January 9, 2020

Why is it so hard to relax?!

I'm reading "The Secret to a Relaxing Vacation: Meticulous, Detailed Plans" (in NY Magazine), and I happen to know that market research shows — over and over again — that the main thing people say they want from a vacation is relaxation.

But there's a huge paradox. Traveled-to vacations are not necessarily relaxing. I see 3 choices here, one of which is something the travel industry (and the press outlets that sell travel advertising) do not want you to think about (except in a very negative way): Don't travel. If you want to relax during your vacation time, you could do that most easily by doing slow, pleasant, unchallenging things around the house and in your neighborhood.

The other 2 choices are:

1. Think of travel in terms of excitement, challenging yourself, and packing experiences into your memory bank. Give up relaxation as the goal. Relax when you get home (and reflect on the good parts the trip and gaze at your photographs).

2. Figure out how to experience relaxation while traveling. That's what this article is pushing you to do.
Spontaneity on vacation is wildly overrated.... A good vacation starts with buying and reading a good guidebook.... Can you buy tickets on the internet or on your phone? Is there a multi-museum pass that will save you both time and money?... Plan your sightseeing around avoiding crowds.... Can you... pay [for trains] contactless credit card or Apple Pay?... Sometimes, I worry that I have prebooked too many of the meals on a trip; in the end, I usually wish I had reserved everything ahead of time.... If you’re traveling in a group, someone should be in charge.... A plan to do nothing is still a plan that should be made in advance.... Most of all, don’t forget to have fun. I am not proposing that a vacation should be a death march....
There's a paradox within this option. It assumes you're someone who's bent on relaxation but nevertheless up for pouring a lot of time and effort into your trip. You've just got to do it at the planning stage. This advice could route you back to the idea of not traveling, because if you only travel after you've done all the pre-travel work, you may never travel at all.

111 comments:

Fernandistein said...

1. excitement
2. relaxation
3. curiosity, the secret being vague plans which can turn on a dime.

mccullough said...

Logging miles is for Hillary Clinton.

Hang out in your neighborhood instead of traveling. People are pretty clueless about their everyday surroundings. Visiting the Acropolis isn’t going to do anything for them.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

People find vacations stressful because they bring the source of their stress (themselves) along with them.

Learn to not stress, and you can enjoy a relaxing vacation, or just relax at home.

Limited blogger said...

When I run the vacation, it's all relaxation.

When my daughters are in charge, it becomes a stress-cation.

mockturtle said...

This advice could route you back to the idea of not traveling, because if you only travel after you've done all the pre-travel work, you may never travel at all.

To me, planning a trip is almost as fun as travel. And travel is my number one enjoyment.

Mattman26 said...

I would not want to travel with this anti-spontaneity person.

mockturtle said...

I travel for adventure, not for relaxation. I can relax at home.

PresbyPoet said...

Travel by train offers the chance to relax while traveling. We travel to Oregon to visit our daughter by train. The train has a dining car. They have sleeper compartments, so you can travel while you sleep. Even coach seats have as much room as first class plane seats.

You don't have to deal with the horror of airports and the TSA. You can sit in the observation car and watch the scenery slide by. The train stops in the downtown of the city where our daughter lives, so we do not have to fly to Portland and drive for hours in a rental car. It is not perfect, but it does offer the opportunity to relax while you travel.

rhhardin said...

There's nothing more relaxing that driving past the big Welcome To Ohio sign from Pennsylvania.

stevew said...

We need a agreed upon definition of relaxation.

For me that is doing something other than my usual work routine. Mrs. stevew and I went to Cinque Terra this past fall. Lots of hiking, sightseeing, great food, people watching, and quiet nights reviewing pictures and reading. Very relaxing. We had two days in Genoa at the end of the trip. Did a self-guided tour of cathedrals and other places of interest, and one of those open topped bus jaunts around town. Very relaxing. We also had a week at a cottage on Sebago lake in Maine last summer with our kids and their kids. Hanging out, playing games, swimming, quiet time reading books, and great food. Rented a pontoon boat one day and puttered around the lake. Very relaxing. And then there was the time we did a staycation - went to local beaches a couple of days, which we never do because MIL has a house on the Cape, did a guided tour of Fenway Park, and wandered along the Freedom Trail in Boston. Very relaxing.

But, again, the key to relaxing for me is to do things I don't ordinarily do. Where isn't the top of the priority list for me.

Nonapod said...

Travelling is generally stressful for most normal humans and not generally congruent with any idea of "relaxing". On the travel day typically you have to get up early to catch your plane ride, wait in long lines at the airport, endure the TSA, go through customs if your flying internationally. Then you have to sit imprisoned in the sky for several hours in a surreal cattle car. Then you have to disembark, aquire your luggage, pick up your rental car, get to the hotel, check in and then finally you can "relax" I suppose.

People seem to have the idyllic vision of laying on a beach with pristine blue waters and nobody else around. But usually beaches in vacation hot spots are flooded with tourists.

J. Farmer said...

I'm definitely a #1 kind of guy. "Relaxation" is never my goal when I am travelling. Usually it's the exact opposite.

But for people who do want relaxation on a trip, the only piece of advice I ever give is don't try to do too much. People seem to have this habit of thinking it's the only trip they're ever going to take, and they need to see as much as possible, do as much as possible, experience as much as possible. Reminds me of parents who take their kids to museums or zoos or something and then rush them through the exhibits so they can "see everything."

