It seemed like Mom and Dad always wanted to vacation in the mountains when I was little. Those tall, tree-covered mounds were evil. They made me feel sick to my stomach. Over the mountain, down the mountain, around the mountain – I lived on Dramamine and never strayed too far from a plastic bag.
When I grew up a bit, we visited other places – usually once a year. My dad lived for vacation. We went to Disney World when I was six. We went to the Amish country in Pennsylvania when I was sixteen. There were other vacations sprinkled in between which I cannot recall. With most of our family living within a thirty mile radius, we did not have to use vacation to see family. So, each year in the summer, we would pack up the car and head somewhere. My job was sleeping in the backseat… and I did my job well. ~smile~
Fast-forward to married life. Vacations are different than they used to be. While I was used to going somewhere once a year, Eric and I came into our relationship with a different situation. My family lives a five-hour car ride away and his family lives on the other side of the country. We enjoyed a terrific honeymoon at Lake Tahoe; but, since then, we have not vacationed anywhere for a full week. We have visited family. We have attended friends’ weddings. We have joined each other for conferences, but we have not made vacationing a priority.
Before you weep for me, I am actually okay with it – at least I have been up to this point. And, even though Eric and I have not driven or flown to many exotic locations, I do pack the car up several times a year and visit my parents who live near the beach. I cannot complain. ~smile~
However, even though Eric and I have not been avid vacationers, I think it is important to prioritize fun time and I am hoping he and I will get better about this in the next decade. Hopefully, you will learn from our story and start planning yearly or bi-yearly trips together once you are married. You need the time away from the grind. You need the time to reconnect. You need the time to have fun. And you need to not have to share each other with the world.
The Big Kahuna – The VACATION
To some, the vacation is standard operating procedure. The expectation is that once or twice a year – at least –a spot is found, activities are planned, and travel commences to that spot. The expense is not pleasant, but not a deal breaker. Just as we need food, we need a vacation. In some families, for the emotional health of the family, a vacation is considered a legitimate need.
Assuming a couple can afford it (no vacation is a need if it requires going into debt), I think they should enjoy an extra exciting, full-length vacation at least every ten years. Even saving $20 a month could finance a nice, weeklong stay somewhere. Saving $50 a month, faithfully, would set a couple on track for an extra-luxurious trip!
For memory sake, and so you can see the world, plan to take at least one major vacation every decade.
The Power Packed, but Shorter Option – The LONG WEEKEND
A couple of years ago, Eric and I did go on a long foodie weekend. We got a hotel room, turned the AC up as high as it would go (so we could use the fireplace in May), and spent time enjoying different ethnic foods. It was a relaxing weekend.
Most married couples can afford to do this at least once a year. If not once a year, maybe once every two years. Just pack the car and get away from home. The location does not have to be amazing – just different! We were only gone three days, but I still think about that weekend fondly and would love to go back!
The Quick and the Memorable – The DAY TRIP
Last August, we drove an hour north to Charlottesville to enjoy a food tour for my birthday. It was a quick trip packed with fun and food, followed by a visit to Whole Foods and Trader Joes. We were gone a few hours and then headed home for a movie and pizza. It did not take a ton of time and money to have a tremendous day together!
Before children, I think it is realistic to go on monthly or, at least, quarterly day trips in a year. What do you think? A day trip could include driving to the next town and enjoying a different restaurant and a stroll around the mall. The point is to be together and shake up your “normal.”
The Less Common, but Growing in Popularity – The STAYCATION
Staycations are poised for greatness! They may not be standard procedure yet, but more people are discovering their merits! If money reserves are low and/or travelling poses a challenge, a staycation can be a great alternative to no vacation at all. If you plan well, your staycation can be every bit as fun as a vacation – and you can still sleep in your own bed at night!
Have you ever had a week off of school or work and you expected it to be great? Only… it was not. Before you knew it, it was Friday and you had done nothing exciting all week? That is such a yucky feeling. “I want my free week back!”
Staycations help make the most of those times. Even if money is extremely tight at certain points in your marriage, you and your sweetie can plan some low-budget or even no-budget activities to do together. Again, the point is being together and reconnecting.
A possible staycation might look something like this:
Monday – Pancakes! Visit a local museum. Have dinner out at favorite restaurant. Watch a movie on a blanket outside.
Tuesday – Park day! Pack a picnic basket and some sporting equipment and spend the day playing soccer, tennis, walking the trails, or lying under a tree and reading.
Wednesday – Drive to a nearby town and visit a historical landmark. Do the touristy attractions. Maybe walk through a petting zoo.
Thursday – Its Foodie day! Breakfast, lunch, and dinner at new, ethnic restaurants.
Friday – Something we have never done before like horseback riding, a hot air balloon ride, jet skiing, or enjoying a riverboat dinner cruise.
Saturday – Stay home and have a movie marathon! Or game day!
Sunday – Draw special and exciting options out of a hat for a final grand finale!
Whether you and your sweetie agree to travel somewhere specific for at least a week every year or you decide to make the most out of your common surroundings, create an expectation of together-time. Unless you carve out time to recharge, something else will always compete for your attention. You will need to shut out the world and reconnect with your sweetheart. Once you have kids, it will be important to make memories with them, and to show them that you want to spend time with them. Though my dad and I did not (and do not) share a love of mountains, at least I know he wanted to spend time with me – motion sick, whiny, complaining me. ~smile~
If you and your sweetheart have not discussed your vacation expectations, now is as good of a time as any!
How will you make vacations or staycations a way of life in your future marriage?