For at least one week a year, Steve Lang, a car dealer who lives in Powder Springs, shuts down his computer and enjoys a week of leisure time with his wife, Susan. They take long walks, go to nearby events and “just do whatever we want to and have fun,” he said. “We do all the things we want to do locally but have not had the time. Binge-watch TV. We’ll go to Costco and get samples, and then I have the best food — my wife’s.”
The Langs are staycationers, people who vacation at home and explore the sights and sounds of their city or go to a local hotel and reap the rewards of room service, fitness centers and restaurants without dealing with the expense or hassle of travel.
Studies show that 54% of travelers say inflation will impact their travel in the next six months, says William Pate, president and CEO of the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau. “They are looking for a budget vacation with a high-cost value.”
A recent study by Bankrate, a personal finance site, noted that 69% of Americans are altering their summer vacation plans because of inflation, with 25% traveling shorter distances and 23% preferring less expensive activities. For those planning a vacation, going to the beach was the No. 1 option followed by — you guessed it — staycations.
Cost isn’t the driving force behind the Langs’ staycation. They’re simply not comfortable having a stranger in their house looking after their 10-year-old dog, Neo. “A staycation means that no one has to come to our property, and we can do what we want, have fun and come home at the end of the day.”
The economy was, however, the rationale behind the staycation for James Richards and his wife, the Rev. Taryn Strauss, a minister at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta, and their 7-year-old twin sons.
“This year inflation really knocked us back, and we’re having to be more conscious of where we spend our money,” says Richards, director of communications for the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. “We thought about what we did on vacations and did it in Atlanta.”
They invited family to visit and explore the city together. “We cooked meals together, went to the parks. Atlanta has so many family-friendly activities. It was great to have that support.”
After family left, they ramped up the activities. They went to Fun Spot America Atlanta, a theme park in Jonesboro; jumped on trampolines; and went to the High Museum where the boys sat on the floor and sketched. One night they splurged, hired a babysitter and went out to dinner at Hopstix in Chamblee and a show at Smith’s Olde Bar.
Overall, they “saved a lot of money not going state-to-state driving, eating out all the time and dealing with all the logistics. We learned you don’t have to take trips to have fun. No one sat around staring at phones,” he said.
Pate agrees. “There are so many attractions just around Centennial Olympic Park that you can walk to and then take MARTA and enjoy the arts in Midtown or shop at Lenox. There are 300 dining options within walking distance of the convention center ... Auburn Avenue is exploding with dining options.”
Amy Leavell Bransford and her husband Steve, a video producer at Emory University, is taking a staycation for their 20th anniversary. “We got married on Memorial Day thinking that we’d always have a three-day anniversary,” says Amy, owner of Aviary Beauty + Wellness Collective. “Fast forward to having kids. No one warns you that you’d be at soccer tournaments, winding down school and so seriously in the weeds that getting out of town is hard. Our dance cards were full.”
They decided to stay local and explore geographic zones outside of their normal routine. The couple will check into the St. Regis and dine at Lucian Books and Wine.
“I want to go to a hotel, drink fruity drinks on the rooftop pool,” says Amy. “I want to do the things I would be doing if I went to Nashville.”
After all, says Pate, “People travel all over the world to see what we have in our own backyard.”