Doing Nothing…And Not Feeling Guilty

Sunrise on Myrtle Beach, S.C. Our weekend there was like this: peaceful and refreshing.

Did you know that the first definition of the word vacation is a respite? (According to Merriam-Webster, anyway.)

It’s something that I often have to remind myself, because I’m the type of traveller who tries to cram 101 activities into a day when I’m on a trip somewhere. After all, I’ve paid hundreds (or thousands) of dollars for a flight or I’ve driven hours and hours to get there. And then there’s the cost of a hotel…and the knowledge that I may not get a chance to come back any time soon. If ever. So I’d better make it worth it, right?

I also grew up with a military father who created minute-by-minute itineraries for trips, however, so it may be in my blood. It always seems like there’s one more castle or cathedral left to see, one more museum to explore, one more beach activity to try. I can sleep when I get home, after all, and the podiatrist can fix my aching, swollen feet if I happen to injure them from walking too much. (Don’t laugh: It’s happened twice.)

My husband, however, is the opposite. To him, a vacation is much less about culture and exploration and far more about relaxation and good food. (And fishing.) He feels the same way about weekends.

I’m starting to see his point, though. While I’m still not going to waste my (our) money to go to Europe and then sit around doing nothing at cafes all day, every day, I think building a relaxation day or two into a trip is a good idea, a way to refresh and re-energize oneself for even more castles and cathedrals.

And an occasional weekend trip with no agenda, no itinerary, without even tentative plans, can be sheer bliss. We did this, actually, for one of my favorite vacations. We drove down to Myrtle Beach from D.C. last President’s Day weekend, and did nothing for two full days but walk on the boardwalk, watch movies, stare at the ocean, fish (John), read (me) and write (again, me). Our room had a kitchen, so we even brought our own food for breakfast and dinner. For lunch, we walked to the tiny seafood restaurant on a pier behind our hotel.

It was a perfect weekend.

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