I’m back! Did you miss me? My family and I were off last week for some fun in the sun in Leavenworth, Washington.
Before we left my son asked me if this was Travel or Vacation. You see, in our family, we have a different meaning for each word. When we Travel, we are going somewhere to enrich ourselves. We pack our days full of sightseeing and activities. Travel typically involves advance planning, tickets, timetables and lines. Vacation, however, involves sleeping in, lots of reading and loose timetables. We are flexible on what we do, or don’t do, and when. It’s more about relaxation than enrichment.
Last week was definitely Vacation, and I thought I would share a Do’s and Don’ts for a successful vacation based on our week away.
DO go someplace hot, dry and bug-free. 95+ degrees Fahrenheit is good. That way, you have no guilt about laying around reading all afternoon because it’s too hot to do anything else. Naps in air conditioning are prescribed. Visit the pool or the river or both whenever you start to overheat. Stay in your wet swimsuit and air dry all evening as things cool off. (I’m usually cold, so it was awesome to feel hot enough to want to get into the water.)
DON’T go someplace hot, dry and with extreme fire danger if you are intending to hike. There is a good chance all of the trails will be closed so that the officials don’t have to worry about rescuing stranded hikers if they wander into an existing fire area or if a new fire starts. Leave your hiking boots at home. Flip-flops are the only shoes allowed on vacation. (So much for my daily hikes!)
DO have your son, an only child, bring a friend. It is totally worth the extra money you will spend for said friend to join your family. It’s like giving your child the gift of a sibling, only one they’ve chosen, who listens to you, is polite, and willingly helps with chores. All that, and you don’t have to pay for an additional college education! It’s a bargain. With the friend along, you will get more relaxation time in, and keep the surly teenage behavior at bay. (It was lovely!)
DON’T wake anyone up early, especially teenagers. Let them sleep. Everyone will be happier. Let them stay up as late as they want, so they sleep in even later. Spend the cool hours of the morning doing your own thing… Walking the dog, reading, or sleep in yourself. (I would sleep in if I could, but I’m an early riser and enjoy my quiet morning time, even on vacation.)
DO enjoy the touristy, Bavarian-themed town you are staying near. Sample the local merchandise, wander the stores, and maybe actually even buy something for yourself (like a cute skirt). Sit in a beer garden and have a bratwurst and an imported German beer. Daily. (I finally found someone who knew what a Radler was and could make one for me – first time since the real Bavaria!)
DON’T expect fancy museums or educational activities. Visit the local Pioneer Museum with its random collection of artifacts and pioneer buildings, go miniature golfing, float in a tube down the river, visit the local candy-making factory or all of the above. Only one activity per day is allowed. More than that, and it will become Travel. (Ever heard of Aplets and Cotlets? Yes, we saw how they make them. Free samples! Yum!)
DO read lots of books. Four or five, at least. Stock up on books before you leave and enjoy the time guilt-free. Fiction only please, no non-fiction is allowed on vacation. (The best book I read last week was Visible City by Tova Mirvis.)
And here is the kicker, the biggest DON’T of them all…
DON’T, absolutely ever, set your iPhone on a stack of books on the edge of a sink. Especially not a sink with a shallow pool of soapy water in it. Especially not if you plan to leave for 15 to 20 minutes to take the dog for a walk. Because if you do, there is a good chance that when you return, you will find your iPhone in the sink, swimming in the shallow pool of soapy water, flickering ominously. Not only will you lose your phone for the rest of the trip, but you will lose your camera too. (Even after turning it off right away and keeping it in a bag of rice for 3 days, it never recovered. Luckily, we were able to stop at the Apple store in Portland on the drive home and I got my camera, er, phone, replaced. Whew!)
So there you have it, a few Do’s and Don’ts for a successful summer vacation. Do you have any to add to the list? Let’s hear them!