It’s been less than a month since my first real international vacation since 2020. And I’m finally starting to feel like I’ve recovered from it. We spent our entire trip driving around and seeing different cities and stunning natural wonders. And it was exhausting. So much so that when we arrived for a two-night stay in Glencoe and it was raining, we stayed in and read the entire time, and it was one of the best parts of the trip. What I’ve gleaned from that is that while travel can be very fun and edifying, I have no interest in travel right now. I just want a vacation.
Last year, I wrote about the difference between traveling and taking a vacation. In some ways, I don’t feel like I’ve ever done the latter. I tend to feel cheated when I visit a place and spend a disproportionate amount of time in a hotel room doing nothing. It’s always hard to imagine the alternative – all the beautiful foreign places I could have seen and all the interesting experiences I might have had if I wasn’t cooped up somewhere. That’s probably part of the reason why I’ve never liked cruises. I’ve always felt that time spent doing nothing somewhere is time wasted.
There’s a definite obnoxious Millennial quality about me that values experiences about all else – even well-deserved rest. And I think it’s high time that we, as a generation, admit to ourselves that that’s a little bit toxic. First of all, we have to do away with the notion that we can see every corner of the world and do every amazing bucket list activity we have on an imaginary list somewhere. Let’s do away with lists! Lists are for groceries and for work. There’s nothing relaxing or enjoyable about keeping lists of placess to visit – it turns travel into a chore. And while we’re at it, let’s do away with the thinking that vacation time is wasted if it’s not filled with non-stop incredible sights and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. If lounging around is what you’re in the mood to do, it will never be time wasted. Doing nothing is valuable, too. Even if it’s not so photogenic.
Maybe it’s that I’ve aged, or more accurately, that this pandemic has aged me, but I find myself less and less interested in travel. That doesn’t mean I don’t want to go anywhere. But I definitely don’t want to undertake the tremendous effort of traveling for the sake of exploration and discovery. No, I am ready to enter my vacation phase. Getting lost in souks and seeing half a dozen different Buddhist temples in one day was fun. But I’m in my mid-30s and I’m not trying to sacrifice comfort and convenience to see and do everything there is to do. I don’t want to lose sleep to get through a batshit itinerary that covers five cities in a week. I don’t want to worry about catching buses or booking a million tours and sights ahead of time. I want to arrive and do exactly whatever I feel like it for the duration of my trip. I want to stay in the kinds of hotels that I’m excited to spend most of my trip enjoying. I want to trade in walking 19,000 steps a day for half an hour at the pool and an afternoon nap.
Perhaps the days of traveling just to travel are behind me. In fact, my wife had an extra week off to take a few weeks after our last trip, and after serious deliberation, we decided we preferred to stay home doing nothing than take a trip somewhere and be tired. Hell might as well have frozen over for me to turn down an opportunity to travel. But I think I will get more out of taking vacations that are actually relaxing instead of exhausting and packed full of activites. Maybe it’s time for me to explore the all-inclusive resorts of the world, take the lazy river cruises, and read next to a fireplace on a rainy day.