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posted: 6/30/2013 9:00 AM

You can 'get away' from it all without leaving home

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According to a recent survey of the real estate industry, second homes are today's hot properties. Whether it is the home by the lake, a Florida condo or an old farmhouse someplace in the country, lots of people are snapping up these properties for their vacation getaways.

Of course there are a lot of us -- actually most of us -- who are stretched to keep up with our first homes, let alone adding the time, energy and financial demands of a second home. Yet we need those vacation retreats just as much, maybe more, than our more well-off neighbors.

I think it is a good idea for all of us to get away every so often just to experience the change of scenery, change of pace and, hopefully, change of perspective that comes with such vacations. I also recognize that most of us likely need to get away a whole lot more often than we can afford to.

Strange as it sounds, it is actually possible to "get away" while never leaving home, and to do this on a regular basis if we're determined enough. Recently some folks have shared with me how they do this, and I want to pass their ideas along.

One family I know regularly vacations in Chicago. This is really convenient as they live in Chicago as well. Every so often, and at least two or three times a year, they plan a Chicago getaway. They pull out the guidebooks and their file of newspaper and magazine clippings about what to see and do, and plan a two- or three-day trip.

Now, they never really do leave home. Their house, however, is transformed into their vacation home, meaning they keep to a minimum things like repairs, housework, etc. No big projects or cleaning jags. No yard work or trips to the store. They really pretend like they are out of town. And if that means they sit on the back deck for a whole afternoon reading a book, that's just fine. Hey, they're on vacation!

Another friend has taken a different approach. She has built in to her life mini-vacations that she plans two or three times a week. Some of her favorite childhood memories are of evenings at her parents' lake house sitting on the front porch reading. She'd be bundled up in an old blanket, the radio playing softly, a cup of hot chocolate on the rickety wicker table next to the rocking chair into which she had folded herself.

Though the lake house is long gone, she still has created a getaway of sorts in a spare room at her own house. She found an old rocker reminiscent of the one her parents had. She's added a small wicker table, a '60s vintage pole lamp complete with yellow bug light, and an old radio. She even salvaged the blanket she used to snuggle in from her parents' attic.

She retreats to her sanctuary for a half-hour or so of reading, relaxing and pretending she's on vacation. It works. She is more rested and relaxed for the rest of her week. And her family is more than happy to give her this time as she is a lot happier wife and mother because of it.

I do encourage everybody to really get out of town now and then. It is good for the soul. When we can't, however, we can still take a vacation at home. It takes a lot of imagination, and more than a bit of will power, but it is well worth the effort.

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