Why a staycation is better than going abroad (sometimes)

Deep in one of the world’s most dangerous rainforests, I cast my eyes to the Colombian skies as my ass sagged into a river from a large inflatable tube. My guide, Juan Manuel, chose this moment to inform me we were likely surrounded by lurking members of the FARC, armed with machetes.

“But do not worry!” he said. Apparently, we had no reason to fear the guerrilleros in our midst, because not only was Juan Manuel the second best BMX biker in Colombia, he was also not stoned that day and therefore capable of running away.

You just don’t get considerate tour guides like Juan Miguel in the UK – nor thrilling adventures like this. And yet so many people opt out of international travel and opt instead for a staycation.

A staycation – that’s just boring, isn’t it?

Monkeys in Brazil
When you’re trying to work a little too remotely…

I’ll admit, there have been several times a staycation seemed a good idea to me, but those were fleeting moments, mostly on a trip itself when something had gone awry, like when I missed a deadline for an article and the excuse “the monkeys wouldn’t get off my laptop” didn’t quite stick; or the time I was chased around a 5-star Australian cruise ship by an amorous chef; or the time a Peruvian fruit bat handler made me cry by holding two mating tarantulas in my face at the dinner table; or the time my asado lunch reappeared projectile-style on a family’s prized vineyard in Argentina. (I could go on, but you get the point).

A staycation would have helped me avoid such things. But then… I would have had to stay at home. And where’s the fun in that?

Friends in Amsterdam
When you opt for a staycation, you can play with your friends on your time off!

To be honest, since I’ve stopped living out of a suitcase, words like ‘home’ and ‘stability’ sound rather soothing, instead of scary. Perhaps I’ve gotten less adventurous (or just more ‘sensible’), but somewhere on the inexorable march towards 40 I started to find that taking some time to explore my immediate surroundings was often just as enjoyable as hopping on yet another plane.

The Inca Trail
The Inca Trail. Worth the hellish bus ride to Cusco I guess.

There’s no reason you can’t find fun on your own doorstep.

Of course, you don’t have to agree at all. And chances are I’ll be bored here by the time I’ve even finished this article – it’s the curse of chronic wanderlust I tell you! – but with age and wisdom on my side (ahem) here’s why I think staying home on staycation can be better than traveling somewhere new!

You’ll save time

I once took a 17-hour bus trip across Peru, next to very short lady nursing a pet lamb. In a sack. Her sack of lamb and I were both a tad disgruntled by the time we hit Cusco (where I was due to walk the Inca Trail) and I wished I’d sucked it up and bought a flight. 17 hours is a long time to spend next to an angry lamb.

My point is, traveling takes time. Lots of time. If you’re not stuck on a bus, train or plane, you’re sitting about waiting for one and the farther you go, the more time you waste, it seems. Planning a staycation means making the most of your time and doing only the things you like, in the places you love. With no weird lamb sacks (hopefully).

Giant clogs in Amsterdam
Why travel abroad? Stay home and stand in giant clogs with mum!

You’ll never have jet lag

I’ve been given a shed-load of helpful tips to beat jet lag in my time. Get onto your destination’s timezone early, use the flight to sleep, never take a red-eye, prepare yourself with the ever-awesome online Jetlag Rooster; blah blah blah. You want to know the best way to avoid jet lag? STAY OFF PLANES! Stay at home. You heard it here first, kids.

There’s something to love about every season

In 2002, some friends and I paid about $350 for a week’s all-inclusive break to Cancun. Oh yes. We were as smug as three Brits in bikinis could get, baby… until we arrived to find Hurricane Peter tossing sun-loungers about the resort with a fury so formidable we sat inside for a week, drinking our way through the cocktail menu, scowling at the rain. With a staycation, you NEVER have to worry about weird seasons (or dashed expectations).

Just look out the window – is it nice? Get out there! Is it awful? Simply go later, or watch a travel show about your city on YouTube and pretend you went outside.

Jeep in Boliva's salt flats
Who needs dodgy suspension and bad music? Staycation away from Bolivia.

You’ll learn new stuff about your city

Travelling experiences are cool because we learn new stuff, right? I mean, until you are literally on a 4-day jeep tour of the salt flats of Bolivia (with no escape) you can’t possibly know the pain that comes from a) no suspension, b) a German couple who won’t stop snogging in the seat beside you, c) 7 hours of “Cochabamba” music, which for the uninformed sounds like a haunted children’s orchestra mated with a bad 80s video game and a bagpipe.

A staycation is a great excuse to be a tourist in your city without getting stuck! Home is close, so go on tours you can run from if you need to, dive into history, go to a new shop/pub/restaurant, and if you see any snogging Germans, remind them to take a staycation themselves next time.

Burning Man 2016
Don’t add to the weirdness at Burning Man when you can stay home.

You’ll never need a sitter

Once I asked my boyfriend nicely if he would water my plants while I was partying it up at Burning Man. I arrived home to find an equivalent desert of dead stuff in my living room. He’d forgotten. (And they’re always exes for a reason – pfffft). Finding a responsible person to look after plants, or pets, or God-forbid children is not easy and nor is it cheap. With a staycation, you can care for your loved ones and have a lovely holiday.

You might not find a giant medusa sculpture to hug at home, of course, but that’s the price you pay for having living plants and children.

Vegemite in Patagonia
It’s always good to know you’re close to the things you love.

You’ll always have your creature comforts

There’s nothing worse than going on vacation and realizing you’ve forgotten something that’s absolutely essential. Like the time I boarded a cruise ship in Patagonia for 4 days and discovered they didn’t have Marmite! I know, it was awful. Luckily my Australian travel buddy had some Vegemite, which under the circumstances made an acceptable substitute. But had I stayed at home, I would have been able to enjoy Marmite.

Granted, I wouldn’t have seen the snow-capped mountains, or sea lions, or beaver-dams, or drank whisky chilled by the chiselled scrapings of a floating iceberg… but yeah, I would have had Marmite. Alright, I have a Marmite problem. But that’s beside the point. The point is: when you travel, you have to make do with what you have and do without some of the things you like or love. At home, you’ve got all the comfort of, well… home.

So there you go.

Perhaps the idea of staying home doesn’t sound so bad now? You’ll save time and money, you get to keep an eye on your home, you always know what the weather’s going to be doing, and if you meet any weird locals they’re probably just your neighbors… and they probably think you’re just as weird.

Travel on, travelers, and let me know the joys you discover on your very own doorstep!