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SUSTAINABLE LIVING - Staycations

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About 1.3 percent fewer Americans are expected to fly this summer
than last summer, according to the Air Transport Association. Which may
be good news for the environment, since a single transatlantic flight
for a family of four creates more carbon emissions than that family will
generate domestically for an entire year.

Instead of making pricey travel plans this year that damage the
environment as well as your bank account, take a local vacation, or
"staycation." This is a chance to rediscover the beauty of your home
region by taking the time to visit cultural attractions and natural
places that you may be too busy to see in your daily routine.

A staycation does not mean staying home and doing yard work, or the
list of jobs you've been putting off for the past year. "Instead,"
suggests Pauline Frommer of Frommer's Travel Guides, "become a tourist
in your own hometown." Plan to see tourist attractions, historic sites,
take an art class, learn to swim or a number of small adventures you
always wanted to do if you had the time.

A fringe benefit of staycations is that you develop a deeper
connection to your community and hometown. People feel more connected to
a place when they experience the history and natural beauty of it
firsthand. Try to see something different each day — a different
spectacular view, a different museum, a new restaurant. At the same
time, you benefit your local community by pumping vacation money into
the local economy.

Some staycationers go so far as to camp in a nearby campground to get
away from the daily routine. If you are addicted to technology, and
can't imagine a day without email or Internet, then consider leaving the
house and staycationing in a local campground or Bed and Breakfast.
You'll still save gas money and travel expenses, but you'll feel
refreshed after being away from the computer for a few days.

Here are a few tips for a successful staycation:

— Explore the rail trails in your area by bicycle. Most communities
have rail trail projects connecting larger cities by walking and biking
paths. Explore your area by riding in five miles sections each day.
(www.railtrails.org)

— Go to the local tourism office or website for a list of historic
sites and museums to visit.

— Spend a Saturday touring farms and farm markets in your region to
find out what is grown locally, and get a fresh delicious taste of the
local flavors. (www.localharvest.org)

— Pick a nearby town on the map, and spend the day walking through
the whole town, antiquing, eating in local restaurants, and getting a
real sense of the history and culture of the place.

— Take an art, music or acting class. Do something you always said
you would do if only you had the time.

If you really must go out of town, make your vacation as green as
possible:

— Stay in a green hotel when possible. If you strive to be green at
home, why not on vacation as well? (www.greenhotels.com,
www.environmentallyfriendlyhotels.com)

— Travel with friends, and share the costs and carbon of each car
trip. If you carpool, then share a vacation rental including meals. You
form tighter friendship bonds, use less gas and eat out less.

— Consider a working vacation, and volunteer to work on an organic
farm located in a place you wish to visit. Many countries also have
programs for whole families to spend a vacation working as part of a
relief effort. (www.globeaware.org, www.globalvolunteers.org)

— Offset the carbon emissions from your air travel by purchasing
carbon offsets through the airline or www.carbonfund.org.

(SET IMAGE) sdj061510adAP.jpg (END IMAGE) (SET CAPTION) Skip the
expensive vacation this year and be a tourist in your own hometown. (END
CAPTION)

Shawn Dell Joyce is an award-winning columnist and founder of the
Wallkill River School in Orange County, N.Y. You can contact her at
[email protected].

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