Daycation: Daytrips in northeastern US

There’s “YAYcation” where you say to heck with the economy and go on the trip anyway. On the opposite end, there’s a “staycation” where you pretend your yard is somewhere interesting. Then there’s Scott’s devious suggestion, “liecation.

Here’s an option that can be inexpensive but gives the sense of travel. Go on a daycation. In other words–a day trip. This is where you find out what’s within an hour or two from your house and you head there with a sense of exploration and fun leading the way. Look on a map to get ideas.

If you’re living in the northeastern part of the U.S., this article on daycations lists several stellar options for places to go on a day trip. Click on each of the options, and you’ll find a longer article about that specific suggestion.

Here are options I’ve done and also recommend:

On Father’s Day we took a daycation to Zanesville, Ohio to eat ice-cream and ride on a historic sternwheeler. This was actually a half-daycation because it only took half the day.

Staycations suck: Enter to win a free vacation

Staycation. The marketing term used to describe a vacation taken at home may be clever, but it won’t make it any more fun. Staycations inherently suck. Try as you might, you just can’t make yet another day at the movies, picnic or museum outing in your own hometown quite as exciting as a full-fledged family vacation to a new destination. At least, that’s the argument is making with its new “Staycations Suck” campaign and giveaway.

To combat the staycation blues, six lucky winners will be chosen each week from July 13 to August 21 (that means there’s still five chances to win) to receive the trip of their choice. . . with a few restrictions of course.

To enter, all you need to do is follow Staycations Suck on Twitter or Facebook and send a message saying why your staycation sucks the most. The best entry for the week will be chosen based on creativity and originality. Winners will be asked to chose three date and location combinations (within North American) and will receive round-trip airfare and accommodations for two people to one of their selected destinations. The total prize costs cannot exceed $6000 and winners must pay taxes on the trip.

Postcards from strangers

One of the coolest things about having lots of friends who travel is getting postcards from around the world. Sadly, letter and postcard writing don’t seem to be as common as they used to be. Much of the stuff coming through the mailbox these days is either bills or junk mail. Going to the mailbox has gotten to be a drag.

An organization called Postcrossing is trying to change that. This free group allows members to trade cards with strangers. You log in and request to send a card, and someone’s address is sent to you, along with a unique country-coded number. You pick a card, write a nice message with the code included, and pop it in the mail. Once the recipient gets the card and registers it on the site by using the number, you’re put next in line to get a card from a different stranger. There’s also a forum where people can arrange “private swaps” for particular countries or images.

With more than 100,000 members in 196 countries, the idea is catching on. I’m a member, as is former Gadling blogger Abha Malpani. Earlier this year Postcrossing reached the milestone of two million postcards received and one active member has racked up a thousand just by himself.

Various Postcrossers have created interesting spinoff blogs about their obsession, such as Wild Postcards and A Postcard a Day. Warning: Wild Postcards is occasionally not work safe, as the blogger likes old pin-up cards. Nude women with mom hair. Yipe!

Postcrossing is a great way to get cards from around the world and set up trading exchanges with people you may never meet. Consider it a form of staycation. It’s fun for kids too. My three-year-old son is learning a lot about the world. He specifically wants postcards of cars and trains and about half the cards I get are meant for him!

Five great reasons to travel now

You’ve been bombarded with pessimistic accounts of the travel industry’s decline. And, yes, I am fully aware that I’m part of it. Frankly, these reports are true. There is a problem – i.e., people aren’t traveling – and it’s driven by a combination of macroeconomic challenges and company mismanagement. But, these conditions also mean there’s no time like the present to get out on the road and satisfy your wanderlust.

To really understand why now’s the time to travel, though, you need to look past the economy. Instead, think about opportunity. Yeah, some of this is derived from a depressed travel market, but stick to the bright side. This isn’t about the airline industry: it’s about you.

Need to “justify” your urge to toss your clothes in a bag and explore? We have 10 to get you started.

1. The inaccessible is now within reach
Everybody has a dream vacation, a place (or list of places) that has always gripped your imagination. Some have never seen the ocean – except on television – and desperately want to remedy that situation. Others set their sites on the absurd and want to brave the threats to life and limb offered by Mogadishu, Baghdad and Kandahar. Whatever the wish, prices are now on your side. You can cover the basics or the exotic for a fraction of what a similar trip cost in recent years. Hell, check out Abercrombie & Kent’s recent travel sale if you need proof. Every travel dream is closer to reality than it was at this time last year.

Maybe you can go to North Korea … there’s space open for Arirang in the Fall.


2. You need it … badly
Obviously, economic realities can’t be ignored. If you aren’t working and haven’t had a steady paycheck in a while, it probably doesn’t make sense to drop $10,000 on a jaunt to Monte Carlo. Let’s be realistic. But, if you have access to disposable cash, you may want to invest some of it in recreational travel.

