Are vacations necessary or just plain frivolous? Here’s a look at our recent vacation, and why getting away from it all can be good for us. In fact, it may actually be written in our genetic code!
Homesteaders tend to be a frugal, focused bunch, so the idea of taking a vacation can seem downright frivolous. But I tend to think we can recharge our batteries by getting away from the weight of daily “shoulds” and “need tos”. Changing the scenery offers a chance to focus on being together as a family (as opposed to the daily doing together as a family).
For our recent vacation, we wanted to quiet our minds of the daily static, enjoy a beautiful view, and have opportunities for quietude, as well as connecting with one another. As a foodie, I wanted to eat good food. I was amazed that we found all of those things in one place on the beautiful California coast, and still came in under the vacation budget!
Take a Chill
Getting away is a chance to let loose a little, which I admit, is a challenge for me. As a type-A personality, I enjoy working toward personal and family goals that accomplish useful and necessary things. I can work from sunup to sundown and not even notice where the time went! As useful as this type of focus can be for accomplishing short-term goals, it’s also a recipe for missing out on life. In other words, a balance needs to be struck between working and enjoying the people/world around you.
Stay-cations are amazing periods of time where Mr. TAF takes vacation days from work, I take a break from writing, and the two of us work on homestead projects and enjoy our home. I love these times, but they are still mostly focused on the doing. Completing projects is very satisfying, but there will always be projects to complete.
There won’t always be time to experience new adventures with loved ones.
A vacation also doesn’t have to be anything fancy or exotic–it could be a couple of nights in a tent at the nearest campground. To take my mind away from the to-do list, I need to go off the reservation, however near, far, fancy, frugal, short, or long the trip is (I’m not picky!).
Our egos have a hard time disconnecting from the idea of our life; our identity.
Do you find yourself unable to disconnect mentally or electronically from your ‘real life’?
On this vacation, we made a conscious effort to refrain from inundating Facebook with pictures of our trip or mentally evaluating our ‘real life’ to-do lists. Instead, we took in the breathtaking views we paid to experience, and engraved them in our minds for posterity.
A vacation takes planning, budgeting, coordination, and most importantly, mental preparation. We knew there was going to be a pile of work waiting for us when we returned, so we wanted to make sure the trip was worth it, and not a continuation of the daily thinking and planning.
Is it in our Genes?
Much like our primal ancestors of long ago, the seasons of spring and fall mark a time of excitement and preparation for the hot or cold weather to come. In many traditions these would have been a time to migrate to a cooler site or to a spot that was protected from the winter winds. Perhaps this new location was tied to the availability of a food source.
To Every Thing there is a Season
I think that because of this seasonal migration, we are hard-wired to desire a change in scenery on a seasonal basis, and I use this theory as an excuse to try to get away at least once per season–to a place that will allow me to connect with the current season (not my to-do list).
It doesn’t have to be four blow-out vacations, it could be a weekend to the nearest campground with an opportunity to view the moon and stars.
The View on High
Did you know that it’s also in our genes to desire a view of water from a high vantage point? We evolved to build settlements on hillsides overlooking water sources. Researchers at the University of Delaware showed people different scenes of urban and natural environments, and the subjects consistently registered more positive physiological states when looking at water.
Our primal ancestors were connected to nature all day, every day. Nature was their being. It’s in our genes to need this exposure. They also had larger spaces to roam than a tenth of an acre surrounded by other people and all their stuff.
That’s why we chose a secluded spot for this vacation where we could be in nature without chatty neighbors, airplanes flying overhead, or fenced-in dogs barking their heads off. Sure, we ate, drank, and were merry, but we also sat for hours on end with our bare feet in the sand, watching the pelicans, sea gulls, and sea lions.
When I’m observing them, I’m not thinking about my ‘real life’ or telling everybody on Facebook about it as if my identity depends on the number of ‘likes’ my status update gets. I’m just BEING. It clears the head.
Why do you Vacation?
Vacationing can have different purposes, and that will certainly depend on your stage in life and your personality. Families with young kids may not be looking for the same type of quietude as we were on our most recent trip. You may be looking for fun, lively adventures to experience as a family, and a chance to make special memories.
I’ll never forget my family’s first vacation to Florida when I was a little girl. We shouldn’t have gone–it was too far out of our budget–but my dad insisted that we made some special memories together. I was amazed by my first views of the ocean and loved the hours quietly playing in the sand with my brothers. I remember the nice man at the restaurant that bought our family’s dinner when we had run out of money on the way home dealing with a broken down car. It wasn’t an ideal trip, but it was an adventure, and one that we all talk about to this day (and now laugh about).
For the skill-focused among us, traveling allows us all kinds of problem solving opportunities. It sharpens the brain.
But one thing’s for sure: Vacations cost money, and you should return feeling different.
Vacation is an invitation to be a human BEING not a human DOING.
It is an opportunity–if fleeting–to just be. Human. Carefree. To experience being alive without all of our ideas of who we should be and what we should be doing.
After some days of being, with clear heads and from afar, we were able to have some ah-ha realizations about our household priorities and progress. We reconnected with one another and reassessed our goals, without the distraction of identity (and cell phone towers).
We’ve come back just a little overwhelmed with the tasks waiting for us, but more than that, we have a clarity of mind, purpose and motivation to ‘just keep swimming’. Vacation is renewal.
What do you look for in a vacation? How do you hope to feel when you return?