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In today's economy, a lot of people are finding they just can't afford travel for a vacation, so they stay home when they get time off - staycation. Vacationing at home has its drawbacks, though. It might make it a little harder to get a mental and physical boost. NPR's Patti Neighmond reports.
PATTI NEIGHMOND: People I talked with say absolutely you can get away from it all, even when you're at home. But there are three really important things you've got to do first: Number one, disconnect, like Joslyn Taylor did.
Ms. JOSLYN TAYLOR: Turn off the BlackBerries. Turn off the computers. And I think this is key: put out of office on our e-mail and made sure all of our coworkers knew we were on vacation.
NEIGHMOND: And this is really, really key, according to psychiatrist Sudeepta Varma with New York University Medical School. Your employer, colleagues and even certain friends need to know you're seriously off the clock.
Dr. SUDEEPTA VARMA (Psychiatrist, New York University Medical School): You know, lot times, co-workers are curious and your boss might be curious, oh, so you're going away. And if you say, no, I'm going to be actually staying at home, somehow in that phrase, they take, oh, well, you will be available to our calls and to our pages. And I think the first thing that you need to do - at least with your work environment - is to set up very clear boundaries that you're taking time off and you're not be reached. You're not available.
NEIGHMOND: Now that you are not available, you can move on to point number two: know what you want. For Joslyn Taylor and her family, it was pretty much what they wanted from a traditional vacation: fun.
Ms. TAYLOR: We set sort of a goal ratio, of we're going to have 90 percent fun. You know, we're going to make sure to approach this as if we were having out-of-town guests from a cooler city than ours, which is not a stretch. So we were envisioning a friend from San Francisco or a friend from Manhattan or Portland that would fly into Dallas, what would we want to do with them over three days?
NEIGHMOND: Now, Dallas may not be your typical travel destination, says Taylor. But searching for fun turned out to be a lot easier than expected.
Ms. TAYLOR: Our arboretum is gorgeous. Our White Rock Lake area is gorgeous. Dallas has tons of city parks throughout the city, but we usually stick to those ones close to home. So we would search out ones we knew were in creakier or more shady parts of town and just discover, you know, lovely places in our own city that we thought: Wow, this is in Dallas?
NEIGHMOND: There were newly discovered farmers markets, museums, community theaters and day trips to quaint nearby towns. And as fellow Dallas resident Matt Wixon found out, when you have small children, even the seemingly mundane can be transformed.
Mr. MATT WIXON (Sports Reporter, Dallas Morning News): My kids just love a train ride, and even like the commuter train that we have here in Dallas, the DART train, they'll go with me on that to go down to this world-class aquarium we have in Dallas and then come back. And they like the aquarium, they certainly do. But their big highlight of the trip was just going on the DART commuter rail train with me because it was something fascinating for them and they had me kind of as a captive audience for a couple of hours, so they can talk to me.
NEIGHMOND: Wixon is a sports reporter for the Dallas Morning News. He's also written about staycations and learned how to look in nooks and crannies all around the neighborhood.
Mr. WIXON: So, going to see, like, the workings of a bowling alley, how the pinsetters work, and that was a big thrill for my kids because they like to bowl - or at least attempt to bowl. And they always want to know what was going on back there when the bowl would come back.
NEIGHMOND: And a very kind manager was willing to show them, says Wixon, who suggests other behind-the-scene tours, no matter where you live - a police or fire department, for example, a TV station, newspaper or even a movie studio. And if you don't have kids, it's even easier to get away. You have spa potential like massage, yoga and meditation. You have restaurants you've been wanting to try but just haven't have the time. And often a lazy day at home or even at a nearby hotel can be exactly what's needed. Back to Sudeepta Varma.
Dr. VARMA: I also work with a lot of couples in couples therapy. And my couples tell me that they are more intimate during their vacations because they feel more rested and happier and more energetic and more connected to their partner.
NEIGHMOND: Varma says just make sure whatever you do, you're breaking routine. And if you're successful, chances are you'll have a rejuvenating staycation.
Patti Neighmond, NPR News.
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