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‘Staycationing’ on the Rise: Consumers Look to Their Own Back Yards for Vacation Destinations

(ARA) – With gas prices reaching record highs across the country and air travel more aggravating than ever, a growing number of summer travelers won’t be traveling as far for their vacations this year. The result: a growing interest in the ‘staycation’ – long weekends or mini-breaks to destinations within 300 miles of home.

The devaluation of the dollar abroad makes Europe less appealing to travelers, and with air fares expected to soar soon, more vacationers are looking for closer-to-home alternatives. ‘Americans planning their summer schedules still want to get away for a vacation – this year they just prefer to avoid the expense and exhaustion that can come with a long trip to a far-away destination,’ says Nancy Byrne, executive director of the New Jersey Department of State’s Division of Travel and Tourism.

In fact, ‘staycations’ are among the top 2008 summer travel trends, according to a recent study. ‘Keeping your destination to within 300 miles – or about one tank of gas – from home enables you to travel there in six hours or less,’ Byrne notes. If you live on one of the coasts, you have access to hundreds of miles of beaches and attractions, while those in the heartland states will likely find lakes and rivers to cool off. Across the country, everyone can enjoy national parks and historic sites within that same distance.

East Coast beach towns such as Ocean City and Wildwood, NJ, are gaining increased attention on sites like Yahoo Travel Guides. Meanwhile, staff at the global travel advice company, Lonely Planet, selected many domestic spots, including national parks, as top destinations for 2008. New Jersey, in particular, is drawing ‘staycationers’ from up and down the East Coast who are attracted to the state’s ample beaches and attractions, diverse summer festivals, landmark national parks, outdoor theatres, music fests, sidewalk art shows and a highway system that puts drivers in easy reach of numerous points of interest.

‘For most of the Northeast and much of the Southeast, New Jersey is a quick getaway,’ Nancy Byrne says. ‘No matter what part of the state is ‘your back yard,’ you’ll find plenty to do and see this summer.’

Festival of Festivals

Across the country, communities celebrate warm weather with festivals and fairs, and New Jerseyans are no exception. From culinary extravaganzas to balloon festivals that fill the sky with brightly colored canopies, virtually every summer weekend is highlighted by a festival in New Jersey. Some highlights feature seafood, food and wine, ballooning and kite-flying events. With event sites scattered throughout the state, virtually every resident and visitor can find a festival within a short drive from home base.

Back to Nature, Back to History

Eco-tourism and historic travel are among the hottest travel trends today. ‘Staycationers’ are finding national parks and historic sites allow them to pursue these interests close to home.

New Jersey has no less than 10 sites designated as national parks, preserves and recreation areas, including part of the Appalachian Trail and the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. In 1978, Congress declared New Jersey’s Pinelands as the nation’s first National Reserve, creating the largest area of open and protected space on the eastern seaboard between Florida and Maine. The Preserve encompasses more than a million acres of farms, forests, wetlands and historical villages throughout seven counties, providing a virtually limitless array of activities from hiking, biking and kayaking to bird watching, fishing and berry picking.

For travelers looking to incorporate historic ventures into their getaway, look no further than Princeton. This historic town is currently celebrating the 225th anniversary of Continental Congress declaring this New Jersey town the temporary capital of the nation. Throughout 2008, visitors can enjoy historic re-enactments, history and art exhibitions, music and dance performances, tours, encampments and more.

Courtesy of ARAcontent