Guest Author - Christine Wilcox
Friends, American, Countrypeople - lend me your ears! Put the following task on your "to do" list this week:
CHECK AVAILABLE VACATION TIME
This year seems to have flown by at light speed. The weeks are slowly ticking down toward December 31st. Do you know what your vacation balance is?
Americans are terrible about using their allotted vacation time. No matter how much vacation time you've got left, I'm going to throw down a challenge: USE IT.
As a frequent solo traveler, it's easy for me to feel like I've been gone too much already when in all actuality I've been working my tail off. There's nothing wrong with putting your foot down and saying "I need time for me."
Here are my top 5 "use it or lose it" vacation ideas between October and the end of the year (well - nearly any time of year will do, but especially so right now).
1. Fall is in the air - grab your camera and head for the hills for a couple of days. If you don't live in an area where there are seasons (the southernmost reaches of the U.S. come to mind) then it's a GREAT time to plan a trip because summer vacations are over. Take a look at going to the Grand Canyon. Check out Grand Canyon Lodges for some great room rates, plan your trip, and go. If you don't mind the drive, you can fly into Phoenix Sky Harbor and experience the beautiful scenery changes from the valley of the Sun on the trip 230 miles north to the South Rim. It's worth the drive.
2. Visit the Redwoods in California. One trip I'm dying to take is to Ukiah. It's north of Healdsburg (which is in the vicinity of one of my favorite little wineries - Frick Winery in Geyserville - so I have a second great reason to go!). I love northern California in general. If you haven't been, put it on your list.
3. Find the smallest town within a four hour drive of your house that has a hotel and go live like a local. Take a book, leave your cell phone in your bag, and go soak up some quietness and spend your evenings looking up at the stars without light pollution.
4. Find the biggest city within a four hour drive of your house that has a good hotel and go take in some culture! You can usually find cheap fares to cities in your general region, so don't rule out flying, either. I have my eye on Portland for this exact purpose. Don't overlook an opportunity to check out Travelocity's Top Secret Hotels. I got a hotel on Fisherman's Wharf during top travel season for less than $100 a night, so it can even be easy on your budget.
5. Take a Staycation . While the term may be passe, the sentiment isn't. Give you, your city, and your home a little attention for a few days. If you have a blackberry for work, resist the urge to keep it with you. Truly take the time.
No matter what you do, take YOUR time. You've earned it.