The Vacation Paradox

Can’t Wait to Go, Can’t Wait to Get Home

Have you ever gotten halfway through a vacation you’ve been anticipating for months, and suddenly find yourself pining for home? Why do you feel this way, once you’re finally on your dream trip? It just doesn’t make any sense. I’ve asked myself this question many times. Recently, my wife and I were on an extended journey to Las Vegas and Sedona. This vacation has been in the works for over a year and we were both eagerly looking forward to it. However, I started feeling a little homesick during the Sedona part of our holiday. What’s the matter with me?

My wife and I really needed this vacation. Between working two jobs, writing this blog, editing my website, and hitting the gym three days a week, I was burnt out and needed to recharge. That said, why did I feel like I wanted to catch the first available flight home? Apparently, it’s not just me. Recently, I read an article that explains this phenomenon and how to deal with it. Basically, the piece said to recognize why you chose to go on vacation. To relax, let yourself go, and try new things. So go ahead and do it!

In addition to daily hikes to Bell Rock, Courthouse Butte, and Cathedral Rock, my wife and I took a tour of Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon. Beautiful locations, but not for the faint of heart. It was quite a workout hiking to these beautiful spots, but well worth it. That’s part of the equation. Shake up your routine. Pig out a little, sleep in late, take a hike. Do stuff you wouldn’t normally do, and for God’s sake, stay away from the scale! I learned that lesson a long time ago.

Once we said goodbye to Vegas and Sedona, I was content when our plane touched down at Detroit Metropolitan Airport. My brain immediately shifted into Fall Mode as I went through my mental checklist of all of the tasks that still needed to be done before Halloween. And that’s okay. Getting back into your regular routine is normal. As I picked out a couple of pumpkins from our local fruit market, I relished the crisp fall temperature. I also noticed that the leaves had changed from drab green into bright red and gold while we were gone. Love it.

So I guess my advice to combat the Vacation Paradox is simple. Consider all the time you spent planning and preparing for your trip. Think about how nice it will be to get away from all of your responsibilities for a while. Then RELAX, and enjoy your vacation. You earned it! If you’re like me, it’ll be at least six months before the next one, so live it up! When you get back home, the gym and salad bar will be waiting. Happy Vacationing!

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Vegas Baby!

Sin City is Calling

When was the last time you and some friends hit Sin City? Was it a Bachelor or Bachelorette Party, New Years’ Eve, or maybe even the Superbowl? Las Vegas has a tendency to creep up on you. My wife and I started coming here back in the 90s and we swore it would only be every four years. Then, it became every other year, and now it’s an annual event. We are wrapping up our latest trip this morning and we tried to remember how many times we’ve been here. I know it was before digital cameras, I can tell you that!

What used to be great about Las Vegas was that there was always some new casino, hotel, or shopping center to check out. However, 2008 put an end to all of that. In 2007, my wife and I had bought a timeshare with Hilton Grand Vacations on the north end of the Strip. We were assured that stretch of Las Vegas Blvd was going to be the next big boom area of the city. Yeah, not so much.

After the crash, many vacant lots were filled with billboards of what was Coming Soon! Like I said, not so much. Two places, in particular, stand out. The Fontainebleau, Las Vegas was under construction directly across the street from our property. It promised luxurious accommodations, an amazing casino, and fabulous shops that were sure to make the north end of the Strip buzz. Nope. All work halted after the crash in 2008. Now it’s rumored that Wyndham has bought the property, and has plans for new construction in 2020. We’ll see.

The second project that was left in the lurch was Resort World. Apparently, the brainchild of a Chinese consortium that promised an Adult Epcot. However, they wanted to import workers from China to build this amazing project. You can guess how that went over with the Las Vegas labor unions. Anyway, there has been some progress there recently. A new hotel has sprung up on the property, so there is some hope. However, the building is using the same tinted glass as the Wynn and Encore hotels. Boom, lawsuit. Construction continues though, so we’ll see what happens there.

On our last night, we always like to head Downtown for what my wife likes to call, The Freak Show. Between the street performers, photo op hucksters, and live bands, it is indeed quite a show. Downtown is the preferred spot for the younger generation. Cheap, or free entertainment can be found everywhere. Some of these kids are as entertaining as the performers.

One thing I couldn’t help but notice on this trip is that the photo op girls are getting way out of hand. The tiniest of coverings on their boobs and butts, definitely make this an Adults Only street show. However, there were some families are interspersed through the crowd as well. Honestly, what’s the matter with these people? Disneyland and Universal are five hours west! 

