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updated 5/15/2008 1:41:37 PM ET 2008-05-15T17:41:37
OPINION

It’s the summer of the travel mooch. No, wait. The staycation. The mommycation? How about the voluntourist?

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Seems like everyone wants to slap a catchy name on a common concept and christen it as the latest industry trend. And there’s no shortage of buzzwords to take us into this summer. (Even we’re not immune to writing about an occasional trend.)

For instance:

Travel mooch
Cameron Siewert, writing for the Window Seat blog claims a “travel mooch” is a special kind of mooch — more specifically, “someone who takes that trip to Prague with a friend whose brother lives there and can offer free accommodations, someone who shows a keen interest in visiting those distant relatives with a house in the Hamptons, or someone who will call up that high-school classmate they ran into over the holidays to announce — surprise! — that they’re planning to visit the city, but man are hotels expensive!”

This is new? People have been using their friends and relatives for convenient room and board purposes for as long as there has been a need for a vacation. Come on.

Staycation
Staycationing, in case you were wondering, is a vacation that takes place either at or near home. The average American family can’t afford to fly to Disneyland this summer, so families are opting to stay close to home.

Peter Yesawich, chairman of Yesawich, Pepperdine, Brown & Russell, an Orlando-based travel marketing firm, is dead serious about the staycations trend.

“Our research shows that people are taking fewer vacations because there is so much time poverty with job and family obligations,” he wrote. “The time-starved can’t afford to use up their vacation waiting around airports and dealing with delays, so they choose to escape in their own city for a day or even a long weekend.”

Oh really? And this just started? This looks like someone has just taken a trend that dates back to, oh, the first permanent human settlements, and cleverly repackaged it.

Momcation
No kidding. Momcation. It would be more shocking to hear that the price of oil is rising than it is to hear that moms everywhere just need a break.

This isn’t to be confused with the “mancation” — another silly way of saying that the guys are going to get together and engage in “guy” activities, possibly involving sports, gambling or chasing women — no wives or girlfriends are allowed. It was only fair and logical to think that women, especially mothers, needed — no, deserved — an equivalent sabbatical.

The other day, someone claimed the mancation has probably been around since the first caveman took his club and went hunting with the others in the tribe. If that’s true, then its also safe to assume the momcation has been around since cavewoman started having children.

The momcation seems, at least from an advertising standpoint, to be largely targeted at 30-something female mommybloggers (another buzzword I happen to find particularly annoying). The advertising targeted specifically at this burgeoning demographic is patronizing, at best. It touts special “pamper-yourself-you-deserve-it” trip giveaways and demands to know: “Don’t you deserve a momcation?”

One journalist quipped that at this rate, next year we’ll be hearing about “kidcations” and “seniorcations” or maybe “churchcations” or “gaycations.”

Well, why not become a voluntourist while you’re at it?

Maybe it’s because volontourists — do-gooders who use their vacation time to help a worthy cause — have been with us since the invention of the wheel. No, my friends, it didn’t begin with Hurricane Katrina.

Regardless of what you want to call these “new” trends, they’re all an exercise in imagination. Or futility. Or both.

The thought that “travel mooching” or “staycationing” or “momcations” are only recent trends is patently ridiculous.

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