Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Vacation Styles

When I was younger, my mom and sister would plan out every second of our vacations. We had at least a half page schedule for each day. My mom can’t go somewhere and NOT see as much as possible. Both she and my sister spent months pouring over guidebooks, picking the sights they want to see, the restaurants they want to try, and the bed and breakfasts where they want to stay. I get it, I really do. Why go to New York City and not go to a couple Broadway shows, a Yankee game, the Statue of Liberty, a helicopter tour, and on and on and on? Plus, they made detailed maps so we (usually) didn’t waste time getting lost or trying to find a restaurant or a place to stay, which was helpful. It sometimes made vacations more like work than being home, though. Yeah, I was seeing great things and I don’t wish I hadn’t seen them, but by the time we were halfway through our vacations I was ready to cry from exhaustion and sensory overload. We’d get up at 7am each day to see as much as possible. I need downtime and lots of sleep and that was not in the schedule.

When I was almost 21, my grandparents took the whole family on a cruise. It was amazing. A vacation where all there is to do is eat, sleep, read, and go to a few shows? HEAVEN. I don’t even like getting off the boat for excursions. I loved it so much, I convinced Thomas we should take a cruise for our honeymoon. He loved it, too, and we went on another cruise this past February. Now that I’m one of the grownups, I finally get to have relaxing vacations! And you know what? Since it’s been almost 4 years since my last sightseeing-packed vacation, I’m kind of missing it. Maybe we need to alternate vacation styles? I don’t know how you would blend them. To me, it kind of feels like you have to pick a style – go-go-go or relaaaaaax – and do that the whole time. Because if we’re going somewhere awesome, like Europe, we should see as much as possible. I feel more comfortable relaxing when that’s what you’re supposed to be doing, so I’m not missing anything. But, pouring over guidebooks is not my thing and I don’t like the planning part of vacations. Maybe I’ll have to travel with my sister and/or mom if I want to see stuff…

What vacation style do you prefer? Does your spouse have the same preference or do you have to compromise? Do you ever mix it up?


  1. I like to plan but not over-plan. I want an idea of what we're going to do every day before hand, because I hate realizing at the end of a trip that I have one day left and 10 places I want to go. But even more than that I HATE being over-scheduled.

    We had a family reunion in Hawaii soon after Kalena was born and my aunt scheduled like every minute of every day. I felt like as soon as we got somewhere we had to turn around and leave. We didn't get a chance to enjoy anything because we always had somewhere else to go. (Also, having a 9 week old? Did not make things more fun.)

    All this to say I guess we like planned but relaxed? Brian and I totally have the same style, by the way.

  2. My opinion is that if we've taken all the trouble to fly someplace and are paying to be there, then we should see/do the things that are available to do THERE. If we are just going to lie around in bed, WHY DID WE COME HERE? We can lie around in bed at home.

    So, yeah, I like to do things. Not a crazy amount or anything, but I don't like to waste time sitting around a hotel room. (Now, playing on the beach is an activity, so I am not against relaxing, just against wasting time doing things we can do exactly the same at home.)

  3. Hmmm. I think I prefer both, but it depends on the locale/reason for vacation.

    When T and I have gone on toasty warm vacations like our honeymoon or to other resorts, the goal is lounge and eat and drink.

    When we went to Europe a few years ago, we saw as much as we could within reason since the trip was To See Stuff.

    I'm just always happy that he and I travel similarly and like to go places together.

  4. I agree with Elsha. I want to have a rough outline, but I like to have a little relaxation too. Except this February we are taking a 100% relaxation trip, which I am excited about.

  5. I'm very much a relaxation vacationer. My husband is sort of a hybrid -- he likes to relax for a day or two, but he also wants to See! All! The things! and so he drags me to all these touristy things that make me feel so conspicuous. (We honeymooned in Ireland and I felt like SUCH an American at all the stuff he dragged me to. A lot of it was cool stuff, but was obviously stuff that if you lived there, the only time you'd ever go to it was on a field trip in third grade.)

    My in-laws are very much planner/go-go-go people. My MIL especially is really awful about just sitting down and reading a book for an hour. If there is shopping to be done and touristy things to be taking pictures of, there is no time for relaxing. I find vacations with them incredibly stressful.

  6. Jeff and I make a strong distinction between traveling and vacations, because to us, they are NOT the same thing. Traveling is for sightseeing and planned things, and vacations are for relaxing. We've done a few places we've been lucky enough to visit more than once both ways, and it's wonderful, but we decide in advance whether or not we're going to drag ourselves all over town or just sleep late, enjoy the hotel, and explore when we feel like it.

  7. Good ideas! I grew up with the details-all-planned family, which is a lot of work, and my husband grew up in a more relaxed family that would go places but not plan anything. I don't know that they ever did much sight-seeing, but I'm sure they got to sleep! Now, I wish we had more time to have any kind of vacation. The ones we have are doing things nearby while we all sleep in our own beds and naptimes are still regular. That's important for us with small kids. You do make me want to try a cruise someday!

  8. I like to see a lot, but not necessarily plan a lot. I spend a lot of time before a trip finding out what all is available to do, maybe making one or two set in stone plans if something requires advance purchase. Then when I get there making more definite plans, and just wandering around. Since there are always gems that you don't read about in guidebooks. So it gives me flexibility in "go-go-go" and "I think I'll go to bed early and wake up late".