Jessica said...

I think there's another option -- go somewhere that is not your home that is nonetheless very close to home. I'm a stay-at-home mom and homemaker. I love the home that I run, but I can't truly relax there, in a "vacationing" way. There's always a mess to clean or a cabinet I could organize or a niggling problem I catch sight of; that leaves me feeling weighed down at home. Our solution has been to rent a remote cabin within 90 minutes of our house for a few days. It's a short drive, without the hassle of airports. Our family might take a short hike or a stroll around town, but mostly we sit around in our PJs, read, build fires, watch movies, and do jigsaw puzzles. It is TRULY relaxing.

J. Farmer said...

@mockturtle:

To me, planning a trip is almost as fun as travel. And travel is my number one enjoyment.

Right there with you. I even enjoy transiting through airports. It's like being on a human safari. Sit back and observe and your amazed at the sites you see. Lovers reconnecting, the teary-eyed types who are travelling for tragic reasons, the pushy frequent business travellers in their t-shirts and blazers, the church groups huddled together all wearing the same shirts. The overweight salesmen in crocs and polo shirts congesting business class with their mileage upgrades. I love it.

rhhardin said...

Sleeping with a puppy on your chest is pretty relaxing.

J. Farmer said...

@Jessica:

That's a great alternative, too.

I'd boil it down to this: do the things that make you happy, not the things you're told are supposed to make you happy.

traditionalguy said...

Travel gives you new surroundings. And new surroundings are a challenge to learn new boundaries, new customs, and new area’s history. So we enjoy that like we enjoy trying out a new restaurant. Some restaurants and some new surroundings are enchanting enough to go back again and again.

For example, try not to miss these:
Carmel by the Sea
Amelia Island
Charleston
Stratford, Ontario Festival
Oahu and Maui
Smoke Mountains
Phoenix Biltmore and Sonoran Desert
Cape Cod
Niagara Falls / Canadian side
Sonoma Valley

gspencer said...

Relaxation comes with doing different stuff. It's the change of pace and place that gives the vacation.

Big Mike said...

Our family has taken vacations that were pure relaxation — typically trips to the shore for a week where we lounged around while the kids (who are adults these days) played in the sand and swam. But our best vacations had a mix of exciting things we could only do where we were at — not anywhere near home — mixed with unplanned, unscheduled, relaxation time. Our oldest was four when he had a chance to climb a tower and hold a fish for a dolphin to leap out of the water and grab. He will never forget that.

AustinRoth said...

Travel for my wire and I is to see and experience the world. And planning for those types of vacations is indeed critical.

Temujin said...

Traditional Guy you nailed it.

I'll add in Sedona. Columbia River Gorge.

3 Steps to a relaxing vacation:

1) Turn off your phone. If you're with your spouse, you'll be able to communicate in a strange new way, while you look at him/her.
2) Do not check work emails and do not read blogs or news sites that you tend to do during your week (bye Althouse).
3) See #s 1 and 2. Repeat all vacation.

I've done it successfully just once. And it was the most relaxing vacation I've ever had.

bagoh20 said...

Relaxation as in doing nothing is for me boring and unsustainable. I relax by doing things I want to do rather than things that need done, but I need to be doing something. I can't even watch TV without having my laptop open and doing research about the thing I'm watching, or doing some online shopping, or just looking up answers to questions that pop into my mind all day long. I'm almost incapable of sitting still and doing just one thing. When I'm off work and for me relaxing, I'm running around jumping from project to project around the house. That clears out the anxiety for me. As soon as I stop being busy, I start worrying about my business and the people who work for me. That's the only source of anxiety I have left.

bagoh20 said...

As for traveling, me and my lady have completely different ideas of that kind of vacation. I want to do new physical experiences, and be away from people, see remote areas, but she likes touristy things and shopping. I hate that stuff. Every tourist location is exactly the same, selling the same stuff and catering to the same people. I swear they follow you around. Wherever you go, there they are again.

madAsHell said...

Spontaneity on vacation is wildly overrated.... A good vacation starts with buying and reading a good guidebook....

Don't let my wife see this......and don't buy a fucking guide book.

That guy hanging around the UNESCO sight, and offering guided tours?? He's a waste of money too!!

M Jordan said...

I’m on a winter vacation right now on the eastern shores of Lake Michigan. My wife and I take two trips a year here in the off seasons when our beautiful rental is half-priced, tourists are few (if any), and most restaurants are still open. We walk, we read, we eat out. That’s our very relaxing 4 or 5 day vacays in the dead of winter.

And we love it.

n.n said...

Unrequited expectations.

Paul Ciotti said...

I remember Robert Kennedy once taking a vacation to climb a mountain in Alaska. He said he wanted to do something so demanding that it required all his attention and thus enabled him to forget the stress of work back home.

Susan said...

I absolutely adore traveling. I will literally go anywhere to see new things, taste new foods and meet new people.

My dear hubby gets very stressed at the idea. He can't sleep away from home doesn't like new food. And really doesn't have fun doing anything that doesn't involve some kind of motorized speed.

Over the last 40 years we have learned to compromise on where we go and what we do. Our children are scattered around in various places and we mostly travel to visit them. Which is hard for hubby because then we are dependent upon them for transportation and scheduling around grandchildren naps etc. He likes to be in control.

If you need a set schedule and to control your environment, travel may not be your bag.

Seeing Red said...

Why is it so hard to relax?

