Tag Archives: travel

My Favorite Place to Travel?

18 Nov

I was browsing the racks at a little boutique in Meredith, NH, when a store clerk struck up a conversation. She asked if I was on vacation.

“Yes.”

“Do you travel often,” she continued.

“When I can,” I replied, offhandedly.

Then she asked a question that completely disarmed me: “What’s your favorite place to travel?”

To her, this seemed like idle chit-chat. But it struck me as deeply personal. If she had asked me my weight or if I believed in God, it wouldn’t have felt more intrusive.

I lied, said something about Arizona’s desert landscape (lovely, yes, but my favorite?), and made my way out of the store and into a neighboring bar.

While I sipped a beer, I wondered: Why had this simple question rattled me? And what is my favorite place?

Panicked, I searched my brain for an answer. Looking over London from the rooftop of St. Paul’s? Exploring the labyrinth of the Metropolitan Museum in New York? Winding up the California coast along US 101? Riding the ferry out to Block Island to spend day at the beach? None of it seemed quite right.

And the idea of choosing felt strange, felt wrong. Like picking your favorite child. Who could do such a thing?

Not me, I decided.

Maybe I haven’t found my favorite place yet. Then again, maybe I have. Either way, next time I’m asked, I’ll be better prepared.

I might say, “I’m not sure,” or perhaps, “My next trip is my favorite, I going to ________ this summer.”

Or maybe I’ll turn it around, and ask, “What’s yours?”

Because really, it’s not such a bad question.

The Realities of Girlfriend Getaways

22 Sep

As with many great ideas, it started in a bar.

During an impromptu gathering of college friends, the conversation turned to a familiar topic: We should see more of each other.

It had been ten years since we’d graduated from Syracuse University together. Remarkably, we’d stayed in touch and liked each other even more than in the days of dorm food and keggers.

We also were enjoying the self assuredness that comes with being 30 years old, and the bonus of having a little financial security to boot.

There was only one logical thing to do–plan a weekend getaway. Little did we know that our first trip would turn into an annual tradition.

It’s been six years now, and over that time I’ve discovered these realities of girlfriend getaways:

1. Planning is half the fun. 

Our trip always falls on MLK Day weekend, but discussions about locales, flights, hotels, what to pack, and what to see last all year long. E-mails with links to indulgent spas, highly recommended restaurants, and top-rated attractions bounce back and forth. So what if there are days we barely make it past the hotel bar.

2. There will be tears.

At any given moment, it is not uncommon for one or more of the five of us to break down. Whether it is over entrees in Arizona or walking down Sixth Street in Austin, there’s something about being around girlfriends who validate your feelings and love you unconditionally that spurs an emotional release. Bring tissues.

3. You’ll miss home.

Most of the time during our girls’ weekends I’m giddy with the joys of leaving it all behind. Pets, kids, laundry–not today! But then I’ll get a little twinge, wonder what’s going on back home, and need to check in. It’s OK, just try to avoid calling at 4 a.m. from a dance club. Husbands don’t love that.

4. Be flexible.

Plans will be made, and plans will be broken. It will rain. Planes will be delayed. That don’t-miss thing you must see, forget about it. Crankiness is inevitable (and usually caused by hunger, by the way). In the end, it helps to remember that girls’ weekends are about being together, no matter if it is waiting in line for an epic brunch at the Bellagio or dealing with the inevitable delays caused by five girls and one bathroom.

5. It will end too soon.

Before I know it, bloated from too much food and drink, wallet empty and laughing to myself over some silly happening, I’m on a plane heading home and wondering where the time went. Inevitably, I will open the inflight magazine, flip to the map of the U.S., and start thinking about next year.

When the Vacation Ends: Burning Up On Re-entry

6 Jul

A new art installation in our bedroom is called "I'll Unpack When I Need The Suitcase."

When the alarm went off this morning I was in denial. The dog scratched at the door, and I pressed my eyes shut. The cat pawed at his food bowl, and I yanked the sheet over my head.

There is one universal, no-good, sucktastic thing about all vacations. They end.

A mere eight days ago, I was so naive. Full of joy and anticipation for the upcoming trip. “Stressed” about which bathing suit to pack and which winery to visit. Smugly, I told co-workers, “Oh, sorry. Can’t make it to the meeting. I’ll be away next week.” I didn’t even try to suppress a grin.

Away. Sigh.

Clearly not thinking about how the house will get painted.

Away is such a lovely word. When you are away, lunches for summer camp don’t have to be made. Weeding and lawn cutting can wait. Someone else can walk the dog and feed the cat. When you are away, your time is your own. And there feels like there is an abundance of it.

Until you have to come back.

Back is just no damn fun. “Oh, you’re back,” everyone says cheerfully. What are they so happy about?

Back is doctor appointments, and checking account balances, and responding to overdue emails. And, gasp, eating and drinking in moderation. Back is unpacking (eventually), exercising (well, maybe tomorrow), and laundry.

Did I really expect to eat this and still fit into my clothes?

I tried to cheer myself up by reading posts from travel bloggers about how they’ve made “away” their everyday. It helped a little.

Maybe someday, but for today I’m here.

I’m home, where there’s a comfy bed with no chance of bedbugs and a fridge stocked with non-indigestion-inducing foods. There’s a pool where I can float without being splashed or bumped, or forced to listen to Margaritaville for the seventieth time. There’s time for my blistered feet and sunburned shoulders to heal.

Ah, well. Maybe it’s not so bad. At least I have reliable Internet–so I can plan my next trip.