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How to “staycation”

by Betsy Robbins-Mutch

It’s all too easy to dismiss home as an eventful vacation spot, especially outside of summer. Most locals think that the buck stops at fancy hotels with slightly discounted rates, childless spas and a stack of magazines. Not a bad way to spend quiet days, but I dare you to change your mindset, Google Bermuda Tourism Authority (BTA) and really have a look around. There are incredible, tempting and untapped opportunities that await just down the road.

Have you joined the modern tribe of “staycationers” yet? I don’t mean just taking two days off work to sort neglected chores. Instead of stomaching expensive and stressful air travel, only to return home exhausted, try booking vacation days with the intent of taking advantage of our pristine island surroundings. How to do this with the enthusiasm of a first-time tourist? Start by changing yourstaycation mindset:

  1. Trick your brain into novelty mode

Seek out the novelty gap in your Bermuda life. Using a map, start by making a list of five excursions you or your family have always wanted to do, but have never been able to fit in. Circle the beaches or museums that you’ve yet to visit. Opt to park the car and find a walkable excursion in St. George’s or Hamilton that will give you a different perspective.

  1. Start behaving like a tourist

That meansplanninglike a tourist – well in advance and more than you can chew. Start with the initial bucket list above and start researching. With everything from Trip Advisor to Travel Blogs, countless reviews are at your fingertips. Find something you know nothing about and go from there. BTA is a wealth of knowledge.

  1. Take the vacation in staycation seriously

A staycation doesn’t mean a halfway vacation. Approach your time off locally as if you had just spent $10,000 to fly to Thailand. Unplug and immerse yourself in the experience. Log out of email, shut down the laptop, and put the devices away. Airbnb is a great way to find a space that will allow you to escape the familiarity of your home.

  1. Choose a theme

Call your week “Adventure Bermuda” or “Walking/Cycling Bermuda”; or for the exhausted couple, “Wellness Bermuda” and find activities that involve light exploration walks, extra sleep and perhaps a course in meditation at Spirit House. If planning with a group of friends, rent a room, and hire a local yoga instructor to come teach private classes planned around wine tastings, locally sourced cuisine and friendly chatter.

To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted – Bill Bryson, travel writer

In Bermuda, we are certainly more blessed than most in our staycation options, so let’s put on our tourist spectacles and take Mr Bryson’s advice. There is so much more going on in Bermuda then we experience as part of our normal orbit. So be creative and get planning!

Here are some inspiring ideas to help you break out of your local pattern:

  • Winnow

Check out this new app for unique and bespoke bookings. Find hands-on learning about local beekeeping, sign up for personal surfing lessons or explore hidden mangroves, not to mention experience Rosewood’s Wild Edible Tour.

  • Ecotours

You’ve been to the Aquarium, but have you taken one of its Harrington Sound or whale watching tours? Combine these with a guided walk of Tom Moore’s Jungle or Cooper’s Island Nature Reserve, and a culinary farm-to-table or sea-to-table tour now offered by many hotels.

  • Switch up east and west

Swap residences with a friend who lives at the opposite end. Don’t know St. Georges well? Book a  quaint bed and breakfast and take the daily history tour or sign up for one of Kristen White’s celebrated bike tours. Alternatively, easterners can stay in Sandys and explore the ever-growing Dockyard, especially in winter when there are less crowds. Enjoy a BBQ and game of football on one of the remote beaches found on either end of the island.

  • The Railway Trail

It’s growing all the time. Try walking or biking from end to end as 18 of its 22 miles are now open to the public.

  • History and Art

The National Museum/Commissioner’s House, the National Gallery, the Bermuda National Trust and Masterworks all have active programs and have been working hard to upgrade experiences for visitors. Let’s be honest, the glimpses that we get on school field trips leave much still to see. Pick up a copy of Mary Prince’s ‘The History of Mary Prince’or another book on Bermuda history that you’d like to say you’ve read and read it.

  • Plan a weekend around a local event

The winter, while offseason for visitors, has plenty to offer residents: St. George’s Christmas Walkabout; “Just for Laughs” at the Fairmont Southampton; and the Bermuda Festival of the Performing Arts, to name a few. One family mentioned a cherished tradition of staying at the Hamilton Princess for front row seats to the Christmas Boat Parade.

  • Learn a new skill

If production is your drug and you can’t get your mind off work, switch gears by finding something you’ve always wanted to learn but could never find the time.We are tireless about putting kids into lessons, but what about adults taking time away from desks for instruction in tennis, sailing, surfing or painting?

  • Find an opportunity to volunteer

Call a charity that you’ve always wanted to support and ask how you can be a helping hand around an event; get the whole family involved. Studies show that our brain on charitable giving feels pleasure, so, it could be as simple as taking a vacation day to clean up your favourite public beach or park, collect glass or plastic and other waste.

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