Too much blue.....

ALP said...

Well put! My job involves endless deadlines, paperwork, and an eye that is always on the clock and/or the calendar. I define vacation as: any day I don't have to look at the clock to see what time it is.

ALP said...

mockturtle: I travel for adventure, not for relaxation. I can relax at home.

Perfect! There is 'vacation' and there is 'travel' - very accurate way to put it.

Kyzer SoSay said...

Vacations are about balance. My wife and I generally go for a 50/50 split of utter relaxation and comfort vs excitement and activity. Easy to do on our trips to Florida, where we can count on 5-7 days of great weather and thus schedule 3 or 4 days devoted to beach time, and then 4 or 5 more days of activities (some of which are relaxing, like a boat ride). When we go to Colorado, we generally choose daily hiking and nighttime carousing, with relaxation coming in the morning, drinking coffee and hot cocoa on a cabin porch among the mountains of Estes Park.

If we're going to parts unknown - Texas, Ireland, the Costa del Sol, we usually find things to do until we get tired, then spend a day relaxing and continue exploring the next. Some vacations are meant to be relaxing - others not so much.

rehajm said...

Every tourist location is exactly the same, selling the same stuff and catering to the same people. I swear they follow you around. Wherever you go, there they are again

There was a year back in the late 90s where we spotted Newt Gingrich everywhere we travelled. DC wasn’t a stretch, but Palm Springs, Florida, on our plane from Seattle. He even came close in Northern Idaho. It got to be a joke he was a stalker.

ALP said...

Susan: My dear hubby gets very stressed at the idea. He can't sleep away from home...

Me neither! No matter how comfortable or luxurious - I never sleep as well away from home. I usually work in a day at home to 'recuperate from travel' to catch up. Travel often involves long periods of sitting or standing (lines, plane seats etc...) so on top of eating richer food than normal, sleeping like crap, and stiff from all that sitting/standing..yeah I feel like shit after 'vacation'.

rehajm said...

Trips are more successful and enjoyable when we at least have an outline and have made reservations or planned times to avoid crowds. You can build on flexibility for everything else. Spontaneity is overrated.

JML said...

If you like to travel, travel. If you don't, don't travel unless you have to. We have a nice 20' RV - same model as my wife's sister and husband. They take it our for one to three months at a time putting a lot of miles on it. We like to go park it and camp. Walk a little, read, whittle, nap. After I retire we will do more distance travel with more stops - we will take ours out for one to three weeks at a time. I don't think we can last more than a month. In fact, I'm looking forward to getting better camp spots by getting there on a Monday or Tuesday rather than Friday or Saturday.

JML said...

rehajm said..

There was a year back in the late 90s where we spotted Newt Gingrich everywhere we travelled. DC wasn’t a stretch, but Palm Springs, Florida, on our plane from Seattle. He even came close in Northern Idaho. It got to be a joke he was a stalker.

We were in Italy in October, (didn't take the RV, BTW) and one of the couples in a food tour we took in Rome ran into Gingrich and his wife they day before.

rwnutjob said...

Shut the phone off & leave it in the cottage.
Empty beach, umbrella, novel, & cooler.
p.s. Don't talk to me.

rhhardin said...

My experience in business travel across the Pacific in the 60s, motels are the same everywhere.

MarkW said...

I’m on a winter vacation right now on the eastern shores of Lake Michigan

Oh, it's fantastic there in the winter -- spectacularly beautiful with the deep snow and ice. So much to do outside. Unlike the ocean, you get freezing along the coast, so you'll see lighthouses coated in amazing layers of ice like this and icebergs forming on the beaches later in the winter. And the restaurants we like don't close -- they just get less crowded. We go up there a lot in the winter a lot (what we avoid is the end-of-winter mud season -- that's when it's time a bit of the southwest).

mockturtle said...

Bagoh20 admits: I can't even watch TV without having my laptop open and doing research about the thing I'm watching, or doing some online shopping, or just looking up answers to questions that pop into my mind all day long. I'm almost incapable of sitting still and doing just one thing.

That describes me as well. Multitasking. All the time.

mockturtle said...

...and but she likes touristy things and shopping. I hate that stuff.

Eeeuuwww! Me too! I hate shopping at home and I certainly won't do it while on vacation!

tcrosse said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tcrosse said...

Relaxez-vous

SeanF said...

J. Farmer: Sit back and observe and your amazed at the sites you see.

madAsHell: That guy hanging around the UNESCO sight, and offering guided tours??

Did you two plan this ahead of time?

J. Farmer said...

@SeanF:

Probably not, since I was talking about airports.

J. Farmer said...

Ohh...site/sight. Haha. No I just type fast and almost never proof read. Assuming, after all, that that was what you were referring to ;)

Lucid-Ideas said...

I have done a lot of traveling. A lot. Unfortunately most of this has not been stress free but on those occasions I'm traveling for R&R I do have the following tips, especially if said travel is international or involves long flights (6 hours +)

1) Build time into your schedule on the front and back end for adjustment. Nothing spoils R&R like hitting the ground running if you're not ready. If your hotel room won't be available for several hours, DON'T go out. Stay there and hit the bar and find a comfy chair. Eat light your first day, don't shock your system with your normal routine in a place that your body knows is not its normal place.

2) When you get back, especially if jet-lag played a role in your travel, take a walk (hopefully the weather is nice and the sun is shining). Vitamin D and light exercise work wonders. The first few minutes might be tough as well as the motivation, but you'll definitely feel better.

