I’m not convinced vacations are a great idea. With few exceptions, I’ve found them to be expensive, sleepless, and include a minimum of a thousand additional calories per day. All from food I wouldn’t dream of eating in my day to day life (breakfast nachos, anyone?).
I like the idea of escaping to a beautiful place without much to do. The reality has been hit or miss.
It’s probably telling that when offered a getaway my immediate posture is skepticism. I credit my dad with years of family vacations that sounded great, but involved unforeseen hurdles to sleep, temperature, and basic comfort.
My dad once car-camped (at the time it was just called sleeping in a station wagon) with my brothers across the southwest. When they arrived at my grandmother’s house everyone was so filthy she handed them the hose and a bar of soap. No one was allowed inside before a thorough scrubbing in the front yard.
One vacation of note was the time he invited us three kids to Florida. I had visions of beaches and snorkeling and opted right in. It turned out the plan was to tent camp, which none of us had any experience doing. We headed to Walmart just before dusk to buy the necessaries. That shopping trip involved imagining what people who camp might need and haphazardly grabbing it.
Our campsite was sandwiched between two, large, RVs whose owners enjoyed lengthy leaf-blowing sessions. It was situated as far from the water as one could be on a peninsula. The rest of the night involved putting up tents in the dark, and wishing we had done it even just once before.
The coup de grâce was the truck that arrived at five-ish am and took a full thirty minutes to collect the trash. In the daylight we could see the bins were about ten feet from our heads. I put my foot down about staying another night, but I have to believe my dad wasn’t nuts about how things had turned out. We ended up in a hotel for the remainder of the trip, which got significantly more fun after that.
The truth is, left to my own devices I haven’t always done much better.
Three years ago I headed off to a surf camp with a couple of friends. We looked for places online, read some reviews, and picked one that looked fine. It should have been a head’s up when the application asked for our ages and level of schooling, but we glossed over all that and sent in our money.
As soon as we walked up to the check-in, I knew we had made a grave error in judgement. The camp consisted of the three of us, and about twenty elementary and middle-school children. We had signed ourselves up for summer camp. I was laughing so hard I could barely get through the first day’s instruction. I did appreciate the gallons of sunscreen and orange slices though, who says you can’t go back?
Scroll down for the photo. Seriously, do it now.
This was the same vacation where I tip-toed out of my airbnb to escape a particularly insane and obtrusive host. He was a nearly seventy year old man who would shout my name across the house, and present himself shirtless. I bought my camper soon after.
In it, I’m exploring new places instead of escaping one. My camper allows me to feel like a traveler rather than someone on vacation. I make my own meals, stop anywhere that might be interesting, take lots of photographs. The focus is generally being in nature, staying active, and lots of naps.
Vacations have their charms, though. There’s nothing like one to send you back to the gym with renewed vigor, or make you fully appreciate crawling into your own bed.
PS. My dad did a lot to take his kids places and show them the world. We love him, and appreciate it always 😘