Sometimes, the best trip is in your own backyard

By Julia Drewniak

While it might have been nice to take a semester and study abroad, I never really wanted to miss a moment in Charlottesville, V.A.

I could have perfected my Spanish in South America or rode the elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower. I could have even just spent time at the most luxurious resorts and decadent restaurants in town. But I too much enjoyed half-price IHOP breakfasts with the people I care about.

With the recession still rearing it’s ugly head, many people have turned to “staycations” to get away from it all. Rather than battling traffic and ticket lines, they’re opting to take their R&R time at home. These non-trips are becoming so popular that Oxford Dictionary has added the word to their compendium. And, unlike typical vacations, it’s easy to plan a staycation – the hardest part will be going back to work knowing there are things to explore right around the corner.

Spending the last two summers in Charlottesville allowed me to have more time with my friends and, this summer, get to know some of the younger students. It’s also forced me to get creative when deciding what to do.

Many nights have been spent hanging out at someone’s house before eventually heading over to UVA to enjoy the splendor and beauty of the architecture and one of the univeristy’s many traditions. We talked, played games, watched movies — anything young adults would usually do while hanging out with their friends. The best part is that it all cost next to nothing but made great memories nonetheless.

Sometimes we’d make impromptu trips, going where our spirits (and my car) took us. At 10 p.m. one night, my housemates were hungry and nothing was open in Charlottesville. Time for a roadtrip — to a Waynesborro Sonic about 30 miles away.

Having spent four school years and two summers in the area, I’d learned to think like a local. I always picked up the local news-weekly magazines to find out what was happening — farmer’s markets, free and cheap concerts and theater productions, new restaurants opening, etc. I tried to find the best places to go with the little money I had, and I dragged as many people with me as I could. The more time spent together, the better we got to know each other.

Now that I’ve graduated and moved home Fredericksburg, my staycation place has become my vacation place, and I make the effort to drive down as often as I can. It’s not because of the hot attractions — it’s because of the friends that made it worthwhile to stay.

Photo provided by author.

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