3) Build a checklist at the beginning (i.e. turn of the stove, lights, etc.) but that is the only checklist you should have. Once all items are checked throw it away and think on it no more.

4) For the love of God pack light. Seriously you can everything you need there if you MUST have it. There is nothing worse than being overburdened trying to catch flight, having micro-transit plans change, or being stranded with too much baggage.

5) Don't drink too much. This is a tough one, one I've learned the hard way, and I'm still relatively young. Travelling even within the US by car state-to-state being hungover is the absolute worse, amplify suckitude by 5x travelling to Chicago from Singapore on a 17 hour flight.

6) Meet people, not sites. The internet is making going to a museum less and less necessary. It's all online. Battlefields too. The only reason to go to some of these places anymore is for selfies. That's it.

mockturtle said...

Great advice, Lucid! Two thumbs up.

JackWayne said...

Most everyone views a vacation/trip as a time to sight-see and Do Stuff. I dislike sight-seeing and Doing Stuff. My vacation every year is 2 weeks at the beach. I go down at 7 and return at 7. In between is beer, sandwiches, cokes, water, sitting, talking and walking. Nothing else. Seen one mountain or church or vista and you’ve seen them all. No thanks to all that scurrying.

Narr said...

If someone mentioned the derivation of 'vacation' I missed it: Freedom from something, an absence (for instance, of work) out of Latin if you can believe the Interwebs.

So there's definitely a sense of release from obligation; 'travel' OTOH is out of Anglo-French travaille, work, labor, even torment!

Released from one obligation, we undertake others.

Our recent fortnight in my cultural homeland, as part of a structured tour, but with substantial free time on our own, I compared to a cushy REMF job in Napoleon's day--we moved every 3-4 days, stayed in nice places, ate and drank well, but still had to hustle when it was time to hustle. Maybe that was inevitable given the places we were, and how they figured in that epoch.

I study. Having booked to start in Berlin, I recalled what I could of old classics like Watt's The Kings Depart, and Friedrich's Before the Deluge. Eyewitness Travel guidebook (available to you somewhere), check. Fine public and u library history holdings, check.
Five or six more Berlin histories or memoirs, including Richard Brett-Smith's The Grey City and George Clare's Before the Wall--these are fascinating personal accounts by men with the
British military and intelligence services in 1945 - 47. Tyrone Slothrop and other Gravid Rainbowites might like them.

Anyway, I was mentally prepared, not so much with a long list of must-see specific sites (the Eyewitness series really are good for planning and getting around) as with an ability to understand what I did get to see.

It was at times a travail.

Narr
My wife says she hasn't seen me so happy in years

Char Char Binks said...

Travel is travail -- not relaxing at all.

exhelodrvr1 said...

We're going to die in a couple of months because of global warming. How can I relax?

Clyde said...

During my vacation in late October-early November, I spent eight days on the Big Island of Hawai'i for my uncle's 70th birthday celebration, went home for three days and then flew to north Texas for a weekend family reunion and a quick visit to my hometown. It wasn't a relaxing vacation, but I saw some beautiful places and spent quality time with my family, and I wouldn't have missed it for the world. And the pictures? They were great!

Jamie said...

When my oldest son was four, we were visiting our relatives in southern California (therefore not going to a new place for us, but still a very beautiful one - they live in a beach town). I am not a beach person. But we took our son And our daughter, who was not quite 1, to the beach one day. I was pushing my daughter in a swing at a little playground overlooking the ocean, and my husband tapped me on the arm. He told me to turn around and look at our son.

Our four-year-old was perched on top of a huge boulder, cross-legged, just looking out at the waves. My husband took over pushing our daughter for a moment and I clambered up onto the rock to ask him what he was doing. He said, "I'm just enjoying this peaceful place."

That kid knew how to vacate.

Ann Althouse said...

“ To me, planning a trip is almost as fun as travel. ”

So another solution is to have a travel companion who feels like that and let them plan everything.

But is that kind of person a good companion on the actual trip? Who knows? If you’re not into planning, are you into following another person’s plans? I’ve never done that.

Lincolntf said...

I just submitted my Passport Renewal App today. I think Althouse confuses "relaxation" with being sedentary. Relaxation comes in many forms, even exertion. I'll be hiking the Moselle Valley in 6 months, and it will be as relaxing as anything else I could do. Planning for it isn't a chore, it's more like being a kid writing a wishlist for Santa. When you actually get somewhere, you do what you want.

MountainMan said...

I will be retired 4 years come March and the only thing I miss about my job is travel, mainly international travel. I did projects or presented at conferences in England, Wales, Germany, Austria. India, Singapore, Netherlands, and Canada and often worked in side trips on the weekends to other places, like Ireland, Scotland, Belgium, and Luxembourg. Often got to spend off-work time with co-workers in our offices there and visit with their families in their homes, quite often getting a home-cooked meal. I miss that a lot.

Since retirement my wife and I have been traveling a lot, it’s what we always planned to do. Our favorite type of travel is cruising, but we are very particular about our itineraries, ships, and cruise lines. We are mainly interested in historical and cultural touring and find that is a good way to do it, especially in Europe. We did a 2-week cruise from Miami to Barcelona in May, had 6 straight days on the Atlantic until we got to the Azores (and no internet!) and that was one of the most relaxing and enjoyable times of my life. Great weather, every day spent doing whatever I wanted, great food, no driving, no cooking, no cleaning, etc. I read 3 books. And we enjoyed our brief visits in Spain and Portugal and noted a few places we want to go back to in the future. We have 2 more cruises booked in 2020 - one is in the Baltic next fall - and 2 more in 2021, one for 2 weeks from New Orleans to San Diego through the Panama Canal (a bucket-list item for me) next winter and then one from Rome to Venice in the fall.