Oh well Las Vegas, we look forward to seeing what you have in store for us next time. As we pack up this morning and start the next leg of our trip to Sedona, I’ll take one last look at Sin City in the rearview mirror. See you again soon!

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Breaking Out Buzz

He’s Running Out Of Air!

Whenever my wife and I are traveling and we see one of those hotel room safes, we immediately have a good chuckle. We are instantly transported back to a family vacation in Orlando. My youngest son Kevin had managed to lock a VHS tape entitled, Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, in one of these safes. I distinctly remember hearing a metallic “click”, then hearing my older son Jeffrey shouting, “Kevin, what did you do?!” 

What followed was an embarrassing call to the hotel maintenance guy. His task was to find a way to crack open the safe and free Buzz from his Kevin-imposed death chamber before his air ran out (dun-dun-dun)! The safe was opened in the nick of time and Buzz was freed to continue his mission. Protecting the galaxy from the evil clutches of Zurg! Anyway, this whole episode was completely erased from our memories for many vacations. However, Jeff brought it up recently when he spotted a safe in a Las Vegas condo. I had completely forgotten about the whole thing.

What I do remember was how I had reacted to the whole situation. Back in those days, when it came to our vacations, I was a disciple of the great Clark W. Griswold. Everything had to go just right and if our plans went off the rails, I was not proud of my reaction. I think I have come a long way since then, although I still do have my “Clark Moments” from time to time. When this happens, I try to take a deep breath and remind myself to enjoy the vacation process. If nothing else, when things go bad, it can make for some entertaining family stories.

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The Vacation Mindset

How To Enjoy The Process

I mentioned to somebody the other day that I really enjoy going to the airport nowadays. It has ceased to be a hassle and has become part of the overall vacation experience. It’s all about adjusting your mindset. Being stuck in traffic on the way to the airport is just a reminder that you’re already on vacation. All of your travel companions in the cars around you are just heading to another day at the sweatshop. Not us! Woo Hoo! The same feeling hits me in random parking garages. I get flashes of parking a rental car in a resort garage. That vacation feeling hits me sometimes, even if I’m just paying my taxes at city hall.

It’s all about slipping into The Vacation Mindset. Pulling into the offsite airport parking lot is always followed by the frantic effort to unload the car before the shuttle pulls up. Upon boarding, my wife and I will often ask where everyone is headed. The business travelers look at my cargo shorts with envy as we catch the ride over to the terminal for our flight to Las Vegas, Florida, or Hawaii. Follow that up with our pre-vacation meal at McDonald’s or Starbucks and we’re definitely getting into the groove. As we sit at the gate reading, listening to music, or lightly napping, it’s all part of the experience. Even lining up to board the plane can be enjoyable if you chit-chat with your linemates. “How about those Lions?” The response, “Ugh!” See, we’re making friends already!

When my wife and I arrive at our condo resort destination, there was always one hour of each trip I would dread. Going grocery shopping in the morning. However, now we make it part of our vacation ritual. As soon as we arrive, we drop our bags at the condo and go out for a nice dinner. Either down by the pool bar, or at a local restaurant. Now, instead of hauling our butts out of bed in the morning to an empty kitchen, we force ourselves to take a post-meal walk in the grocery store. An added bonus is less impulse buying on a full stomach! There’s enjoyment in every phase of travel if you recognize it for what it is, VACATION! It’s just all part of the process. Aloha!

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Green Highway Signs

Becoming Part Of A Mobile Community

I have quite a drive to work. Thirty-one miles to be exact. It’s not that far, but when you factor in the afternoon rush hour and construction projects, a thirty-five-minute drive can turn into an hour. I’m not looking for sympathy, I just want you to know I spend a lot of time on the freeway. While driving home from work one day, I saw a sign that said Port Huron 74. I was reminded of something that struck me during our recent Florida road trip.

I never really noticed before, but when you’re driving on vacation, your focus is primarily on reaching the next major city on the green highway signs. However, many people in the cars around you are just driving through life. They’re on their way home from work, going to the movies, meeting friends at a restaurant, picking up their kids from practice, etc . . .

Driving home from work today I wondered, how many of these people around me are traveling to Pure Michigan on vacation? How many of them are heading west to Chicago, or California? While you’re driving on vacation, you’re just passing through. However, you’re temporarily part of that town, city, or village. For a brief moment, we are all part of a mobile community. As we drive on, we leave our travel companions behind. Soon, we join a new community and the process repeats. I find that kind of comforting.

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