Yes, invest it.

The pressure that comes with working under adverse economic circumstances is extraordinary. A colleague gets laid off, and you’re supposed to pick up the slack – and be happy about it! After all, you still have a job. Even if you keep a positive attitude, you’re working longer hours for less appreciation. Your morale sits deep in the chilly waters of the nearest toilet.

You need to do something about this.

Get out of town a little bit. Decompress. Even if you don’t think you need a break, as your friends, family or coworkers what they think. You may be surprised at how you appear to other eyes. I lived through something similar to this in the post-dotcom recession – refusing to sacrifice billable hours for an investment in my mental health. I finally booked a short trip to San Diego and didn’t realize how much I’d needed it until I was on my flight back to Omaha (where I was working at the time).

Those who need a break most may not even know it.


3. Everybody wants you
I’m not going to dwell on airline pricing yet again. I’ve covered enough of that topic for Gadling, and I know I’m not the only blogger on the staff who has. So, just remember that flights are cheap. The interesting stuff, though, is going on at the hotels. Sure, rates are dropping. Again, that’s not a surprise. What you should remember, though, is that the perks are going up.

A lot of upscale properties are trying their damnedest not to lower room rates too much. For them, it’s a brand protection move. A property like the Fairmont or Ritz-Carlton, for example, doesn’t want you to get accustomed to paying dirt cheap prices. And, I get it. Their identities are built around treatment and luxury and attention – not the bargain-basement concept. While you’ll see upscale properties’ prices drop, don’t count on getting the ridiculous deals that you’ll find at mid- and lower-tier hotels.

That being said, don’t be afraid to ask for extras. Even though you’ll be paying a premium for some resorts, you can certainly stretch your dollar – probably more than you think. Ask about free access to the gym, spa credits and discounts on greens fees. Try for an upgrade to an “exclusive” floor.

Many properties are actually building amenities into package that you may not have thought to request. Eden Rock is offering free lessons for kids from the artist in residence.

If you want to go to a particular hotel, get a sense for how badly they want you as a guest. There are plenty of travel deals on the web, but don’t be afraid to make a few phone calls, too.

The secret to understanding hotels is the “room-night” concept. A room-night is the basic commodity of the trade. On May 30, 2009, a hotel has a vacancy in Room 111. If it does not sell that space, it can’t try again on May 31, 2009 – after all, that’s a new room-night for Room 111. So, hotels get one chance to sell each room each night. If they fail, the opportunity is lost. With this in mind, you can see why hotels will be willing to play ball with you.


4. Everyone else is stuck with a staycation
We’re all sick of the word, and the ultimate act of defiance is not to participate in that stupid concept. While people are trying to make the best of a shitty situation, understand that you can create one that’s pretty close to ideal – especially considering #1 and #3. With fewer people traveling this summer [LINK], you’ll have more space on planes and can beg for hotel upgrades with a higher likelihood of success.

Hell, try for a yaycation instead. Celebrate the fact that everyone else is stuck playing tourist in their local strip malls while you’re out seeing something incredible for the first time. Oh, and celebrate the new word that Brenda Yun gave us.

5. You’re the only piece that’s missing
We’re giving you updates on the latest travel deals steals, offering up unusual destinations and providing the occasional tip that could make your travel plans easier. There’s only one component we can’t provide: you. Read about some of the recent destinations covered here on Gadling. Check out our latest bargain travel spots (hell, there’s no reason to spend a lot of money to get out of town and relax a bit).

Then, just add you.

CNN viewers believe staycations are fun

I know, I half-promised someone that I wouldn’t write about the stupid movement any more, but the travel news has been slower lately than I’d hoped. So, you get to deal with another BS story about “staycations.” At least, I’ve kicked in a video this time.

For those of you with addresses beneath rocks, a “staycation” is a euphemism for “the financial crisis has left me too broke or too petrified to spend money on travel.” The concern is real. Anyone who sees a silver lining to our current economic situation probably does so through the lens of LSD.

It’s no secret that fewer people are traveling. Instead of conducting its small “Twitter poll,” CNN could just as easily have come to Gadling, where we’ve hit up a large group of real people to understand their travel plans – or lack thereof.

Well, the slow news days of late affecting the travel industry hit CNN as it hit me. So, they interviewed Matt Wixon, author of The Great American Staycation about how to make the most of very little. His prime example is to look at your hometown the way a tourist would … a total rehash of the boilerplate staycation story.

But, how would a tourist view some bland suburb? Sure, you could always head over to the nearest city, which could provide some relief.

Ultimately, a successful staycation is really nothing other than the command your mother gave you when you spent too much time in front of the television: use your imagination. Since you are responsible for the fun you have on your non-trip vacation, you are ultimately on the hook for making the experience satisfying.


A great staycation, therefore, is just finding ways to amuse yourself at home.

Check out the video after the jump.