Everyone has a different perception of the perfect vacation.
There is the “stay-cation,” where you stay at home and either do household errands or visit places nearby. (I wish I had taken a single stay-cation in my life, but I cram all my household errands in on the weekends or after work and rarely visit local venues—except when out- of-town visitors want to go to Disneyland.)
Then there’s the “Go to a place and exhaust yourself by sightseeing from dawn to dusk” vacation. This is awesome when you are traveling to a faraway foreign country or an amazing city like Paris. After paying a hefty price for a plane ticket and lodging, it almost seems irresponsible to not see everything you can. Since these can be once-in-a-lifetime trips, I completely understand the compulsion to fill up every day with excursions.
Just this morning I got a text from a friend who’s traveling in Europe for five weeks—with an itinerary including a dozen cities and five countries. When I asked her how it was going, her final line was telling: “Next time, I would pick 2 areas and stay put.”
That’s what I’ve discovered about destination trips. Instead of doing the seven-cities-in-eight-days kind of trip, I’ve found it far more satisfying to go to a single city or region and go deep into its culture, food and people. That’s what I did last October on my trip to Tuscany/the Chianti region of Italy about 40 minutes outside Florence. I was able to learn about the food, walk the countryside, explore multiple museums, churches and villages and really understand the synergy between olive oil and wine and why Chianti Classico is now one of my all-time favorite wines.
So, next time you are planning a trip—either foreign or domestic—consider spending more time in fewer places. It’s not a competition of how many places you can visit on a single trip.
Finally, there is the “completely relaxing” vacation. And that’s what I am on right now. I am at the end of a full week on the island of Maui. I have been coming to Maui for more than 30 years. Sometimes with friends, sometimes with family. This time I am here with my two adult daughters, Alex (29) and Sophia (25).
We chuckle about our ideal vacation in Hawaii, as many people expect us to fill up our days with parasailing, snorkeling, hiking, bike rides up the Haleakala volcano, plus lots of Mai Tai’s and hours in the sun. Over the years, we have done most of those things. But after a few bad sunburns and our annual visit to the dermatologist, we don’t spend much time in the sun. My daughters have different tastes in what they like to spend their time on, so each day they drive the agenda. Usually, I take an early morning three-mile walk and come home to one or both of them making a healthy breakfast. It is literally the only time all year that all three of us sit down to eat a meal together, alone.
Mornings are spent reading, playing games and relaxing. In the afternoons, we might spend time cooling off in the pool, more reading, maybe some shopping and then we end at a local favorite restaurant. Rinse and repeat for six more days.
Why is this the perfect vacation? Because, as a parent, I get to spend quality time with my daughters. And they get to spend quality time with each other. We don’t bring spouses or boyfriends. We get to have random discussions. We laugh at various memories we have had over the years. Without fail, one of us says something super funny, which becomes the repeated theme of the trip. We get to unwind from the rat race of life back home, and because we are 2,500 miles away, we cannot easily slip back into our normal pace. If we’re tempted to go “full speed ahead,” we are reminded daily of the Hawaiian pace of life, presented to us by people like the server at our favorite coffee shop, Bad Ass Coffee, where the same woman has been serving us for 19 years.
Alex, Me and Sophia on our last day in Maui
I have been meditating daily first thing in the morning, for more than two years. Yet, every single day on this trip I have forgotten to meditate. My daughter Sophia told me, “Mommy, maybe it’s because you are so relaxed here, it’s like you don’t need to formally meditate.” Interesting.
So, as you are looking at your calendar for 2020, consider allocating some of your vacation time for recharging and clearing your mind. Maybe do some writing, read some books, or take naps.
I promise you, it will make dealing with the pace of your regular life much easier. Who knows, you may get clarity on things you need to change about your life, when you get back home.