June 2019

Most months the Let’s Talk Tourism column here in Conexión looks at what’s happening in the tourism world, the latest trends or what brings people to our area on the Gulf Coast.  This month, I wanted to concentrate on what we locals are aiming to do for our vacations.

This came about because we’ve had a change to our vacation plans. We have three dogs (Smooth Collies). Roxy, a young nearly two year old girl, Jack a stately 7 year old boy, and an amazing 13 year old Grand Dame, Lola.  Lola is old for a Collie and although amazing fit for her age, isn’t able to travel and we don’t like the idea of leaving her with friends for too long.  As a result, we’ve been doing local traveling or as they’ve become know, Staycations.

There are many reasons why people decide to vacation near home. Sometimes, like us, it’s because we need to be available where we live. Family finances can also limit expenditures on long trips, so avoiding some of the costs of major excursions can help.  Indeed it could be that you want a break from airports, struggles through security or extended road trips. Whatever the reasons, Staycations can be amazing providing you follow a few rules.

First and foremost, this is a vacation, so treat it like one!  That means no scheduling home tasks or ticking things off the ‘Honey Do’ list. Tell friends and family that you’re away on vacation because you (probably!) don’t want them dropping round and holding you up. You’re away on vacation after all.

You need a plan and an itinerary, so treat your own area like a tourist. Do your research. Call your local Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and see what they suggest. Don’t tell them you’re a local (more on that later) and you’ll be surprised at things they come up with.  I’ll bet there are exciting activities and adventures you didn’t know about.  You’ll also be amazed at how many free or very inexpensive experiences there are around.

Now, there are times when you do want to tell folks you’re a local.  A huge number of restaurants, activities and experiences offer discounts for locals. Just being a Florida resident can score you substantial reductions in many places.

You may find that can stretch to being away from home for one or two nights, so don’t discount some of the Bed & Breakfast establishments in nearby towns and cities.  A short drive can put you in a totally new environment, seeing things you didn’t know about. There may even be experiences, museums, or activities you always promised to do, but never got around to.  Now’s the time!

Just recently, we visited the Wakulla State Park near Tallahassee. It was only a couple of hours drive away and the sights and sounds we experienced were amazing.  Wild alligators, Manatees, incredible bird life and all virtually on our doorstep. You can also stay in the Lodge at Wakulla, and if you’re open to a night away from home it’s well worth it.

We also took a trip to Pensacola – literally an hour away from home – and stayed at a Bed & Breakfast (a beautiful building with comfortable rooms, superb breakfasts and wonderful hospitality).  We visited some restaurants that were new to us, and worth a revisit in the future.  Oh, and we went to an antique car show. The show was free and great fun.

Traveling the world is fun and travel, as the saying goes, broadens the mind. Never forget that you can have fun being a tourist at home and get to see ourselves as others do!