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Staycation Story Trend Saves Travel Journalism

March 29, 2009 at 12:40 PM | by | ()

There's nothing like a funny-sounding buzzword to launch a library's worth of stories in the travel media. Such is the case with staycation, a portmanteau that describes a vacation spent at or close to one's home, exploring local attractions and festivals. Just about every major media outlet has made the staycation a central theme of their recession 2008-2009 travel coverage, providing a treasure trove of previously-covered story ideas that need only to be repackaged and repurposed for a local audience ("Staycation in Cleveland," "Staycation in Schenectady," etc.). I don't doubt the staycation trend is real, but I find it funny just how much the term seems to have stimulated coverage of a phenomena that probably goes back to the Great Depression and beyond, namely, when people have less money, they cut back on leisure travel.

A Nexis search reveals that the first published use of staycation (as far as Nexis knows) was in the Myrtle Beach Sun-News on July 11, 2003. In a story entitled "Sports World Doesn't Stop for Vacation," Terry Massey uses the term to describe nine vacation days spent at home in Myrtle beach watching sports on television and preparing a nursery for a new baby. The next database hit doesn't occur until July 16, 2004, more than one year later, when Jessica Shaw of Entertainment Weekly's Shaw Report included it in a list of things that were "In," "Five Minutes Ago," and "Out." (In case you're curious, staycations were in, yogurt-covered raisins were five minutes ago, and rainbows were out.)

On April 3, 2005, Lee Roop of the Alabama Huntsville Times attempted to define staycations for future scribes as being a time for wearing pajamas or leisure clothes, disparaging the office, and avoiding the pretense of healthy living. The staycation-story trend accelerated from there with hits in the Washington Post (August 4, 2005), Gawker (July 10, 2006), and Ascribe Newswire (September 2006), which deemed Summer 2006 "the Summer of the Staycation." If they only knew what 2009 would hold. At the moment, Google News has 242 current staycation stories for your reading pleasure.

So we know that the staycation meme is going strong in newspaper and website travel sections, but is it holding true in real life? Not for us. We're gobbling up the cheap airfares and hotel rooms and heading to Key West in two weeks. But then, we've managed to hang on to our jobs so far. If we were to be sacked we'd ... probably travel anyway. How about you?

[Photo: unt.edu]

Related Stories:
· Staycation [Word Spy]
· What Are Your Staycation Plans, DeAnna and Jesse? [Jaunted]

Archived Comments:


Not liking that trend cause.. Staycation = missing out on great deals!

Still traveling

I'm with you. I'm taking advantage of low airfares and hotel rates! Never a better time to travel!