What I learned on my summer vacation

Posted by Stacy Baas on August 16, 2012 0 Comments

With all the pictures on Facebook of smiling, backpack-laden kids headed back to school, it seems appropriate to do a little reflection on the summer (and the summer travel) behind us. With that, here are a few things I learned on my summer vacation(s):

 

Just say no: I am a pleaser - always have been. Particularly now as I my career is comprised of freelance work, it’s more difficult than ever to take time off, and then increasingly hard to actually stick to it, leaving email unchecked and messages unreturned. But this year, I did it – at least a little bit.

On our first getaway of the summer, I brought my laptop, but intentionally didn’t bring my power cord, so I had to ration my time on the computer to just a few minutes a day. Guess what? Nothing disintegrated while I was gone. On our second getaway, I just brought my iPad and I felt even more free to enjoy myself. On our third and final trip, I brought it all, and found myself sadly unable to pull away from checking Facebook newsfeeds, writing short emails and scheduling meetings for after my return. Did any of that need to happen on vacation? No. Will it next year?

Say it with me now…NO.

 

Listen to your gut: One thing I learned over the years of business and leisure travel in faraway places is that when your gut tells you something isn’t quite right, listen to it.

Should I let this sweet Indian child give me a tour around the streets of Mumbai? Probably not.

Should I eat that salsa that’s been sitting out in this sweltering Zihuatanejo restaurant all day? Definitely not.

Should I take that sketchy- looking taxi that just pulled up outside my hotel in Mexico City? Absolutely, positively, do-we-have-to-even-discuss-this? not.

This summer, I didn’t go anyplace foreign or even particularly exotic. But I took my child with me, which makes every destination a bit of a minefield, particularly when your kid is a fearless, impulsive toddler with no understanding of danger. At one point, I didn’t listen to my gut that told me a seemingly harmless activity on its face could be a bad idea. I just had a feeling, but I went along with it anyway. It turned out my gut was right - it was a bad idea. Luckily nobody was hurt and we can all “laugh about it now,” but still. I knew better.

The lesson? Though it’s tempting to let your guard down, vacation is the time when you should have that internal risk-radar turned up a bit.  No need to be paranoid or a killjoy. Just don’t be stupid.

 

Familiarity is underrated. For years, I couldn’t understand why some people would vacation in the same place every year. There are so many amazing destinations in the world, why would you go to the same lake every year to ski behind the same boat and eat the same food?

But I get it now.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love to visit someplace new. But it’s amazingly relaxing to arrive at your destination and know exactly what sandwich tastes best at the local restaurant, what pool chair gets the best shade, and what beach has the sparkliest sand. This summer we did an exact repeat of last year’s super-fun summer getaway to Lake Tahoe. We rented the same condo, packed the same stuff and I’m not embarrassed to say did exactly the same things.

Sometimes vacation is about the adventure of trial and error, but sometimes it’s about the beauty of not having to think about anything at all.

 

What did you learn on your summer vacation?

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