Should You Stay or Should You Go? (Go Now)

Posted on July 2, 2012 by Marian Salzman

With many of us still shaken to the core from an unsteady economy, the thought of a staycation holds some appeal as our thoughts turn to how we’ll spend any days off surrounding the Fourth of July. Staying close to home is the de facto choice for those of us scheduled within a microdot of our lives who can’t seem to find the time to plan a trip somewhere international, let alone domestic. As a big proponent of everything local, I love the idea of a staycation. But even though it’s a nice way to recharge the batteries, it is the provenance of the exhausted and overscheduled. Here’s why I think you should get away from it all, whether this week or later this summer.

Though it’s a lovely thought to stimulate the economy in your own backyard, there is simply no substitute for going somewhere else. Amid all the stress of daily life and the inability to decipher what is home and what is work, making a clean break and hopping on a train, in the car or on a plane does something for the psyche that a stay-at-home respite can’t soothe. If you are in business, you must book a flight to at least one of the BRIC nations and see what’s happening there, or find out what’s on the radar when it comes to anything from the art scene in Buenos Aires to the booming ecotourism industry in places such as Belize.

Because the Internet has numbed us into a sort of experiential osmosis (some might say psychosis), we sometimes feel as if we see all we need to see and know all we need to know online. Although it’s hard to imagine life without the almighty Google, the engineers in Mountain View, Calif., still haven’t figured out a way to let you taste those incredible dumplings from that street vendor in Shanghai through your screen, or listen to music in a cool venue in Amsterdam on a balmy summer night. And lest you think I’ve succumbed to a romantic view of seeing the world, I haven’t—I just feel strongly that choosing to see the world through a wireless connection is not going to make you a more well-rounded spouse, parent, friend or colleague.

Had I not had the great fortune to travel the world all these years, I am not sure I would have the foresight or insight to understand why consumers act the way they do or to understand the trends that shift culture and change the game, over and over again. I’ve recently talked about the need for today’s trend experts to immerse themselves in “real” places such as flea markets and supermarkets and coffee shops. How else can you learn about people if you don’t experience them firsthand?

So for all of you overworked, overscheduled and overwrought types—and I’m including myself—I think you really need to go, not stay, when planning your next period of time off. (I’ll be in London, in the country we left 236 years ago, for a client meeting this week; vacation will come later.)

Getting away from home is the only way to recharge and reboot in this new version of life that’s blurred beyond belief. The promise of travel rarely disappoints. So step away from that desk and go forth—the world awaits.

[photo: creativecommons.org/SustainableTrip.org]

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