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Walking Staycation - Take a Walking Vacation Without Leaving Home

Enjoy Your Local Area Like a Tourist


Updated May 26, 2014

Central Park, New York City

Enjoy Walking in Your Own City

Wendy Bumgardner ©

Staying home for your vacation -- a staycation -- doesn't have to mean sitting on the couch. You can find great walking locales and see the sites in your own hometown. Use your staycation to explore your local area like a tourist would.

Save Money and Burn Calories with a Walking Staycation

The high costs of travel may lead you to decide to take your vacation time at home. Spending your time on home improvement projects and gardening can be rewarding but leave you feeling housebound. Plan to get out and about during your staycation to explore local walking and biking routes. Take the time to enjoy the nearby destinations you always left for tourists or school outings. People burn around 100 calories per mile, so this exploration can be part of your self-improvement program.

Where Can You Walk from Your Front Door?

Your first assignment is to pull out a map, GPS or online map, and take a look at where you can walk from home. I like to first pinpoint parks and look for greenway or bike paths that will keep me off of busy streets. I like to have a destination in mind, such as the grocery store, and then look for a quiet route to and from it. You can use a tool, such as the online Google Map Pedometer, to draw and measure the route, and then print it out to take along with you. Even at the house where I lived for 21 years, I was always finding new routes and points of interest.
14 Points to Planning Your Walking Route

Be a Local Tourist

How often have you seen a historical marker and thought that you'd take the time to read it -- someday? How many New Yorkers have never visited the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building? Grab a tourist brochure for your area, and make a list of the places you've never been. Make a plan to visit five local tourist attractions in the next six months. You may be able to fit them all into one staycation.
  • Museums and Historic Sites: You will spend at least an hour on your feet at these attractions. I find slow "museum walking" to be exhausting for the feet, as the floors are often underlaid with concrete and you are constantly stopping and starting. Wear comfortable, cushioned shoes.
  • Parks: Pack a picnic, and plan to visit a local park. Explore the park information online. Often they will have a map of the walking paths through the park, and you can plan to see it on foot. Look a little farther afield for the nearest state or national parks that you haven't explored.
  • Guided Walking Tours: Look up local walking tours. These guided tours often last an hour or more and may cost from $5 to $25. You pay for the knowledge, expertise and entertainment value of your guide. Topics may be architecture, history or local legends. Many places have evening "ghost tours" for some spooky history. As with museum walking, most of these tours are at a very slow pace with more standing and listening than walking. Wear comfortable, cushioned shoes.
  • Map-Guided Walks: The nonprofit volkssport walking clubs of the United States and Canada have more than 1,800 mapped year-round self-guided routes you can enjoy at any time at your own pace. It is likely that there are several in your local area. These routes have a standard distance of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles), with some also adding a shorter 3-mile route or adding longer distances. These are routes designed by walkers for walkers. Many walkers plan walking vacations around these routes. The cost is free, although I suggest leaving a dollar or more in appreciation of the club's work.
    How to Enjoy a Year-Round Walk

Local Walking Events

Look up local walking events to join during your staycation.
  • Volkssport Walks: The same clubs that host the year-round routes also have group walks and weekend walking events with marked routes. The standard distances are 5 to 10 kilometers (3 to 6 miles) and are rated for difficulty. They explore every kind of terrain -- neighborhoods, city centers, parks, small towns, countrysides, forests, mountains and seashore. Any place that you can walk, a volkssport club is likely to host an event. The cost is from free to $3 for most events, sometimes with an optional award for a couple dollars more.
    Going on a Volkssport Walk
  • Charity Walks: Support a charity by joining in a local walking event. You can search for these in local event calendars or at sites, such as Active.com.
  • Half Marathon or Marathon: Challenge yourself by planning your staycation around participating in a 13-mile half marathon or a 26.2 mile marathon. While many people travel to these events, I have always preferred to go home exhausted to my familiar bed rather than a hotel room. If you are not a distance walker already, you will need to start training a year in advance for your first marathon and six months in advance for a half marathon.
    Before You Register for a Marathon
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