We also work in some nearby travels, like some others mentioned above. We have annual passes to Biltmore in Asheville and go there to see the rotating exhibits and also to have lunch or dinner. It is only a little over an hour away. We spend a week every year at a wonderful inn in Gatlinburg for our anniversary and spend time hiking and exploring the mountains. We also have gotten into the habit of making a trip with our older daughter and her husband once or twice a year. She is an ultramarathon trail runner and she is working on running a marathon in every state. I think she is up to 13 or 14 so far and we have been with her for about half of those. Next Oct she is going to Hood River, OR and run one along the Columbia River and we are going with them. Looking forward to that one as we have never been to OR.

mockturtle said...

Again, if you don't like travel, don't do it. It's really that simple.

Angle-Dyne, Servant of Ugliness said...

I find travel very relaxing. My rule is "I won't be rushed". If something requires rushing about, I don't do it. I'm a great dawdler. I stand around and stare at things. The worst travel mistake to me is biting off more than you can chew; getting tired. I don't care if everybody is passing me on a trail. I don't go to great museums and try to see everything on offer. (I pick a few things that can be seen in a leisurely fashion in the amount of time available, and I dawdle.) I travel off-season, or at least out of high season. I do plan very carefully (I find planning fun), but careful planning doesn't mean "rigid schedule". Quite the contrary. I plan carefully to keep things as loose as possible.

(But you know what? Some people really do seem to like rushing around. There is no "right way" to travel, but there are right and wrong travel companions.)

I don't "bucket list". The places I've wanted to see over the years are generally places that planted themselves in my imagination as a child or adolescent. I've rarely been disappointed taking those places as a base for just wandering around. I revisit places and things that impressed me on the first visit, and dawdle some more.

(Doesn't mean that there won't inevitably be exasperating moments - but staying at home has its inevitable exasperating moments, too. Unlike at home, most of my exasperating moments overseas are pretty comical.)

Lucid's tips are good, though I disagree with 6. Not the bit about meeting people, of course, but the belief that virtual is as good as real, as far as sites themselves go. I'm willing to believe people who tell me that looking at pictures is just the same as visiting sites, or seeing art and architecture, but that's not true for everybody. For me, these are usually very different experiences.

Char Char Binks said...

"We're going to die in a couple of months because of global warming. How can I relax?"

Give it time.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

For relaxing trips, I recommend Canada.

Lucid-Ideas said...

@Left Bank of the Charles

"For relaxing trips, I recommend Canada."

Second. Years ago I rented a Harley in Calgary and my gf and I rode to Banff (it was Summertime). Truly beautiful and relaxing. It's like Switzerland in the Rockies. Truly relaxing mentally and physically.

mockturtle said...

Amen to the real site vs. virtual one. There really is no comparison. But the 'meeting people' part can be more informative than guide books and often more rewarding than seeing notable monuments. Also, if you are in a foreign country, conversing with the locals is great practice with your language skills. And most people are quite forgiving of your faux pas. Locals are more apt to tell you the best place to eat or buy food or the best time to visit a gallery.

tim in vermont said...

There’s two kinds of travelers I once read, and I agree, “itinerists” who are not happy unless they are checking boxes that they set up before they travelled, and “meanderers” who are happy to just ‘be' in new surroundings. I am of the latter cohort. Here are my rules:

if you can’t travel for periods of at least a solid two weeks, consider upgrading to a sleeper class on your flight as this adds a day and a half on either side when you are not recovering from a miserable time trying to sleep sitting up surrounded by all manner of strangers many of whom have coughs that can make the plane sound like a medieval French prison. The flight is also nicer, but not nice enough to be worth the difference in price, but how do you value your precious vacation days, that’s the real value of upgraded travel.

Change hotels as infrequently as possible, meaning get a hotel in the center of things which serves as a base of operations with minimum logistic hassles. This also costs more, and is also worth it. If you can see a ton of things walking from your hotel, that is a great luxury. It doesn’t have to be L’Hotel de Paris, but it should be walkable to the stuff you want to see. Unpack your stuff and put in in closets and drawers and leave it unpacked for several days? That’s luxury and relaxation.

There they are. Now the real trick, which I was never able to manage with my ex wife, is to not get dragged around by your itinerist spouse, when all you want to do is drink Campari in the steamy afternoon heat in some shady courtyard in Florence when she is determined to see some knick knack carved by one of Michelangelo’s classmate’s third cousin.

Angle-Dyne, Servant of Ugliness said...

Also, ditto to the commenters pointing out that relaxation and lounging about are not the same thing. Intense activities (physical and mental) can be very relaxing.

John Scott said...

This one is for Ann

I'm self-employed with no employees and so I never take time off other than a couple of days between Christmas and New Years. However, because my wife and I are close to becoming empty-nesters, I thought it would be nice for the family to rent a house for a week in Fenwick Island, a place my parents used vacation growing up. I've lived in Los Angeles for 40 years. I found a house right on the bay just down the street from the one my parents used to rent. Other than a little day trip to the Naval Academe we did nothing but relax. The best part of the trip was just sitting out on the deck taking in the scenery (well, and the crabbing). That was two summers ago and I still think about it.



tim in vermont said...

