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Flipping through my calendars of years gone by, early September normally looks like an atlas of global destinations. But this year brought a different itinerary from staying home, one measured in blocks instead of miles and tasks accomplished instead of destinations ticked off. Not traveling, as odd as it seems for seasoned wanderers, was the best escape for both of us.
In years past, any three-day holiday weekend was a prime opportunity to pack my bag and leave town. The paid Monday holiday gave me extra leeway to maximize my Labor Day weekend. And that holiday in particular, held a long historic streak of great destinations visited. Sydney. Hong Kong. Bangkok. Tokyo. Singapore. Bali. Buenos Aires. Doha. Dubai. Venice. Paris. Chicago. San Francisco. Lake Tahoe. Sonoma. Seattle. New Orleans. Washington DC. Denver.
This year, we spent several evenings pouring over possible destinations for our Labor Day weekend. We looked at airfare deals and new hotels we wanted to visit. We even put tickets and reservations on hold more than once. But each time we needed to pull the trigger, NOT traveling and instead staying home seemed like a better option.
So what DID we do?
We could have been exploring a new destination last weekend. Instead we found ourselves in deep excavation back inside the recesses of our closets, under beds, and into rarely opened cabinets and drawers. The fruits of our efforts yielded six carloads (so far) of donations of clothing and household goods, just in time for those to make it down to other folks here in Texas after Hurricane Harvey. We filled two full large recycle carts and two full large trash carts.
On top of that, we made some cash selling a carload of used books and DVDs. (Full disclosure: the money from selling unwanted books went directly to feeding our cookbook addiction; we walked out of the store with no extra money, three new-to-us books, and smiles.) We made even more by listing some key items on the NextDoor app – and met several neighbors in the process. And we took nine boxes of old documents to Staples to be safely shredded.
All of that purging of excess “stuff” was cathartic. We had time – and room – to reorganize our (still) large collection of cookbooks. We now have a functional coat closet (and a local charity will benefit from several warm winter coats this year). Both of our linen closets are now cleared out and tidy. Our luggage is stored out of the way. So our the supplies we use for entertaining and holidays.
Most important, we made enough room for the installers to put in the first set of new windows into our house.
By staying home, we had the opportunity to enjoy one last meal at a favorite restaurant that was shuttering its doors. We would have missed this had we gone out of town. By not traveling, we had the chance to escape for a romantic date night on a quiet Friday evening.
We still treated the weekend like a bit of a holiday. There was very little cooking, just like on vacation. Instead we ordered takeout, slept in, and stayed up late. We watched two seasons of House of Cards. (Yes, we are almost caught up now!) And we even made it to the VIP preview party for the new Hooters in downtown Fort Worth where we had the opportunity to catch up with several of our friends.
The weekend kept up with my 2017 focus on “less”. And it was the best escape we could have in line with Jim’s focus on doing things “unplugged and unscheduled”. This was the second time we did this in 2017. The four day weekend for July 4 also turned into a staycation for us. We will definitely consider staying home for more long weekends in the coming months as we continue to dig into our remodeling project.
But consciously not traveling doesn’t mean our travel is fading. We are merely regrouping and organizing for the future. Not traveling is merely the best escape for us where we are right now. We are creating the serene retreat that makes staying home a peaceful place.