Feb 2009




Outer Banks Getaways February 2009

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Economic conditions, increased airline surcharges, higher fuel costs and something called “vacation fatigue” are expected to keep people closer to home in 2009.

An annual travel forecast released at the end of 2008 by the Travel Industry Association of America revealed that Americans are putting the brakes on extended travel. Respondents said they are seeking safer, nearby destinations for their vacation outings in 2009. Nearly 75 percent of them said that, instead of a break-the-bank annual excursion, they will be taking shorter trips to destinations closer to home where their dollars will go further.

For Hampton Roads’ residents, this could mean occasional trips to a popular vacation spot that’s just around the corner – the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Although I hesitate to use the phrase “silver lining” because that conjures up the gloomy image of a black cloud hovering nearby, if that dark cloud were today’s economic climate, then the silver lining is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money, endure an austerity vacation, deal with the hassles of flying or spend three days journeying to a mountaintop to enjoy some playtime. Simply fill up the gas tank and drive about 90 minutes to one of the small towns along the Carolina coast. Here you will find 100 miles of clean, uncrowded beaches and a medley of wonderful experiences.

Watch a magic show or a musical performance at the Outer Banks Showcase. Visit a Native American, historical, nautical or pirate museum. Walk in the footsteps of the Wright brothers or America’s first colonists. Dare to go on a ghost tour or stake your tent in what is rumored to be a haunted campground. Tour five lighthouses. Ride a free ferry to Ocracoke Island and step on British soil. Go pier, deep-sea or surf fishing. Check out the alligators, otters and sea life at the N. C. Aquarium on Roanoke Island. Stroll through the Elizabethan Gardens or the beautifully restored Whalehead Club. Play a round of golf, hang-glide off a dune or fly in a vintage plane.

Go shopping. While Outer Banks’ stores may not have every knick-knack niche covered, they do have many items that you won’t find in Hampton Roads’ stores (such as baked-on-site natural dog biscuits, local handmade arts and crafts, and Carolina coffee and wines.)

Of course, you can choose not to do anything at all except enjoy your island getaway and hibernate inside an oceanfront beach house. Turn off your cell phone and all you’ll hear calling is the surf.

Kick back in a cozy hotel, motel, inn, hostel, bed-and-breakfast or in one of 12,000 beach houses that border a maritime forest, golf course, sand dunes, state park or one of the area’s peaceful waterways.

A healthy dose of the Outer Banks could be just what you need to counteract workaholic woes and a downward-spiraling economy. It seems that we Americans don’t get away from work nearly as much as we should. In fact, compared to our European neighbors, we only receive half as much annual vacation leave and we don’t even use all the days we’re given. That can be unhealthy.

A recent study at Harvard Medical School disclosed that working all the time can increase stress, which results in a physiological chain reaction. Ongoing stress produces higher blood pressure, creates a surge in adrenaline and increases the risk of a heart attack. It also impairs the hippocampal function, which is that part of your brain that’s crucial for acquiring and remembering new information … such as people’s names and important facts, meetings, dates and numbers.

While vacations don’t guarantee that you’ll be healthier, they do seem to provide physical and mental benefits. Leaving work behind and taking time off may reduce tension, promote relaxation, stimulate your mental acuity, fend off depression and make you more content with your spouse (yep … studies prove it).

So, go ahead. Take the plunge. Schedule some guilt-free time away from work under a Carolina sky. Be adventurous. Leave your laptop behind and trip offline in 2009.

OUTER BANKS ACCOMMODATIONS

BRINDLEY BEACH   
VACATIONS & SALES

Brindley Beach Vacations offers 3–10-bedroom homes, private pools, hot tubs, pets, oceanfront to soundfront, linens and towels provided, all close to shopping and restaurants. 877-642-3224, 252-453-3335, www.brindleybeach.com, rentals@brindleybeach.com

COROLLA CLASSIC VACATIONS
Create special memories in our lovely premier homes located oceanfront to soundfront. Enjoy fishing, golf, tennis, biking. Pet homes available. We are deliberately & selectively smaller. 866-453-9660, www.corollaclassicvacations.com

ELAN VACATIONS
Elan Vacations is proud to represent some of the finest Outer Banks vacation homes from Nags Head to Corolla; ranging in size, amenities and price.
PO Box 1989. Kitty Hawk, NC 27949. Toll-free 866-760-3526, www.Elanvacations.com

JOE LAMB JR. & ASSOCIATES
Offering more than 500 Outer Banks vacation homes, from cozy cottages to?12-bedroom?estates. Call today or visit our website for availability, or to book our vacation homes. 800-552-6257, www.joelambjr.com

SEASIDE VACATIONS
Mini-vacations available year round. Homes range in size from one bedroom to 10 bedrooms from Corolla to Nags Head.  Rates from $39/per person/per night.   4820 N. Croatan Hwy., P.O. Box 3339, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949. 252-255-4999. www.outerbanksvacations.com, www.coldwellbankerobx.com

SURF SIDE HOTEL
Oceanfront in Nags Head at Milepost 15 ½. Awesome views of the sound & ocean. Great central location: nearby world-class fishing, lighthouses, national parks, beaches and recreational sports. 800-552-7873, www.surfsideobx.com

For the rest of this article, see the 2009 Hampton Roads Magazine Source Book, currently available on newsstands.

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