In Praise of Staying Home on Labor Day Weekend

Labor Day weekend. It’s the last hurrah of summer. Soon, it’s back to school or back to work, and in the northern hemisphere the planet tilts away from the sun as we move into fall. It’s tempting to book one more plane ticket, squeeze in one more overnight hike, one more weekend road trip. After Labor Day weekend, it’s closed toe shoes and alarm clocks and carpools and behaving like a grown up again.

Don’t give into the hype. Labor Day isn’t the last weekend ever, there’s no need to act like it. And there are a number of good reasons to stick close to home. Let’s break it down.

Campgrounds are packed. Oh, you wanted to get away from it all, but now, you’re in a parking lot of RVs and listless teenagers and that guy who won’t turn down the Bryan Adams. Sure, you might be able to snap up a last minute campsite, but if you’re going camping with everyone else, you might as well stay in town.

Traffic is a disaster. According to the National Safety Council, Labor Day weekend ranks fifth for the most dangerous driving day in the US. In addition to the dangers of sharing the road with sunburned, hungover, dehydrated lunatics, you’ll share the road with thousands of perfectly sober and sun-screened drivers, all trying to make it home for a good night’s sleep before school or work the next day. You don’t really want to spend 12 out of your 72 free hours in gridlock, do you?

Labor Day hotel rates are inflated. A random search revealed a difference of 50-75 dollars less for rooms in San Francisco on the weekend after Labor Day. Manhattan rates? About 100 dollars less a night for the weekend after Labor Day. Don’t take my word for it, try it yourself.

There are top notch festivals in your back yard. Seattle has Bumbershoot, four days of headline music acts, art, literature… Brooklyn has the West Indian American Day Parade & Carnival with incredible food and costumes. Sure, it’s about West Indies pride, but everyone is welcome. Check your local events site or paper; there’s something fantastic happening near you. Don’t dismiss those small town events, often, they’re an opportunity to fall in love with your home town all over again.

Your local friends and family want to see you. When did you last have everyone over for dinner? When did you go for a picnic in the park by your house? Spring was crappy, and then, you were away and they were away… It’s time you got your tribe together for grilling and shandy and making up stories about what’s next. You’re all off work; take advantage of it.

It’s a great time to take a break. Travel is fantastic, but it would be a lie to say it’s always easy and relaxing. Why not take the long weekend to just wind down? The end of summer is the perfect time to swing in the hammock and mentally write that “What I did on my summer vacation” report. Stock the cooler, park the car, and give yourself three days to just chill.

The weather is great and beer is on sale. ’nuff said.

Photo via Flickr user Myki Roventine.

Awful housing market puts vacation residences in reach

Looking for a vacation home? Well, the time is right! With home seizures hitting a record high, you don’t need to be an infomercial star to realize that prices are headed in your direction. Places that were once wholly unattainable may now almost be in reach, and second homes at nasty places you’d never want to visit (especially regularly enough to have a vacation home there) are moving for pocket lint change.

Last month, 95, 364 homes were seized by banks – a record-setting number (since 2005, when we first started keeping score). Bad loans and unemployment are making the situation worse. So, the time has come for people with deep pockets to take advantage of the less fortunate, a familiar enough refrain throughout human existence. When you close on your new vacation home, though, don’t bring cake for the vanquished: someone will probably get the wrong idea and make a big “thing” of it.

[photo by Casey Serin via Flickr]

Chinese artist creates sculptures from suitcases

Ever packed so much in your suitcase that it felt like you were carrying around a whole city? Apparently you’re not the only one. Chinese artist Yin Xiuzhen had a similar feeling during her recent travels and decided to turn it into art. Xiuzhen has recently been using suitcases and discarded travel clothing to recreate miniature model cities in a project she calls “Portable Cities.”

The idea for Portable Cities got its start when the artist was waiting at the airport baggage carousel for her luggage. Xiuzhen began thinking about how we carry our homes around with us when we travel; the natural extension of that thought was to think about suitcases as the symbolic “home” of the global traveler. Ever since her revelation, Xiuzhen has been recreating intricate sculptures of her favorite cities like Seattle, Berlin, Vancouver and Beijing using pieces of random travel clothing as her medium.

For a generation of travelers groomed on round the world trips, AirBnB and Technomadic lifestyles, Xiuzhen’s art makes perfect sense. What is a home when you’re constantly packing your life into a suitcase? Is it a physical place? Or simply a state of mind?

[Photo via DesignBoom]

[Thanks Liz!]

Buy quality items to decorate your home – Souvenir tip

Don’t be tempted by cute, cheap, useless kitsch that will clutter your house. Find out what products, colors, or fabrics make your travel destination famous, and spend your money on one or two quality items that you will keep and use for years.

Decide on an item you will actually use, such as a table cloth or beautiful platter, or think about an item that will add to your home’s decor, such as a decorative bowl or painting.

Remember to consider your home’s existing color palette and style and chose something that will fit in.

Get an upgrade if it’s a special event – Hotel tip

To get the most out of what you pay a hotel, you may need to work your way into getting a better room. This particular trick really only works for couples. When checking into a hotel make sure to cling to together, be very physical, energetic, and happy. A clerk may ask “Are you here for any special occasion?” You must then say something like —

  • “Yes we are on our honeymoon!”
  • “It’s our wedding anniversary!”
  • “It’s my birthday!”

Any one of these must be said by the woman for it to be more touching and convincing, because the clerk knows that those are very special occasions for her.

Claiming a honeymoon or anniversary may score you a room upgrade. Claiming a birthday may just get something special sent up to the room.