I also highly recommend that you travel with a beautiful woman as your companion, as this will open doors you didn’t even know existed.

People talk about staying away from hot crazy girlfriends, but they too can be managed. First you get her an apartment in a fashionable, but not central district of town. Giver her enough money each month so that she can afford the gym, and to dress the part. Take her out to dinner a couple of nights a week, I am not talking Applebee's and take her with you on trips, but whatever you do, DON”T MOVE IN or let her move in with you. In this way you minimize the crazy, and enjoy the benefits of the hot.

tim in vermont said...

"Spontaneity on vacation is wildly overrated.... A good vacation starts with buying and reading a good guidebook.... “

I have a feeling that were I traveling with this person, he might find himself at the bottom of some Venice canal in cement overshoes on day three.

tim in vermont said...

"If your hotel room won't be available for several hours, DON'T go out. Stay there and hit the bar and find a comfy chair.”

I worked in Europe a lot and I am just the opposite. The first day is a write-off (not true going to Australia) so I drag myself around keeping myself awake, doing tourist stuff or whatever, until I reach some semblance of a normal bedtime in the new time zone. If I get anywhere near a bed or a comfy chair before then, I am going to pass out asleep and still be on the old time zone for one more day. If I can make it until 8 at night, then fall asleep, I can wake up only a little early, and get in a decent day’s work day two.

“e internet is making going to a museum less and less necessary.”

(cough) bullshit (cough)

It may be a waste of time to see the Louvre if you just want to see the famous paintings, but there are thousands of pieces of art there, amazing stuff you never heard of and probably never would if you didn’t go there. I like seeing the stuff created directly by human hands, especially the small stuff, little pen and ink drawings, carvings, etc. But yeah, seeing the Mona Lisa is a waste of time.

Angle-Dyne, Servant of Ugliness said...

Aunty Trump: I have a feeling that were I traveling with this person, he might find himself at the bottom of some Venice canal in cement overshoes on day three.

I feel that way about the authors of all the travel articles our hostess blogs about.

(In hell all vacations are taken with neurotic status-striver travel writers for publications with "New York" in their title.)

Howard said...

The only time anyone needs to relax is when moving the bowels.

mockturtle said...

Aunty Trump, visiting the British Museum is much like that. One could spend weeks in there. I've never been hot for museums in general but that one really is amazingly varied and fascinating.

mockturtle said...

And, IMHO, the only thing worth seeing in London.

tim in vermont said...

"And, IMHO, the only thing worth seeing in London.”

The Victoria and Albert Museum is pretty cool.

Unknown said...

So another solution is to have a travel companion who feels like that and let them plan everything. But is that kind of person a good companion on the actual trip? Who knows? If you’re not into planning, are you into following another person’s plans? I’ve never done that.

I've done this with a co-worker on business trips. He plans everything (project manager); I don't. It worked out great. I was always surprised because I didn't ask about the plans in advance. Time for dinner? He had a place picked out and directions to get there. I just tagged along. It also didn't spoil his plans if I wanted to wander off and do something else. I think that last part is key.

svlc said...

I always like to mix relaxation with something new and challenging. For instance, the wife and I flew to Amsterdam where we spent a week touring the city, art galleries, coffee shops and patisseries (very relaxing). Then we flew to Tanzania where we spent a week climb Kilimanjaro (not relaxing at all) and then a week on a Serengetti safari (beautiful and comfortably relaxing). It was a great trip.

Darleen said...

Our big trips were exciting and rarely relaxing - always something to see.

We've also done traveling to a single destination with the specific plant to relax. e.g. rented a small cottage in the mountains, brought food, books, music cds, dvds and did nothing more stressful than cooking and watching the antics of squirrels v bluejays around the bird feeder.

I don't find at-home stay-cations very relaxing as I feel compelled to be busy around the house.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

"why is it so hard to relax?"

OMG! Do you know who's president!!

Wow. Just wow. I'm like, literally shaking right now,

...and you wonder why it's hard to relax?
That's so racist I cant even.

Guildofcannonballs said...

Watching Pence at Trump's Toledo rally tonight relaxes me. What a decent, solid man.

Guildofcannonballs said...

Oh boy Big Don's about to speak! Not relaxed no more!!

USA! USA! USA!

Bill Peschel said...

Being poor makes travel decisions easy. We don't do it.

But the wife and I might get away in a few months. Friends of ours have a house a few miles from Ocean City. We plan to spend a few days there, walk the boardwalk, try the restaurants, stay home and write and read. We've gotten along pretty well for 26 years, so it's really no different from living at home, except with the chores.

If one of our books becomes a best-seller, that might change. I'd love to travel. We just can't afford it.

ALP said...

Those of you that really enjoy the planning aspect of travel should try the video game Death Stranding. Lots and lots of travel logistics.

FullMoon said...

Oh boy Big Don's about to speak! Not relaxed no more!!

USA! USA! USA!


Thanks for the heads up, just turned it on, he is going full WWE on Nervous Nancy and Pencil Neck Schiff.. humorously pointing out they could not be notified because they are un trustworthy.

SAD but true.

Bob Boyd said...

Suleimani let himself relax on recent trip and look what happened.

FullMoon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rick.T. said...

