Craig and Marc Kielburger, co-founders of Free The Children and Me to We, seek solutions to significant social problems. In this excerpt from their book, "Living Me To We: The Guide for Socially Conscious Canadians," they help offer easy, clear paths to positively impact the world to make your best decisions every day.
For the Girouard family, a mini-vacation is only a transit token away. Their son Louie, now nine, has been in love with trains since he was a toddler. And some extraordinary milestones have happened riding the Toronto transit system, from Louie teaching himself to read with the help of transit maps to an operator letting Louie announce the stations over the PA system to celebrate his third birthday.
Instead of rewarding him with a chocolate bar, his parents take him on a bus ride (another interest of his). On these adventures, Louie’s mom Sylvia often packs a lunch and the pair escapes on the trains, taking note of everything from the station tiles to the sounds the switches make – all details that go unnoticed by the harried commuters around them.
White sandy beaches, tropical cocktails and crystal blue water: this is what most Canadians think of when imagining their next vacation. Oddly, our own country is frequently overlooked as a destination. Japanese tourists make a pilgrimage to the red roads of Prince Edward Island and Anne of Green Gables’ house. Germans crowd our transcontinental trains, ooh-ing and aah-ing at the Canadian Rockies. European foodies trundle along Quebec backcountry roads, sampling sugar tarts and rabbit terrine. It’s fitting, then, that Canadian comic Brent Butt coined the word “staycation” on a Corner Gas episode. Canadians need to follow his lead.
After a vacation, the most common complaint is that we’re more tired than before we left. A staycation is not only relaxing (no more rushing to and from airports), it trims our carbon footprint and supports the local economy. Most importantly, we can reconnect with our surroundings by visiting a Canadian landmark or just exploring our own backyard.
By putting on the tourist hat, locals will treat you like a tourist too, by sharing recommendations, giving directions and becoming more open and engaged. That sense of discovery you normally reserve for exotic locales will transform the streets you call home.
Check out some ways to plan a dream staycation this holiday season:
Turn Off Your Cell
Make yourself unreachable: turn off your cell, avoid email, tell everyone you’ll be unavailable.
Become A Tourist For A Day
Take out a map of your home province, close your eyes and stick a pin in it. Wherever it lands, take the most scenic of routes and stop off at roadside fruit stands, oddball tourist attractions and kitschy diners.
Pick a street you’ve never explored on foot and stop at every establishment along the footpath.
Appreciate The Culture In Your City
Catch up on the exhibits happening at the local museums and art galleries; buy a tourist pass and visit them all.
Splurge at a fancy restaurant. Pretend you’re a tourist and order as if you’ll never be back.
Fill Your Holidays With Music
Go to that weekly open mic or karaoke you’ve been meaning to attend.
Discover New Sports
Use a new sport to discover the area: look into nearby locales to parasail or hangglide, snowshoe or skate.
Explore New Areas In Your City
Explore the Little Indias and Italys, Chinatowns and Koreatowns that transport you halfway around the world without leaving the city limits.