Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Vacations - the Good, the Rad and the Knarly

The word Holiday is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as follows:
A day on which one is exempt from work; specifically: a day marked by a general suspension of work in commemoration of an event.
I think we can all agree that a holiday’s purpose is to take time away from work. For example, that could be a week or two away from your office or business, or for a stay-at-home parent, time away from the usual household chores, or generally from any situation that involves ‘deadlines’ and ‘must-dos’. I’ve also heard that trying to have a conversation with someone like Paris Hilton, Megan Fox or for that matter any political figure could be described as ‘work,’ (or they could be described as 'a piece of work') but I think that’s a little bit out of the description we’re looking for today.
So, with that in mind, of the following vacation types – which one would you say is most in line with the type of holiday you crave?

The Resort Rat (a 'turn me over when I'm done' kinda holiday)
Lying back and doing absolutely nothing but soaking up the sun is peaceful, and I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t find it relaxing and rejuvenating. I believe it’s in our nature, if even only for a short time, to lay back and be as unproductive as possible. That’s what all-inclusive resorts, hotel spa programs, cruise ships and road construction projects were created for. Ha!

Your butt goes here.

Typical family resort behaviour. I can't even count how many shots we as a family have exactly like this...

Many of my friends (and even myself, to a small degree) love a holiday that involves beaches, pools, swim-up bars and time-freeing kids clubs. A holiday like this means rest, relaxation, tan lines, and ultimately other people doing as many things as possible for you (within reason and within the realm of the law, of course - unless you're in Thailand).
With thousands of these kinds of small villages in Europe, how can you ever go wrong on a multi-day cycling trip?

The Adventure Traveler (a rugged adventure - but not without a mint on the pillow at night)
Now this kind of vacation takes a little more effort, and usually doesn’t include a broken-English speaking servant named Manuel finding out your drink and food preferences. If you’re the kind of person that loves to be on-the-go and you’ve signed up for an adventure travel type of trip, you’re in some way responsible for getting yourself from point A to point B, likely by bike, kayak, foot, or even as illustrated below.

I have no idea what kind of insurance would cover you in any situation where you choose to stand on the back of an elephant...

It may seem like a lot of work, and certainly it can be, especially if for example you’re cycling through the back roads of southern France and discover exactly how much effort it takes to cycle up the ‘picturesque and character-filled’ hills. (Warning – in France, every old village is built at the top of a hill – they say it has something to do with centuries-old defense systems. In my mind, I think it’s more because they want to make the cyclists earn those chocolate croissants and cappuccinos they’ll be devouring for breakfast.)  
There are rewards as well to this type of travel. Once you’ve finished your day, most often there’s a luxurious hotel, a wonderful meal and bottle of wine waiting for you back at your three or four star hotel, nestled within a thousand year old village full of life, history, culture, and likely, other adventurers like you. Some are recognizable by the bandages they wear after going down a hill much too fast and crashing head first, others by their funny bow-legged walking style after 8 hours on a bike, for 6 days in a row.
Adventure Junkie (where the return portion of the flight is not always necessary)
This kind of vacation, in a word, is mayhem (note: I’ve always loved the word mayhem. Sadly, having done many Google map searches, I’ve never been able to come up with a town or city anywhere in the world with that name – otherwise I’d travel there in a heartbeat).

If the board had a cup-holder, I'm sure I'd give this a try too.

Some vacationers can’t sit still longer than the time it would take to sit on an all-inclusive resort swim-up barstool and order a drink - and if they did, that drink is more likely to be a high-energy protein shake than a pina colada or margarita. These people tend to be labeled as ‘adventure-junkies.’ You've seen them around - typically they drive perpetually mud-caked Subaru Foresters, dress with at least one layer of fleece to top out their outdoorsy outfit, and they name their dogs after 11th century philosophers and physicists. 
Their idea of a holiday involves putting themselves in near-death situations. This may include climbing a 90 degree face of a mountain (usually named after the first person silly enough to try to climb it, who died trying to do so, and who’s body was likely never found), kayaking down class 5 rivers sporting nothing more than a wet-suit, a helmet and a sack full of ‘woo-who’s!,’ or participating in an ultra marathon in the middle of a desert, surrounded by snakes, scorpions, and man-eating coyotes, all after training for the 20 weeks leading up to the holiday, not eating anything more in a day than a handful of carrot sticks and the occasional organic energy bar. 
These are the people who proudly declare ‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead.’ Some of my friends (crazy as they are) are like this, and when they say this, I believe them (then I politely ask if they mind if I take out an extra insurance policy on them...).

As Long As You Get Away
Vacations mean different things to different people. And for this, I’m truly glad. Otherwise the next time I’m on a multi-day cycling trip through southern Italy, or when I’m kayaking off the coast of Vancouver Island, or even sitting at a café in a quaint little Spanish town after a day's hike, I’d literally be elbow to elbow with a bunch of like minded travelers all trying to have the same experience. I personally prefer to have a little more space and don’t mind getting up, at least on occasion, to get my own drinks. But heck, if someone wants to bring it to me, who am I to refuse?