I recommend a road trip to:

Reno, Chicago, Fargo, Minnesota, Buffalo, Toronto, Winslow, Sarasota, Wichita, Tulsa, Ottawa, Oklahoma, Tampa, Panama, Mattawa, La Paloma, Bangor, Baltimore, Salvador, Amarillo, Tocopilla, Barranquilla, and Padilla

Boston, Charleston, Dayton, Louisiana, Washington, Houston, Kingston, Texarkana, Monterey, Ferriday, Santa Fe, Tallapoosa, Glen Rock, Black Rock, Little Rock, Oskaloosa, Tennessee, Hennessey, Chicopee, Spirit Lake, Grand Lake, Devil’s Lake, Crater Lake

Louisville, Nashville, Knoxville, Ombabika, Shefferville, Jacksonville, Waterville, Costa Rica, Pittsfield, Springfield, Bakersfield, Shreveport, Hackensack, Cadillac, Fond Du Lac, Davenport, Idaho, Jellicoe, Argentina, Diamontina, Pasadena, Catalina

Pittsburgh, Parkersburg, Gravellburg, Colorado, Ellensburg, Rexburg, Vicksburg, El Dorado, Larrimore, Atmore, Haverstraw, Chattanika, Chaska, Nebraska, Alaska, Opelika, Baraboo, Waterloo, Kalamazoo, Kansas City, Sioux City, Cedar City, Dodge City

Krishna Kumar Shrestha said...

Aggreed to this post about Relaxing.I also hope so that getting at rest at home is better option for relaxation. ladarijob.

Nichevo said...

Why is it so hard to relax?!


Babe I hate to break this to you, but the secret is... Have some orgasms.

Guildofcannonballs said...

My **** who recently went to San Fran said as him and his roughly 10 and 13 year old approached a street to go get some pizza a lookout said "Kids!" and no shit everybody straightened up (for the most part considering) and made a point to not be complete smoke-blowing junkies.

Happened ("Kids" and a mad dash to actually be cool appreciating humanity) on the way back to the very expensive (my friend didn't say it but I know it) Hotel 3 blocks from the pizza joint, which only had like 5 or 6 tables so looked like more of a take-out place.

The respect shown to my friend by street-people is admirable. Their code isn't sustainable and because as Americans we appreciate everyone is a way humanity as a whole has yet to catch up with, still, even in the heart of it, San Francisco CA, even street people had a code respecting decency.

Very impressive, of course just as a visitor staying in an expensive hotel and not spending any money on alcohol or drugs but instead giving land-bound children an oceanic experience.

God bless us all, everyone.

DavidUW said...

After many experiments, I've found that a relaxing vacation involves targeting a sight/museum/attraction, taking the supposed time required to see it, double it, and when you're done seeing it, wandering around to whatever catches your fancy.

Barcelona:
day 1) Sagrada, tickets prepurchased. after 3 hours or so, I'm done. So wander around. Oh, here's an interesting Spanish microbrewery.
day 2) Montjuic. after a few hours, wander down the hill. Oh, here's the Olympic stadium.
day 3) Wander to the train station. Look at the map. Oh. Girona. That sounds cool. I'll buy a ticket.

and so on.

Guildofcannonballs said...

CA and I met our peace when I visited and a whale said hey bro a few times.

Unforgetable.

Guildofcannonballs said...

Hey that ain'y coo. Hey fuckk you. That is the bullcuntshit. Fuck oof.. Fuck you. Buooollcunt.

"The Band Lyrics
"This Wheel's On Fire"
(from "The Last Waltz" soundtrack)

If your memory serves you well
We're going to meet again and wait
So I'm going to unpack all my things
And sit before it gets too late
No man alive will come to you
With another tale to tell
And you know that we shall meet again
If your memory serves you well

This wheel's on fire, rolling down the road
Best notify my next of kin
This wheel shall explode!

If your memory serves you well, I was going to confiscate your lace
And wrap it up in a sailor's knot and hide it in your case
If I knew for sure that it was yours, and it was oh so hard to tell
And you know that we shall meet again if your memory serves you well

If your memory serves you well, you'll remember that you're the one
Who called on them to call on me to get you your favours done
And after every plan had failed and there was nothing more to tell
And you know that we shall meet again if your memory serves you well


Writer(s): Danko Richard Claire, Dylan Robert"

Narr said...

I'm a "get out the first day there and stay busy" kind of traveler myself--as someone noted it seems to be easier to adapt to the local bedtime (that's true landing in Europe from here anyway).

Sitting in cafes gets pretty old, but my wife's Europals all insisted on some--I was able to let them have at it and go see stuff on my own.

If you're able, pay for quality and comfort. Upgrading the long flights has been mentioned, we might well do it next time.

And although we stayed in high-end hotels, it was always easy to find nice places to eat, including buying at the little groceries, and not spend tons on food and drink.

Within reason, treat every neighborhood you visit like your own.

Narr
Use the local lingo if you can

Guildofcannonballs said...

"no matter how they comfort you
with another tale
to tell.
You know that we will meet again, if your memory serves you well."

Guildofcannonballs said...

"We're going to meet again and wait"

We're going to meet anyway

Guildofcannonballs said...

The ways in which America 2020 are vast exceed description.

The ways China is a country of horrible people focused on other than their countrymen at the top is despicable.

India too.

Eureope? Who?

Africa is the planet's future, a glorious future indeed!

GRW3 said...

