When you vacation hard, sometimes you have to take a temporary time-out. It happens when you burn yourself out, or get so bored that you need to get away, or just need a change of pace; I call these moments on vacation time-outs.
When Roberto and I travel, we fill our days with tons of activities – long hikes, meandering around cities and towns, local tours, basically endless exploring. We love being active, (Roberto not so much but he is a good sport), and we try to cram as much into our travels as possible. Most people use this practice of cramming, because there is limited time and you want to make sure that you see and experience everything. Who knows if you will ever be back?
A tragic side effect of this technique is the notorious travel burn out. Our trip to Skye in 2014, we were scheduled to the max. We had major activities planned for almost every day we were there. We also wanted to spend our evenings in town trying the restaurants and walking around the harbor. One night, we got home to our B&B and Roberto was not feeling well. Instead of letting it ruin everything, I left him resting in bed and went out hunting for food. I found some Chinese takeout, ordered based off what I used to get when I studied in London, and brought food back to the room. We spent the night eating in bed and watching the Scottish Independence Referendum vote on TV to see if Scotland would become an independent country. It was actually quite amazing.
A break in the vacation may also be needed if you are not enjoying yourself. In 2016, Roberto and I took a trip to Indianapolis. We were there, invited by family and friends to experience the Indianapolis 500, the largest motor racing event of the year. We arrived on Wednesday night and the race was on Sunday. We spent Thursday exploring the city, Friday at the race track, but by Saturday I was bored out of my mind. So I left Roberto with the boys at the track and took myself two hours south to Marengo Cave. That place was beautiful.
One of my favorite time-outs is a good spa day in the middle of some serious activity. On Saba, after several days of intense hiking, walking the steep hills and snorkeling, we scheduled a day at the spa before we left. We worked a spa day into a trip we had to take to Kiev. You may be surprised to know that the day after our wedding we went on an eight mile hike up into the Black Mountains on Skye where is was raining and freezing just above the cloud line, so we made sure to work a day at the spa into our trip.
There was even a time, during a particularly long trip that we had to take a time-out to just do laundry, shop for hiking gear, mail some things home, and get our things reorganized. Not the best time-out, but very necessary. This little side bar of a day gave us an entirely new experience of doing laundry in a foreign country, and for Roberto, being in a laundromat for the first time in his life. At the time I was upset about the loss of that day, but looking back I cherish those memories just as much as the times we spent hiking.
As a child, my family took a vacation every year for one week out on Cape Cod. The trip was full of days on the beach and nights out on the town. We did something every night. There was always one day though in which we would make a pot of spaghetti, some salad, and eat together in the home we rented.
These breaks can be very important to the rest of your vacation. They provide your mind and body a refueling moment before getting on with the rest of your trip. They can even enhance the next experience you are about to have. Taking a time-out to do laundry may seem like a waste of time, but having those socks finally clean for the big hike is worth it. To be able to enjoy a day sitting in the stands and watching a really long car race, I was grateful for the day that I took down in the caves. Even in Disney World, when you come home with seriously sore feet and have run yourself around the Magic Kingdom a thousand times, a day at the pool feels amazing and gets you ready to have an even better day in the parks tomorrow.
Many experienced travelers will tell you that you may need to work these time-outs into your trip, or just be willing to let them happen. Sometimes we do not know the conditions we’ll find ourselves in during our carefully planned trips. But be willing to allow for a day at the laundromat if you have been getting rained on for three days, or a day in the water if you have been hiking in serious heat all week, it is all a natural part of traveling. Please take this advice because it may just make your trip more enjoyable and memorable. You may end up with new and different experiences that you were not expecting, it may lead you to somewhere new, and it may be exactly what your vacation needed.