How do you vacation, travel and relax?
October 26, 2004 11:28 PM   Subscribe

How do you take a vacation? I want to take a few days off, get away from home, relax and not feel any particular pressure to do anything. It seems like every vacation I've ever been on has been work. If I'm not touring or driving, I'm skiing or hiking. I don't want to take time off and just be home, but I don't know how to travel and relax. Any general tips or specific vacation recommendations?
posted by croutonsupafreak to Travel & Transportation (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I tend to go on vacation by finding a hotel in an area that has lots of things to do, and some interesting places to not do anything, then just go for it day to day.

Get a comfortable rental car and a hotel room that's nice enough that staying in it is also an option, and then just do whatever.

On a weeklong vacation, it's unlikely that we ever have more than one or two specific events planned.
posted by mosch at 11:33 PM on October 26, 2004

Go to a tiny speck of an island where there is nothing to do except lie on the beach, snorkel, and catch up on your reading. Drink beer and play scrabble in the evenings. Talk to the locals. Have a holiday fling with an Italian scubadiver who can't speak any English. I recommend Palau Perhentian in Malaysia.
posted by dydecker at 12:52 AM on October 27, 2004

Go on a group tour. They're not all full of old people. The Green Tortoise is a blast, for example. And there are lots of outdoorsy-type travel companies that will take you out and around to do cool stuff. I did a week in Beijing last December and it was great. We went to 3 different places a day, were introduced to locals, who often joined us for dinner, we had access to a guide we could ask questions of, and we didn't have to plan/book/worry/schlepp at all. I generally don't travel this way, but I enjoyed that trip and got a lot out of it.

Getting a package deal or tour isn't for everyone. Most people I know wouldn't touch them with a ten foot pole, because your experiences are "mediated" by a guide. But if relaxation and fun are your main priorities, who cares if you don't have the most beatific and authetic cultural experience? Go, see, do, relax, and let someone else do the planning/booking/worrying as you go.

The benefit of a package is you pay once and someone else has thought most of the practical shit through. The larger the group the less efficient everything is, so go for a small group if possible. And you're less likely to get stuck with a bunch of sissy tourists if you do something adventurous.
posted by scarabic at 1:15 AM on October 27, 2004

An all-inclusive resort like Club Med is perfect for this. Just book, go, and once you're there you can pretty much figure out what you want to do day by day - if it's a whole lotta nothing the place will cater to that; if you want to learn to windsurf and bungee jump and eat weird things you've never tried before, you can do that too.
posted by ikkyu2 at 3:07 AM on October 27, 2004

What is this "vacation" you speak of?
posted by damnitkage at 5:55 AM on October 27, 2004

Go someplace mellow and stress-free and try a new drug. Hash, for instance.
posted by signal at 6:12 AM on October 27, 2004

First thing you probably want to do is figure out what you like doing, when you get to choose. Do you like outdoor activities, sitting on your ass reading, lying by the ocean, eating high end foods, visiting family/friends, learning local history, drinking unfamiliar drinks? Do you like being someplace familiar or are you more interested in going someplace you've never been. For me, a vacation is no forwarding address, leaving my laptop behind, and taking my camera and binoculars and getting somewhere I've never been before that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. On my last vacation, I drove a few hours north of here and stayed at a B&B hunting lodge that was almost in Canada and on a lake. I didn't have to worry about meals, there were a lot of places to sit and read, there were a lot of places to walk around, there were a few spare kayaks, and I had the option to talk to folks but I didn't have to. Other things on my short list are taking a ferry to Nova Scotia from Maine [good weekend package tours], going back to Alaska on the marine highway ferry and getting back to Toronto one of these days. For me, the travelling is the vacation as long as I've got books to read and no email to reply to.
posted by jessamyn at 6:43 AM on October 27, 2004

Rent a condo on Maui. Surprisingly affordable.
posted by smackfu at 6:46 AM on October 27, 2004

Do you not like skiing, hiking or touring? If you've stopped enjoying those things, stop taking vacations to do them...

