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Columns

August 9, 2008

'Staycation' was all we ever wanted

This summer, my family traded waves for water slides and lobster for casserole cooked in foil over a campfire.

And, like many other families who decided to "staycation" this year, we gained more than just a little extra cash.

It's not that we wanted to be trendy, or even that we were so concerned about the cost of fueling up the minivan that we were looking to tighten our vacation budget.

No, our decision to staycation came about by accident. We were considering traveling to Hershey Park or visiting friends on Cape Cod when our 4-year-old spotted a water park brochure at a local bank.

On a whim, we kicked off the summer with a weekend camping trip at Enchanted Forest Water Safari in Old Forge, about 100 miles away.

We had so much fun that we went back a month later "" abandoning our other plans and clinching our status as staycationers.

___

The word "staycation" means different things to different people. The term has been around at least since 2005, when comedian Brent Butt used it to describe his Canadian TV sitcom character's "vacation" reading comic books in a field across the street from his gas station.

This year, staycation stories started popping up in the media around Memorial Day, as people began scaling back vacation plans in response to rising gas and food prices. Some news outlets defined the "staycation" as an overnight getaway within the region or state. Others included day trips or time spent relaxing at home.

Retailers such as Wal-Mart and Lowe's did their best to capitalize on the hype, launching "staycation" marketing campaigns for barbecue grills, patio furniture and "outdoor living" accessories ranging from garden fountains to tiki torches.

Staycation become an official buzzword in early July, when Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell announced the launch of "Connecticut "" Your Staycation Destination," a summer program offering discounts for Connecticut residents at more than 300 attractions statewide.

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