Gimme a break
I'm gonna say something I don't say very often: I really, really need a vacation. What's more, I need the kind of vacation where I sit around on my ass on a beach somewhere super warm and do nothing but read books, swim and take walks for a week while someone brings me fruity alcoholic beverages.
I'm just going to preface this by saying yes, I know I am very lucky. Most of you know me as someone who travels a lot, which I am. Traveling, seeing the world, getting out of my comfort zone and having new experiences are all very important to me and to my way of life. But it's not something that is easily done. You have to have an income that A) allows you a bit of financial leeway, and then B) commit to prioritizing travel over other luxuries and saving accordingly. Most people, if they really want to travel, can handle B, but A is a bit more elusive and dependent on factors that are often out of our control. Simply put, some people have it easier than others for absolutely no good reason, and I am lucky to be one of those people. I got the short end on the stick in a few other ways, but for the most part I have been fortunate and I am grateful.
My travel goals are pretty ambitious. The most public is that I want to see all fifty states by the time I turn 40, and I'm very close - only five more to go. I would also like to hit two more continents by the time I'm 40, because so far I've only been on North America and Europe. Both are amazing, but I feel like I really should be branching out to Asia and Australia while I'm living on the west coast, since I'm here. And also, before I'm 40, I want to have some kind of an immersive experience. I still daydream that I'm going to re-learn my shoddy high school French and become partially to fully fluent, but we all know the best way to do that is by living there. So CLEARLY it's in the cards for me. That or I can go to London and perfect my faux-British accent. Whatever.
The point is, there are a lot of things to see and do, and I'm not getting any younger. I've never understood the "after the kids" mentality when it comes to seeing the world, because let's face it, the older we get, the more of a pain in the ass it is to travel thanks to all our high-maintenance self-care rituals and steadily mounting list of aches and pains that were absolutely NOT ailing us a decade ago. And there's no guarantee I'll even be around that long to enjoy my postponed adventures, so I'm not waiting.
From the time I graduated from college, I've traveled as much and as far as possible, prioritizing travel funds over other luxuries, and still I have barely scratched the surface. When I travel somewhere new, I tend to go very hard, seeing and experiencing as much as I can with very few waking hours spent in hotels. This is not always relaxing, I'll admit, but I feel a sort of "when in Rome" emotion when I'm traveling, or as my dad likes to say, "Who knows when we may pass this way again?" I come home from my journeys feeling happy and full, but not necessarily relaxed. I make the most of my time - but then again, what does that mean? Is it best to work very, very hard and then, in our rare time off, to play very, very hard as well?
There's probably no right or wrong answer, but I know right now I'm at my limit. When you work for a non-profit organization of any kind, the general rule of thumb is that there's never enough money, which means never enough staff. Which means we work very hard for not much income, which is sadly the biggest difference between someone who works for a university and someone who works for Microsoft. Money. And most people who work in nonprofits aren't looking for income as a primary source of happiness. That said, it feels bad to work really, really hard with very few resources and very low pay if you also aren't giving yourself a rest.
I need a restful vacation.
I need the kind of vacation where the biggest thing I have to worry about when I wake up in the morning is what to order from room service. Which means I need room service, and I need a swimming pool and someone to hand me drinks. I need a beach - I love you Seattle, but I need a beach with water above 62 degrees so I can swim in the ocean for the first time in four years. Or is it five years? Oh, man, it might be five years.
I need to spend an entire day reading a book. I need to shut off all my devices and not look at screens for as many days as I can stand. I need some silence, and a back massage. And I don't care how first-world it sounds, because if you could see inside my brain, you'd know that it's anything but.
One of my coworkers recently pointed out to me that I haven't taken a vacation that was more than a long weekend since May 2013. It only took me a few seconds to realize that she was correct. In the meantime, I have taken many quick and inexpensive weekend trips, but no more than 2 days off work at a time, except at Christmas when the office is closed and I visit family on the other coast. But as nice as that time is, it's short. I need a big, long, slow-paced vacation to recharge and rejuvenate. I'm not sure when it's going to happen, because as always there's just so much going on here. It's hard to find the time, but I'm going to do it soon. There are a few things bouncing around in my head in terms of what and where, but the wheels are turning.
Until then, I do have a few weekend jaunts lined up, which hopefully will keep me going until I can take an extended break. It'll also give me some time to get a really good reading list together. I just got back from a very quick trip to California, and next month I'll head to Dallas. But I have my eye on that week-long vacation I'm feeling more and more in need of.
If you could take a long vacation right now, anywhere in the world, what would you do?