I have traveled widely in Amherst, to borrow a line from Thoreau. For 30 years, Betsy and I have lived in the same house in this eccentric but lovable town, and it is the center of our existence. Keeping our century-old farmhouse in shape and tending our two gardens fill up a lot of our time and, although we like to visit friends, we tend to stay close to home and rarely go out at night.
This is the time of year when a lot of people are either planning or taking trips. Many of our closest friends travel a lot, and we enjoy watering their plants while they’re gone and looking at their photos when they return. Everyone is different; but we’re probably more different than others, because we seldom travel farther away than Boston or Cape Cod, and usually for only a day or two.
I have not been on an airplane in the past 20 years, and Betsy hasn’t flown in 35 years. In the 37 years we’ve been together, I think we’ve paid for a vacation rental only once. (We really did enjoy that cabin without electricity on a lake in Maine, which we paid $600 for a week in July three years ago.)
We have had vacation-like experiences every year in the beautiful places where our parents lived, in Wellfleet and Deerfield. In keeping with our belief in radical frugality, we haven’t minded saving the money that most people spend on travel. I read on the Internet that the average amount a family spends on air travel and vacations per year is $4,580. Can that be right?
For many years we have been considering a trip to Manchester, England, where Betsy’s sister and my first girlfriend live. But each year we put it off, and now we’re planning it for 2016. Now that I’m retired, we would like to travel more; Betsy went to Indianapolis by train a few months ago. It’s just that we have such complete lives here, and believe in finding fulfillment close to home.
When you’re retired homebodies like us, it’s important to make an effort to see friends and engage with the wider world, to avoid becoming too insular. We’re not hermits; we are just trying to cultivate a coherent sense of place, enjoying local food and natural settings. We’d like to make our whole lives a staycation.
By the way, what you say to a person about to go on a staycation? “Non Voyage!”