July -Weekend Getaways


Mini-Vacations on a Budget

By Deborah Lambeth

A vacation doesn’t need to be expensive or elaborate to give you a much-needed break from the stress of your everyday routine. Sometimes the most relaxing getaways are right in your own backyardIt’s almost that time of year when families drag out the maps, travel brochures, and other things to plan their annual “summer vacation.” While some people look upon this as a chore, others find it to be a calming experience—envisioning a week away from work on some tropical island doing something you have never done before. Oh, that life could be so blissful! Of course, coming back down to earth from that momentary escape from reality, one does have to plan; there are reservations to be made, expenses to be calculated, asking for the vacation time away from work, etc., etc., etc. .

I’ve always been amazed about the “summer vacation” process. Yes, getting away for a few days can be a relaxing adventure—just not having a schedule can be relaxing. However, only one week a year does not a refreshed person make! Monthly “retreats” should be planned so that there is some regularity to escaping from the daily grind. Monthly retreats do not have to be elaborate or expensive. There are many inexpensive opportunities that abound if you only look around you.

Especially in the winter months, if you live near the beach, driving there can be relaxing—even if the trip is just for the day. The beaches aren’t crowded and they can be an excellent place for a meditative or invigorating walk. Look for interesting shells that you may not see during an “in-season” beach trip. Pack a picnic lunch and spread out the beach towel. Allowing your mind to take the proverbial “deep breath” is an important part of a mini-retreat. Stop yourself from thinking about work or the things you >havewant to do during this time. Do not have a schedule.

Live near the mountains? While the beach may have a definite off-season, the mountains very rarely do. During the summer months, people tend to travel there to escape the heat and humidity of a lower elevation. Skiing and leaf watching often bring people to the mountains during the winter months. Consequently, there are many options available to you at any time during the year. During the summer, visit the local farmer’s market and pick up some fresh vegetables to cook once you return home. See if there’s an upcoming mountain festival, fair, or special tour event, and make plans to attend. Contact local rafting companies to see if they offer rafting or canoeing trips. Ask the locals about interesting places to hike. If there is a scenic parkway or byway, plan a drive—and make sure you pack a picnic lunch!

Another opportunity for a day trip is to visit a neighboring town, especially one you’ve not spent time in before. Sometimes just driving 45 minutes away, having dinner and seeing a movie can feel like you’ve been gone all weekend—and all you’ve done is just change locations for a day! Explore the town—drive down main street, park your car, and just stroll around visiting local shops. Stop at a cemetery and look at the tombstones. Not that you need to be planning yours at this point! But it can be very interesting to read tombstones and try to learn a little about the history of the town. Ask around to find a good local restaurant and have dinner there, instead of at a chain you’re familiar with. Often the most memorable meals are enjoyed at unique places off the beaten path.

Retreats such as these, just like vacations, offer a chance to relax, regroup, recoup, and renew. But they don’t have to be spectacular events that require months of planning or reservations in advance. Whether they are week-long, day or overnight trips, it’s important to get away at least once a month, from the regular routine and do something different. Be creative and have a happy retreat!

By Buzzle Staff and Agencies
Published: 1/25/2005

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