How to Earn Points at Home and Work: Take a Vacation or Staycation

By Tonya Graser Smith

I’m a firm believer in vacations. It’s important to regularly take time to recharge – to disconnect from work and electronics and reconnect with yourself, friends and loved ones.

Taking a break makes you better at work and home. It’s a way you ensure your boss, colleagues, clients, spouse and children get the best possible version of you. I recommend quarterly time off and make it a practice myself. That way there’s always one break fresh in mind and another one coming up to look forward to and work toward.

Yet too often many of us feel like there’s no time or money for vacation. For the most part, these are choices. You are in control. Taking your allotted vacation time tells your boss and your loved ones that your personal and family wellbeing is important. Being overworked and burned out won’t earn you points at home or work.

Choosing to take vacation doesn’t have to break the bank either. I love a good staycation, and have taken many. Now and then it’s nice to explore where you live and intentionally slowdown in the comfort of home.

Here are some great ideas for a great staycation.

  1. Get some culture. Finally take in the museums or local music you’ve been meaning to experience. To save some money, know that some museums offer free or discounted days or evenings and some cities have free music events, so look for those. Also, Bank of America has a national program in which museums and other cultural venues are free to card holders the first weekend of every month.

My Charlotte picks: Bechtler Museum of Modern Art and Discovery Place. For music, Charlotte Symphony’s Summer Pops (mark your calendar for next June) and local concerts at Charlotte on the Cheap.

  1. Learn something Tours of your hometown don’t have to be for tourists only. Book a guided tour – by bike or Segway, for example. Explore local history museums and sites. Practice a new skill – like paddle boarding on the lake or making sushi. Or, maybe have lunch in a new-to-you neighborhood.

On my list: The trails and rapids at the U.S. National Whitewater Center and a cooking class with Chef Alyssa in SouthEnd or Whole Foods in SouthPark.

  1. Be a kid again. Whether you have children or not, tap into your younger, joyful self. Ride a bike, jump into a swimming pool, play mini golf, scream your head off on a rollercoaster, tackle a 1,000-piece puzzle, pull out the board games.

My favorites: Charlotte’s spraygrounds and parks, including Freedom Park; Carowinds and any and all board and card games, including Ticket to Ride, Clue and Uno.

You could also work in a night away from home but still stay in town; book a hotel downtown, see a show, make a dinner reservation at a restaurant you’ve been meaning to try. Sure, there’s some cost, but it can be manageable, especially considering you aren’t paying for flights or extended lodging.

Bottom line: You need time to decompress. You’re worth it. You’re in control. No excuses. Relax and re-energize. And there’s still plenty of summer left to do it.

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