How To Take A Summer Vacation. Even If You Can't Take One.

Vacation: a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity, usually used for rest, recreation, or travel; recess or holiday.

Life & Travel

OK, so guess how much an average vacation costs. Dun-dun-dun-dun. It's a whopping $4,700! And while things like traveling internationally, staying in a nice hotel and planning to eat out for every meal (not to mention how long you plan on staying gone) definitely contribute to whether this could be your price tag reality, I'm pretty sure that I'm not jumping the gun when I say that money is gonna be a little tight for a lot of us this year when it comes to taking a traditional summer vacation.

Still, when you factor in all of the definitions of vacation that are up at the top of this article, just because you may not have a ton of coins (or maybe even a lot of time), that doesn't mean that you can't create your own vacation of sorts — one that doesn't require you spending a ton of cash or even going very far.

If you definitely would like a little bit of rest and relaxation in the upcoming weeks but your budget says you need to get creative, here are some ways to take a bit of a summer vacation — even if you can't really take one.

1. Shop Like You’re About to Go on a Trip

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Aight, y'all. Let's not act like one of the best things about going on vacation is purchasing some new things to take on our trip. Since you're not actually going anywhere (or anywhere far), you can actually buy a few things without guilt or debt because you won't have to spend as much (if you're on a budget, that is).

So, why not use your non-vacation vacation as an opportunity to pick up a new dress, pair of pumps or whatever else you've been eyeing for a while? Something new, whether you wear it immediately or not, is always an easy way to put a smile on your face and take some of the stress off (again, if you budget).

2. Turn Your Bedroom into a (Temporary) Tropical Paradise

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I know someone who had an actual tree (sans the leaves) in their living room. It was kinda dope because, every holiday (and also with the change of the seasons), they would put different decorations on it. Why not do something similar to this when it comes to your bedroom? Because here's the thing — the change of bedding, some new window treatments and maybe a big plant or a faux tree can make all of the difference in the world if you're ready for something new in your bedroom but you don't have the big bucks to go all out. If you would've liked nothing more than to go somewhere that requires a passport and has plenty of water and sand upon your arrival, Decoist is a site that offers 30 tips for how to turn your bedroom into a tropical oasis (check it out here). If you add a pineapple-scented soy candle, a fan and some ASMR of ocean waves, you really could feel like you're in a beach house — or very close to it.

3. Eat Different Exotic Foods Every Day

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Something else that's fun about going on vacation is it's pretty common to either try a restaurant or a kind of food that you've never had before. That doesn't have to change, just because you're going to be at home. If you go to your favorite search engine and put "exotic recipes" into the search field, you might be surprised by the kind of dishes that you can make. Or, if the last thing that you want to do is be in your kitchen, try putting "unique dining experiences near me" in the search field instead for a list of restaurants that you can either go to or will deliver food to your front door.

4. Play Some World Music Sometimes

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There are literally dozens of scientifically backed reasons for why listening to music is good for us. It reduces stress and anxiety. It puts us in a better mood (well, depending on what we choose to listen to). It can decrease pain and discomfort. It improves your memory, strengthens your heart and can even help you to sleep better.

That said, this time, rather than playing what you usually do (shout-out to 90s R&B fans), how about a little bit of world music? It can introduce you to new artists, expose you to another culture and can put your home's atmosphere into a totally different kind of vibe.

For instance, I happened upon a Nigerian artist named Banky W. and the song he wrote for his wife a few years back. It's called "Heaven (Susu's Song)". It definitely put me on the path to check out other artists in his country. Absolutely no regrets either.

5. Have Fun with Google Street View/Google Earth

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Who said that just because you're not physically traveling anywhere that you can't still do some major sightseeing from the comfort and convenience of your own home? Thanks to Google Street View and Google Earth, you can look at various countries, museums, national parks — just about anything that you can possibly think of, all while sitting on the couch or lying on your bed.

6. Be a Tourist in Your Own City

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A few weeks ago, a friend of mine and I went to the Assembly Food Hall, downtown in Music City, for the first time and y'all — I've lived in Nashville since I was three and have written for the major newspaper here which means I spent a lot of time in that area…and when I tell you I barely recognized my own city? Nashville is on steroids right now! My point? I could easily spend a day down there and explore like I was a tourist. Chances are, you could probably do the same thing where you live since there's a really good chance that you've never really looked at where you live through the eyes of a tourist. Hey, it might seem like a corny thing to do on the surface, but you might be surprised what hanging out for a few hours in your own downtown will reveal to you.

