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Staycation vs. Vacation

2019 VPS GRAD and GRAS President Trini Woodman reflects on her recent staycation where she took some time to quite literally, stop and smell the roses.

I have never been a gardener. Until last year I wasn’t even allowed to own a house plant lest I kill it within a few weeks of purchase. However, during the first lockdown I was regaling a friend with stories of my garden adventures with my parents and they asked if I was a gardener by nature or a gardener by COVID-19.

What does this have to do with taking leave we ask? For the past week I have been on leave. The activity I’ve chose to occupy that time outside of binging Netflix and sleeping is gardening. It’s been incredibly, and surprisingly, therapeutic. Every day after my extended breakfast in bed and lounge I put on my audio book and hack the garden to pieces. Weeds begone!

Before this I was like every other good millennial. Each holiday spent over seas. A new destination each time, and a year of planning and excitement in the build-up. Leave was for leaving, and occasionally for moving to a new house. Why on earth would I use it to stay home?

COVID-19, the exhaustion of being glued to the media and a volatile living situation has forced me to reconsider that perspective. Unfortunately, it is impossible to predict when the state and country borders will be lifted. This forced me to consider how my leave could best be utilised whilst at home.

Let’s unpack what taking leave means. For me I use leave to go on long trips filled with days of walking and stimulation through learning new places and facts different from my day to day. I use it to recuperate my mental and physical energy, taking a break from the self-imposed fast pass of my life. Considering these elements gardening has been my perfect iso leave activity. It has been a series of new learnings as I work out what I should and shouldn’t be pulling, cutting and leaving. The physical exertion has been an intense full body work out as I’ve lifted, moved, put down three trailers full of plants at least three times.

This leads me to consider maybe I’ve been thinking about leave wrongly for my whole working life. Maybe there’s an argument to be made for the staycation. Maybe you have too, what could your staycation look like?

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