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For romance or festivals, a staycation might be answer for you

December, 2010

You’d love to go away for a December holiday to slice away a bit of a Montreal winter … but you can’t afford it. Sure, you’ve put a way $500 or $600, but how far is that going to take you? Here are options for the skinny pocketbook during our holiday season.

What about a weekend stay in a luxurious hotel room, indulging in the warm water of the hotel’s pool and hot tub … perhaps a massage in their sumptuous spa? Afterward, supper in the atrium, served by solicitous waiters attentive to your culinary niceties. Your holiday is a short dream vacation in your home town.

What folks have been choosing in droves is a “staycation,” a sojourn they partake of at home or within métro distance. Staycations have become enormously popular in recent, economically lean years. The term has become so commonplace, it appeared in a last year’s edition of the Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary.

It’s a stress free way to get to where you want to go (no airport or driving tension). And you can enhance your staycation by timing your holiday to take advantage of Montreal’s many treats – like the jazz or comedy festivals or museums – best tasted, in my opinion, from the comfort of a hotel.

For the romantically inclined, a staycation is a way to enhance your relationship with your partner or special other. Another little upside is that you’re keeping your tourist dollars in your own home town.

Celebrate special times, like Valentine’s Day, a birthday or anniversary. There are loads of reasons to pamper yourselves.

If you want to stretch $500 or $600 further, lets say for two or three weeks, then there is, said Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz: “no place like home.”

You have to imagine Montreal with fresh eyes. Certainly, we are all familiar with such icons as Old Montreal and St. Joseph’s Oratory. But have you ever taken one of those open air tram-like tourist buses schlepping out-of-towners to peer into those unique places that make up our urban environment?

For your “virtual” vacation, do some planning … to make it spontaneous. Brainstorm about the things you’ve always wanted to do in Montreal but never did. Since we often get frazzled after making “arrangements,” it’s best to get it done before you begin your staycation. Consider the restaurants you’ve always wanted to try and avoid disappointment by making reservations.

Maybe a day trip? Take a bus to Mont Tremblant at Christmastime. Go for a hike in the Eastern Townships. Splurge and you can stay overnight (it’s cheaper during the week). Or perhaps a worry-free double-header movie, since you know you can sleep in late the next morning. Maybe a concert at Place des Arts or theatre at the Segal Centre.

A staycation means relaxation in the comfort of a familiar place: cuddling up with a good book for the better part of a day or skiing in the middle of the week. Make sure you put your house in order, as though you were expecting your home-swap partner. This means no laundry or house cleaning during your staycation. No to-do-list! (Unless it’s for your vacation.)

Our world of constant connectivity makes it a formidable challenge to cut the umbilical cord. A successful staycation takes that feature of modern life into account. Bounce your emails with a vacation notice. Turn off mail delivery and local newspapers (pick-up the Herald Tribune instead) and reduce the volume on your answering machine to nil.

If you’re still spending some time at work during your retirement or contributing volunteer hours, tell the folks there that you’ve planned a unique getaway with your partner and won’t be available during your holiday slot.

Having planned ahead, you’ve made, postponed or otherwise eliminated appointments for haircuts, dental cleaning, acupuncture, nails and other assorted features of daily life. You need to set some strict rules for yourself; otherwise, your staycation will be just another hassle in your life.

And remember; pick up all those calls and emails only after you’ve “returned” home from your staycation.



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