I dislike packing for vacation. Very much.
I either overpack, organising things way in advance in neat piles and visualising outfits that I’ll end up not wearing, or I throw a few random things in a bag, at the last minute, in a moment of panic, telling myself “it’s a quick trip! I’ll deal with it when I get there!” Then end up missing basic comforts.
Such as warmth, because I didn’t bring a jacket. Or “dealing with it” turns into scratching my face with the thin tissue from the hotel bathroom because I forgot my beloved reusable bamboo cotton pads.
Now - don’t mistake me, I love vacations. I love leaving everything I know behind, the routines, the same four walls, the responsibilities. And most excitingly, I love throwing myself into new environments, discovering natural beauty, experiencing my body in different climates and landscapes, trying new foods, new rhythms.
But speaking of environment, I also recognise that we have a big impact when we hop on planes willy-nilly and expect ecosystems across the world to make way for us, tourists. To provide us, strangers to the land, with food, lodgings, water, entertainment…
There is such a thing as eco-friendly holidays. That will be another topic of research and practice for me...but lately I’ve been forced to think more about staycations anyways because, well, COVID-19, which seems to end most sentences these days.
How’s work? Well, since COVID…
Have you seen your family much this year? Well, online video calls and family quizzes are a little different now due to COVID ... You get the point.
And just like us, vacations have not been immune to COVID-19. Making plans to go anywhere has been more overwhelming than at any other time. Can we trust hotel cleaning practices? What if the beach is crowded? Airplanes? Don’t get me started.
So, why not try a vacation where I :
1) do not work (really?)
2) do not spend money on overnight stays and
3) do not pack!
If I really take the time to explore what’s closer to me, can I meet all my vacation requirements? I can leave my four walls for day-long trips; I can vacate the mental load of routines and responsibilities by simply deciding to do so (and shutting off electronic notifications.) I can definitely explore landscapes I haven’t explored before within a two hour train (or bike?) ride (if you are blessed to live in Europe that is, and not in the middle of Kansas.)
Stay-cations, despite the ugly word, have some real plusses for sustainable living. Limiting carbon footprint from transportation, focusing on our often overlooked local environment, including local shops, music venues or restaurants I never have time to go to when I’m working. And just think about my progress towards zero-waste with all those plastic bottles I will not be buying!
The trick is to really make a decision to “vacate,” to choose to be in the mental vacation mode...and to set a budget. How much would I be spending on a week away? How much am I saving on airfare? I may just treat myself to new (organic cotton) 5-star hotel sheets, meal deliveries, and a babysitter + fancy dinner. A shopping day, maybe, for souvenirs and new sustainable clothing?
Best part? I get to keep some of the routines that work for the little ones, appreciate my own walls and soft bamboo cotton pads, crash in my own, perfectly set up bed...
And not pack!