy – get out and play! Check out college or minor league sports teams as well as your favorite pros. Ride public transportation to a sporting event or gather with a regional fan club to watch a game at a local establishment.

The staycation is all about getting much-needed stress relief and connecting with the local community, while reducing the environmental impact of extensive travel. What ideas do you have for staying local, reducing your carbon footprint, and maximizing freedom from the daily grind in 2013?

photo used under Creative Commons from vastateparksstaff

By Amy Malloy

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