A mid vacation respite is a time on your trip when you can take a vacation from your vacation. One of the most challenging things about planning a trip is trying to cram in as much as possible. No matter where you go, you will have to make tough choices about what you will be able to see and what you will have to skip until the next time around. Our natural inclination is to pack our days and nights as full as possible, each and every day. Logic tells us we only have so much time to be away from our everyday lives, so it would be a waste to not to zip around from place to place as fast as we can.
Well, let me tell you from someone who has been around a time or two, it is awesome to be able to take a day or two and relax in the midst of your action-packed adventures. In thinking back to some of our trips, this mid-vacation respite can come in a few different ways: planned, chanced and forced.
When I joined my friends on a trip to Europe, I was not involved in the planning. This is because I decided I was going to tag along a few weeks before they left on a trip that had been in the works for months. Luckily for me, the chief trip planner is a wise woman and in the middle of us zipping around to many cities within seven different countries, we made a stopover in the lovely Cinque Terre in Italy. It seems strange to me that after I finally made it back to Europe, with all of the interesting things to see and do, I was happy to spend several precious days in a very small area. However, after the hustle and bustle of traveling, unpacking, exploring, packing, traveling, unpacking, exploring, packing, etc. for a few weeks, it was delightful to just stop and smell the sea water.
In our tiny town of Vernazza, we bunked down and got to know the town and the people. Half of our group became regulars at a local cafe that served amazing hot chocolate. My favorite part of staying in one small location was that I could really get a feel for what it would be like to be an average Jane in a town like this. There was a waiter at one of the restaurants on the square who was a case study in small town Italian life.
Tulio was a twenty-something-year-old who married a pretty girl and had an adorable baby. He would work at the restaurant, get yelled at by his mother-in-law for not working hard enough, and then play soccer with his buddies when it rained or the tourists went away. For several days we watched Tulio and his routine; for him and for us, time seemed to slow down in this idyllic town. With our batteries recharged, we were able to push through the rest of our action-packed trip.
When researching Bali, B found a region of the island that was a little off the beaten track and was supposed to be very pretty. Not knowing much more than that, we found a hotel online and reserved a room for a couple of days. Little did we know that this place was going to be one of the highlights of the trip. We arrived in the chill town of Lovina after a few hectic days in Ubud. Our introduction to the town included watching the sun melt into pinks and purples while sitting on a dock. This was a very auspicious beginning.
The biggest decision we had to make during the next few days was whether to spend the day relaxing at our pool or spend the day relaxing at the beach? Rough life, I know. One day, as we were looking for a place to set up camp on the beach, we noticed a few umbrellas down the way. We decided to check it out and our gumption was rewarded with the opportunity to hang out all day long on turquoise-colored recliners. All we had to do for this privilege was order a few tropical smoothies every now and then. It was not a difficult decision to make. We even stayed for dinner and another beautiful sunset.
The hotel we stayed at only had two other guests; a delightful Australian couple. Because the hotel was small and intimate, we felt totally at home and were able to decompress without worrying about what was coming next. Serendipitous events happen all of the time while on vacation. The important thing to remember is to embrace what is happening and enjoy it. We didn’t have a particular reason to venture into Lovina, but it sounded like a good idea so we went with it. After a few uber-relaxing days in the sun, we we ready for the next phase of the trip.
It would be naive to think that everything will go as planned on your trips. Things don’t go as planned in normal life, so why would they on a trip? The trick is to not let it ruin your vacation and instead make the best of things. When we visited Eastern Europe, we planned our trip for the Spring. Spring in this northern climate can be a tempestuous thing and sure enough, after spending a few lovely days in Poland and Latvia, the rain hit us in Tallinn, Estonia. Since the weather was rainy, it didn’t make sense to do day trips to places where we wouldn’t be able to see much. This forced us to reassess our plans and for the majority of one day we actually stayed holed up in our house where we read, napped and wrote in our travel journals.
This might sound boring, but it was actually fantastic. Granted, we were staying in the coolest place any of us have ever stayed (a renovated, 14th-century, medieval chapel). It was crazy atmospheric to be lounging around in a place with wooden beams and gothic architecture while hearing the rain pitter patter outside. Instead of feeling like we lost a whole day on our trip because of the weather, we were grateful for the forced relaxation and quiet time in the middle of the hustle and bustle that comes with traveling.
Mid vacation respite: just do it
We’ve all heard the phrase, “the calm before the storm.” In relation to traveling, the mid-vacation respite is the calm between two storms. During this time you get to collect yourself, catch your breath and prepare for the next thing coming at you. Of the three options–planned, chanced and forced–you can only really control the first. When you are planning a trip, know that you are going to appreciate some time in the middle of the chaos to just chill.
As I type this, B and I are in the middle of planning a major trip to Australia. It is super challenging to keep a day or two to minimal activities. Additionally, the country is so big, we are at the mercy of flight schedules. If you, like us in Australia, can’t force yourself to stay in one place for too long, you can rely on the other two options. Because of the challenge of transportation, we will most like be forced to spend longer than we want to in one town. Our options are to either rush to catch a crappy flight and arrive in our next destination a few hours earlier, or take it easy, ride a bus and arrive a few hours later. In this case, our mid-vacation respite will probably include a few bus rides were we can chill and check out the scenery.
Travel comes with all sorts of unexpected and unplanned for things–even to people who spend hour and hours planning. This can make you uncomfortable, but it also opens up the doors to serendipitous and wonderful experiences that you had no idea existed.