I have just recently begun to allow myself to dream of real live travel again. In fact, I’ve put down a deposit on a tour of Italy next fall through Viaggi di Gusto. Will I go? Or will this be another year of “staycation”, desired or not? Let Linda introduce you to the joys of both. – Sarah
By Linda Lenzke
“You don’t have to go far to travel.” — Me
“If you lived here, you’d be home by now!” — Firesign Theater
I often introduce reminiscences and musings with a quote or two. The same is true today as I muse about travel, or the lack of it. The first quote, I attribute to myself, “You don’t have to go far to travel.” The second to a favorite radio and improv comedy troupe from my hippie days, Firesign Theater, when we traveled in our own imaginations with help from mind-altering substances, “If you lived here, you’d be home by now!”
Yes, both quotes capture my experiences with travel, or the lack of it, this pandemic year. To some degree I’ve been on an extended staycation. A staycation, defined by the Urban Dictionary is “A vacation that is spent at one’s home enjoying all that home and one’s home environs have to offer.”
I was laid off from my 12-year career on February 27th, 2020, the eve of the pandemic. I was told it was due to a company reorganization, not my performance. I suspected it may have had something to do with my age and/or progressive politics. Gratefully — and very quickly — I found a new position with an LGBTQ+ community center, employing my decades of work as an activist and a volunteer. Grateful.
Because of the pandemic my new half-time position, would not begin for a couple of months, so I had an unscheduled staycation. As I’ve aged and my travel budget has lessened, I’ve grown to like staycations. I usually take one in the spring wherein I still go to work, yet attend the Wisconsin Film Festival for 10 days, after work and on weekends. I get to travel again in my imagination, visiting people and places outside of my day-to-day life. I’m a lifetime cinephile and have had adventures since childhood sitting in movie theaters or my darkened living room.
In early fall, I usually take my second staycation, scheduling an extended period of time the waning days of summer, my favorite time of year. While students return to school after their families unpack from vacation and pack those back-to-school backpacks full of brand-new school supplies, I take a break from my day-to-day work routines and make my “to-do only if I want to lists.”
For me the essence of a staycation is to practice spontaneity (yes, I admit that I need to practice), sleep in if I want to, brunch at home or out with friends, attend movie matinees on weekdays, plan lots of coffee dates, stay in pajamas if I want to and take a vacation from showering for a day, and most importantly write, and edit, and write some more. I read too, essays and blogs, opinion pieces online, poetry and movie reviews and reread my journals.
To some degree, the latter describes the extended staycation I’ve been on during the lockdown, shelter-in-place at home. Even when I returned to work at my new job, due to the pandemic, I worked a hybrid schedule, two days at the office and two days at home. Though I skipped showers some days, added lounge wear bordering on pajamas to my daily wardrobe, I had to give up brunches and coffee dates with friends and movies in theaters. On the other hand, I added streaming subscriptions for more online content and Zoomed with friends, for work, to learn, and to practice my recovery. I traveled sitting at my desk in my writing alcove. I blogged and journaled a lot too.
Travel for Work
I’ve been lucky to have the opportunity to travel for work over the years. When I worked for a children’s book publisher, my sales territory was the East Coast states. I would attend gift shows and book fairs, plus travel for a few days and visit my independent booksellers to introduce them to our new frontlists and write orders. I stayed in NYC at Times Square when I exhibited at the Javits Center.
I visited some of my favorite places, Boston, MA, Portland, ME, Providence, RI, and for library conferences in Portland, OR. When I worked for Mercedes-Benz and other luxury car brands, I traveled to Germany for my first and only to-date international travel, and in the states, trips to Las Vegas, Chicago, and more. As much as I enjoyed the places I visited for work, I tired of the hotels and room service, the separation from home and my daily routines.
Travel for Pleasure
My favorite part of traveling for pleasure is in the research, pre-planning, and list-making before a trip, whether it’s a vacation to a favorite destination, mine is Provincetown, Cape Cod, or an extended stay in Door County. I prefer staying in Bed & Breakfasts, cabin getaways in Northern Wisconsin, or camping at my favorite State Parks. As I age, I might consider Glamping as an option.
I’m a car aficionado, so I enjoy a weekend road trip, especially during the changing of the seasons. Those tend to be more spontaneous and are impromptu adventures, whether discovering an antique shop, roadside diner, small town supper club, or nature preserve or park.
Future Travel Plans
On Friday, I received my second vaccination. In two weeks, according to the CDC, I’m good-to-go. My upcoming travel will consist of visiting family again, celebrating holidays that I sacrificed the past year, and a road trip to my friend Janet’s new home in Minnesota, who is Louise to my Thelma.
In the end I must admit, I’m grateful. I survived a pandemic year. As an ambivert, I learned to lean into and enjoy my introvert habits. As an extrovert, I’m ready to hit the road again!
© 2021 Linda Lenzke
Linda lives in Madison, Wisconsin and has been writing poetry, prose, comedy, and spoken word monologues for the past 35 plus years. She’s a founding member of LGBTQ Narratives Activist-Writers, self-publishes poetry chapbooks, and blogs at Mixed Metaphors Oh My! Recently, Lenzke joined Madison Independent Filmmakers and is the creator and co-producer of a web series in production, Hotel Bar.