Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer. Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller and more of it can be taken in at a glance and a lack of harmony and proportion is more readily seen.” -Leonardo da Vinci
I once had a friend ask me how I could enjoy taking vacation. Looking back at her, I didn’t know what she meant. She explained further. “I don’t get to relax at all when we’re on vacation. The kids are always at each other. Mealtimes are the worst, and they never want to ride in the car, or airplane. It’s like we shouldn’t even try to go, because vacation never turns out like I hope.” I didn’t really have an answer for my friend on that day, but the conversation has never left my thoughts.
Since we’ve lived in Europe, my family and I (my husband and I have 3 school-aged boys) have had the incredible opportunity to travel extensively. But, we have taken advice from very wise friends before we left the US. They encouraged us to travel as much as possible, because the expat assignment is such a unique opportunity to see the world with our family. We have taken that advice to heart. So far in our 2 1/2 years in Prague, we’ve traveled to 21 countries, and in this year alone, we have stood with our toes in the Baltic, North, Mediterranean, Tyrrhenian, Ligurian, Adriatic, and Aegean Seas. (the 7 Seas!)
But, all travel comes with its hardships. I have learned a little about travel and what suits me and my family.
One thing is this:
Travel in and through foreign cities is not relaxing.
It doesn’t matter if I’m overlooking Prague:
Traveling in and through dense crowds of people does not equal a restful and relaxing vacation.
Instead, I am learning what is relaxing, and what makes up the kind of vacation (the one I highly prefer) I call a Getaway. Because it is just that, a getaway from the busyness and stresses and pressures of everyday life. An escape.
My definition of a Getaway: to step away from it all, to let the soul catch up to the body
Here, 7 Ingredients to a Great Getaway Vacation:
1) Time to listen: to the rhythm of waves crashing along a shore, to the birds, to the sound of silence
2) Time to eat: to try local cheeses, olives, produce, meats
3) Time to drink: to slow down and enjoy local drinks like wines or cappuccinos
4) Time to see: to look and really see the colors of the surrounding landscape, of flowers, and water, and sky
5) Time to sleep: to rest with no alarms
6) Time to feel: the warmth of the sunshine, the sand scrub of walking along a beach, the caress of the breeze
7) Time and space to walk: miles of beach or fields or mountains
And just as essential, the pieces of regular life that need to be missing or scarce from the Getaway Vacation:
For me and my family, our ideal Getaway Vacation here in Europe we’ve found to be in Italy along the Tuscan coast of the Mediterranean.
We fill our days with reading, walking along the beach, gathering shells, chasing lizards, playing flashlight tag and paddleball, and lots and lots of unplanned space.
To me, the Getaway Vacation is the best, a requirement for a balanced year. I can’t wait to go again …
For you: Do you have a favorite place to Getaway from it all? Did I leave any essential ingredients off of the list?