Staycation means extra time exploring in the jog stroller!

My husband and I used to travel twice a year, usually in the fall and winter. Even last year, after our son was born, we still managed to go away for a week in September. Although a 6-day stay at a friend’s Vermont condo with our 4-month old was far less glamorous than the 2-week vacations in Mexico and road trips in the American West that we’d enjoyed in prior years.

This fall we chose to stay home. Now that our son is more than a year old, travel for pleasure has taken on new meaning. It’s hard to “get away from it all” when you’ve got a trunk full of baby gear and a little one in the back seat who doesn’t appreciate scenic vistas or long drives.

Not going away was a conscious choice. We contemplated planning a toddler-friendly trip – perhaps renting a house where we could sightsee by day, but also have a quiet place to retreat to during naptime. A place where we could cook our own meals and have room to spread out our son’s toys. It was certainly possible — still, it didn’t seem worth the effort. No destination was compelling enough to warrant the energy required to make it happen.

Staying home had its own appeal. Two weeks off from the 9-5 job (for my husband) so he could spend more time with our son. Extra opportunity for me (the primary caregiver) to work. More time for both of us to catch up with projects around the house that never seemed to get done. And best of all — more time with each other. It wasn’t our typical vacation, but it sounded nice – and cheap.

And good for the planet. Typically our vacations involve airplane travel, and often a rental car on which we put at least a thousand miles. The carbon emissions that this “trip” would generate would be significantly less. Sure we might venture into Boston one day to visit the Children’s Museum – but that was nothing compared with – for example — driving from San Francisco to Seattle and back.

As it was, we spent a lot of time visiting with friends, going for walks, checking out local playgrounds, and just hanging out in our own yard. Since we weren’t working as much, our morning and nighttime routines were more relaxed. We could stay up late or sleep in (as much as our son permitted), and let our days develop at their own pace. We didn’t feel rushed. It was a wonderful reprieve. One of my favorite memories from that time was sitting on the Sea Street Bridge in Humarock with my son in his stroller, sharing a snack of Goldfish crackers, and watching the boats and seagulls pass by as he exclaimed “Boat!” “Bird!” “Cracker!”

The challenge of vacationing at home is that you can take on too many projects and end up resting less than you would on a normal week. That was certainly an issue for us – but still we both managed to achieve a good balance of down time and “getting stuff done.” As for our son, he seemed to enjoy “helping” Daddy fix the tractor and organize the basement.

I have to admit, do miss the travel. There are plenty of places in the world I’d like to see, and plenty of places I can’t wait to show to my son. I can’t imagine that it will be easy to watch my parents and sister leave for Mexico this winter without us. But on the other hand, travel just doesn’t seem important right now. I know we’ll get back to it someday.

By Kezia Bacon-Bernstein, correspondent
October 2007

Kezia Bacon-Bernstein’s articles appear courtesy of the North and South Rivers Watershed Association, a local non-profit organization devoted to the preservation, restoration, maintenance and conservation of the North and South Rivers and their watershed. For membership information and a copy of their latest newsletter, contact NSRWA at (781) 659-8168 or visit