7. Book a Hotel Room

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It doesn't matter if you're single, in a relationship or wanting to hang out with your friends, you absolutely must take out at least one day to spend the night in a local hotel. Not some two-star one up the street either. Pick a place that you've always been curious about, go to a discount site like Hotels and book a reservation at a discounted rate. While the world is still trying to open up, you should be able to get a pretty good deal since many businesses are not as busy as they were prior to the pandemic (yet).

8. Do Something “Risky”

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I don't know what it is about traveling to other places that makes us want to try things that we probably would never attempt at home. Why wait to go out of town to take a risk or two, though? Whether it's ziplining, skydiving, rock climbing — whatever, book an appointment to do it while you've got the time off. It's a great way to check something off of your bucket list and create a pretty awesome memory in the process.

9. Designate a “Good Vices” Day

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One of my favorite quotes of all time is, "The excess of a virtue is a vice." Aristotle is who said it. What it basically means is, anything done in excess has the great potential to be problematic — even if it's good for you. So, if you've been eating super clean in order to shed some pounds, you can't remember the last time you've enjoyed your favorite cocktail or you've been craving ice cream for a couple of weeks now and, for whatever the reason, you've been denying yourself — why not use this time off to have what I call a "good vices" day. Nobody is saying to be reckless or anything. Just designate a day when you can order a pizza, roll up a couple of blunts and/or eat a couple of Krispy Kremes to your total heart's content. You're on vacation. Why the hell not?

10. Get Completely Off of the Grid

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There are a few people I know who are definitely workaholics. What's my clue? Even when they go on vacation, they are still "plugged in". If it's not their laptop, it's their phone. A part of why you go on a vacation is so you can take a break away from your regular routine. So, unless you're a parent who is going to take a few days off from your kids, there really is no reason to be around your usual electronics during your down time. Folks can leave a voicemail, shoot an email or write a text. And I promise you, 85 percent of whatever it is that they say — it can wait until you return to your regularly scheduled life.

11. Leave Certain Topics Totally Off of the Table

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Along the same lines of the point I just made, there is also absolutely no point in going on a vacation if all you're going to be doing is worrying about the same stuff that you do when you're not taking time off. So again, whether you're single, in a relationship or planning to do some of this with family members and/or friends, ask everyone to agree that certain topics are off of the table — bills, work, drama…stuff that prevents you from chilling out and completely relaxing.

When I'm working with married couples and I recommend that they take a sexcation, it is amazing how many of them return stressed because they decided to bring their problems along for the ride. A vacation should be about a shift in mindset more than anything else. Always remember that.

12. Don’t Forget About Your Sex Jar

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One of the first articles that I wrote when I first came to this platform was "5 Reasons Why Every Married Couple Needs A Sex Jar". The gist is, if you're in a long-term exclusive relationship, every time you and your partner have sex, put some money into a jar. At the end of six months or a year, count up your coins and do something together that will benefit the relationship — whether that ends up being a trip to Baskin Robbins or a cruise is totally up to y'all and y'all's sex life. Anyway, if you happen to fall into this relational dynamic, there's no time like your vacation to start stacking up some paper. Sex jars are one of the best things ever invented. Using your vacation as an opportunity to take advantage of 'em.

13. Take Lots of Pictures

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Maybe it's just me, but it's kinda crazy how folks will take selfies all day, every day (some literally) and yet, ask them to show you a picture of their family or some event, and oftentimes they find themselves drawing a blank. Where I'm going with this is, just because you may not end up doing anything super extravagant, that doesn't mean that memories won't be made, so be intentional about taking pictures. There's a list of apps for photographers here and an article on almost 40 cool editing apps for pictures here.

14. Rent a Vacation House in the Next County/Town/City

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What if you actually do want a change of scenery for more than a night but your funds (or the amount of time off) are keeping you from going all out? Something worth considering is renting a vacation house, even if it's just for a couple of days. One site that you might want to try is VRBO. While it features listings from all over the United States, what I like about it is, there's a really good chance that you could find a dope house or even a mansion that isn't very far from you; one that you wouldn't have ever known about, had you not specifically gone looking for vacation homes. You can live like the rich for a little while without going into debt in the process.

15. Plan Your Next “Away Vacation”

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Now that you're about to have some downtime, use it as an opportunity to also plan your next vacation that's away from your house/city. When you're sitting on the floor with some pizza, wine and your favorite tunes playing in the background, it can be fun to use some vacation-planning apps to figure out where you're gonna go, when and how much it will cost. And you know what? If you, even 50 percent of what's on this list, you might realize next year that you'll want to take a traditional vacation — and another one just like this too!

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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