Maybe you should try to figure out the things about your vacations that are making them seem like work to you. Is it the schedule? Is it being in charge? Is it not being in charge? Then militate against those things. If it's the schedule, don't schedule anything; if it's having to make choices and deal with minutiae, go on a tour. Etc.

The vacations I really enjoy entail getting a room someplace interesting (like Vancouver or Reykjavik), then just going out walking around the place. By that token, the conferences I've gone to in New Orleans could constitute vacations (though I came back exhausted). My mom calls it a "vacation" when my family gets together for a week -- that, AFAIAC, is work.
posted by lodurr at 7:23 AM on October 27, 2004

What doesn't work for me?

Part of it is feeling like I need to do something. If I pay a bunch of money to go skiing and I wake up one morning and don't feel like skiing, I'm stuck choosing between wasting my money and doing something I don't feel like.

I think the schedule is a big part of it, too.

I really like jessamyn's and lodurr's suggestions. I think it's time to start looking for bed and breakfasts or hotels in interesting places. Thank you.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 8:06 AM on October 27, 2004

Have you ever done touristy stuff in your own home town? I find that people I know tend not to go to the tourist-type things in the towns they live in.
posted by alumshubby at 8:10 AM on October 27, 2004

While it can be tacky, a short cruise might be nice if you want to be Not Home and pampered with little to do. Pick one with an unchallenging itinerary and bring clothes a little bit too big.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:52 AM on October 27, 2004

Go to the beach. Get some paperbacks. Eat at restaurants. It's getting colder, so somewhere south would be good.

If you have a grand or two to blow, I'd second Maui. Beautiful beaches, great food. Best weather ever. Hit your ankle with a hammer to make sure that you don't hike, and you'll be as relaxed as you'll ever get. Go snorkeling, but off of a tourist boat.
posted by callmejay at 8:56 AM on October 27, 2004

Relaxing vacations I have enjoyed in recent years, in decreasing order of luxury:

- Charter a sailboat. Anchor it someplace suitable and stay there for a few days. Requires lots of preparation, but once you're there it's a good life until you run out of food.

- Go crash at a friend's house for a while. Raid their fridge while they're at work.

- Rent a cabin. Someplace isolated.

- Hike or canoe somewhere not too far from the highway, and just camp there a while.

- Find a cheap motel, one where they rent rooms by the week, within walking distance of someplace decent to hang out.

- Get an old sleeping bag and hang out with the homeless in a big city somewhere.
posted by sfenders at 1:21 PM on October 27, 2004

I try to keep every other day totally free while on vacation for wandering and stuff, and the other days make plans for just one thing--say, a big or must-see museum or cathedral, with the rest of the day free for whatever i encounter on the way there and back (which always works out incredibly well). And I stay away from internet, telephones, and newspapers. I also take a few hours off from late afternoon til evening each day if i can, and use that time to update the travel diary and watch weird foreign tv. : >
posted by amberglow at 5:55 PM on October 27, 2004

When I visited Greece, I knew I was going to burn out fast if I started in Athens, so I arranged to spend the first few days in Khania, a town in western Crete. It's ancient (its classical name, Cydonia, is the origin of the word quince) and was the capital of Crete for a while, but there's really nothing to do there: no acropolis, no ancient ruins, no must-see churches, just some Venetian walls, a quiet little museum, and a gorgeous enclosed port. I found a ramshackle hostel and had a wonderful time wandering the streets, checking out the covered market, sipping retsina... It's the best place for a real vacation (as opposed to running yourself ragged doing all the things you're supposed to do in whatever tourist site you've gone to) that I've ever been, and I highly recommend it. A few days to a week there, and I promise you'll be rested and enjoying life to the full.

Of course, they say South Sea islands are nice too, but I've never been, so I wouldn't know.
posted by languagehat at 7:52 PM on October 27, 2004 [1 favorite]

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