Got out of the airplane this summer and drove to Oshkosh from San Antonio with my son. What a pleasure. He wanted to go back to the big EAA Airshow to which I’d taken him when he was 12 (32 now). He drove about 40% of the time and, since he drives like me (assume everyone around you will do something stupid) so I could relax. It was fun watching him deal with varying accents. I’ve traveled to so many places and countries that I have a pretty good English dialect filter. He was lost some of the time. The prettiest part of the drive was transiting Wisconsin from Dubuque to Madison. The most boring was on I-55 through the Illinois cornfields.

Another trip I like, and have done several times, is the nearly 500 mile hike from San Antonio to the Lubbock area for a week long residential music camp, Camp Bluegrass. I’m thinking of going again this summer.

Guildofcannonballs said...

"And stay before it gets too late"

concrete-info said...

Thanks for amazing article quikrete-vs-concrete best

brylun said...

In two weeks we leave for a 3-week vacation in China and Vietnam. We were in China 5 years ago and still have 5 years left on the 10-year visa they granted to us. We go to Hong Kong, then to Saigon. I was in Saigon 50 years ago for a year during the Vietnam war, so I am curious to see how it has changed. After 2 weeks in Vietnam, we return to Hong Kong for a week. From there we will explore the Pearl River basin, where 50 million people live.

All of it is low stress and a great adventure. We rarely take planned tours when we travel and I leave the work phone at home. Anyone who takes money speaks English, and it interests me greatly to speak with the people about world events, history, etc.

Althouse, I think you miss the boat when you choose not to travel. It is an amazing learning experience. I learn so much about the country and region we are visiting because my interest is focused. Personally, I would be very bored seeing the same lake day after day. China's Summer Palace was built on a lake that was dug by hand, and to understand the history of the Summer Palace can give you insights on why China is pursuing such an aggressive outward foreign policy after millennia of looking inward.

Angle-Dyne, Servant of Ugliness said...

brylun: Althouse, I think you miss the boat when you choose not to travel. It is an amazing learning experience. I learn so much about the country and region we are visiting because my interest is focused. Personally, I would be very bored seeing the same lake day after day. China's Summer Palace was built on a lake that was dug by hand, and to understand the history of the Summer Palace can give you insights on why China is pursuing such an aggressive outward foreign policy after millennia of looking inward.

Althouse isn't missing the boat by not traveling. (And she would rightly point out that she wouldn't have to travel to the summer palace to learn about its history.) She doesn't like to travel to foreign places. Naught wrong with that in itself. It's true you can learn things traveling that you don't learn by staying home (I sure do), but there are lots of people who travel and manage to remain obdurately parochial nonetheless.

No, where Althouse misses the boat - "goes off the rails" is a better metaphor here - is in the need to convince herself that her preference for staying home is the correct, moral preference, and that everyone who claims to like travel is either lying or suffering from false consciousness (or just kinda stupid/ignorant/lacking in her deep wisdom, lol). It's just one of those topics that triggers the self-justifying sanctimony. Who knows why.

mockturtle said...

Nail on the head, Angle!

Ann Althouse said...

"Personally, I would be very bored seeing the same lake day after day."

I don't know you, but you are holding yourself open to the classic judgment that people who get bored are themselves boring.

Ann Althouse said...

"She doesn't like to travel to foreign places."

Not strictly true, but I know I've given reason to lead some people to make that generalization.

Ann Althouse said...

"No, where Althouse misses the boat - "goes off the rails" is a better metaphor here - is in the need to convince herself that her preference for staying home is the correct, moral preference, and that everyone who claims to like travel is either lying or suffering from false consciousness (or just kinda stupid/ignorant/lacking in her deep wisdom, lol). It's just one of those topics that triggers the self-justifying sanctimony. "

Eh. That's so full of misstatement and meanness about me that I don't want to put the effort into teasing it apart.

brylun said...

My comments were offered in the spirit of getting Althouse to reconsider and perhaps overcome her expressed aversion to certain travel.

Angle-Dyne, Servant of Ugliness said...

Eh. That's so full of misstatement and meanness about me that I don't want to put the effort into teasing it apart.

Love you, Prof, but your lack of self-awareness on this topic is notable.

I don't think my comments have been any "meaner" than what you've directed over time to people who disagreed with your views of travel. But people who've followed the various threads may judge for themselves.

(As an exercise for my own critical self-awareness I took the trouble to look up and re-examine a recent example - link - which at the time stood out to me as a gratuitously insulting rejoinder to a Paco anecdote. Yep, the dismissal of Paco's delight still looks awfully pissy and small to me.)

mockturtle said...

As Bobby Burns has mused: "O would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us."

Narr said...

I love you guys and gals.

Come for the travel talk, stay for the amateur psychoanalysis!

There's no right attitude to travel any more than there's a right attitude toward any other leisure time activity we might indulge. It's like arguing over attitudes to golf, or tennis.
(I know they exist, which is enough.)

Narr
But don't let me stop you

Hercules, not that one though said...

Get a ticket somewhere and nothing else. Go with the flow. Get there and then talk to people. Where can I stay? They'll tell you. It's travelling bare. It's very cool. It will teach you patience. Breathe. Do not plan. Get there, and then deal. Be patient, deal. Granted, it could be a 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles' kinda thang, but you'll never forget it! Did I mention it will be a 'Planes, Trains, and Automobiles' kind of thing. You'll never forget it. You'll never regret it. Travel bare!