How Not to Vacation

Last year I wrote about taking a solid two-week vacation and described taking the family to our remote Canadian island with no electricity and no running water.

That was a really good vacation.

how not to vacation

This year, I blew it.

For various reasons I felt I could not just check out. So I took my 14-year-old’s advice—I’m not sure you should ever take your 14-year-old’s advice. Anyway, we all hauled off to a property in Wisconsin on a lake. On this trip, the kids were NOT weaned of their electronics. Neither was I.

As a result, I spent my first week away working essentially full-time from a scenic locale, and the second week I was mostly feeling guilty about not working. Re-entry was easy compared with last year and literally took only half a day.

The lesson?

Take at least two continuous weeks of vacation with NONE of your normal responsibilities … if you really want a vacation.

The rule stands. Take at least two continuous weeks of vacation with NONE of your normal responsibilities … if you really want a vacation. The first week will facilitate your disengagement from your existing daily routine. This is when you might feel disoriented and even uncomfortable. The SECOND week will BE your vacation. You will—during that precious stretch—be able to luxuriate in the pleasures of NOT doing those things that habitually overfill your regular day-to-day routine.

My 3 new rules:

  1. Choose a place effectively unreachable by your normal life.
  2. Find a way to make this last a MINIMUM of two weeks.
  3. Plan nothing in advance except getting there and back. Let in-vacation planning reduce itself down to ONLY the big questions: What will we make for lunch today? What book will I read after this one?

So, what did I get as a reward for not having these rules this year? My youngest learned to water ski, so he was alright with it, but my middle child summarized the trip like this: “Wisconsin is boring. I never want to go there again.” My oldest—whose idea it was—said, “Meh.”

Translation: Our vacation was too much like our regular life—Brooklyn with boats—and so it was not a REAL vacation.

Next year I will do better.

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