We all want them and in fact, we all need them. We need time away from the routine and the worry; the “every moment scheduled” and the burdens of the job. Some vacations are relaxing, some provide adventure. Sometimes we are lucky enough to have a week away from all that life throws at us, and sometimes we’re just glad to have a long weekend.
I like to ask the women that I see in my office what they do during their vacation time off (I also like to ask them when they last got a babysitter and went on a date with their loved one, but that’s for another blog post). I consider this question a critical part of the overall assessment of my patients health and well being. I could site (but I won’t) the evidence that proves that those who take some sort of vacation have higher energy, are more relaxed and feel less burdened. I tell my patients that they can not be expected to perform well as woman, wife, mother, employee, volunteer, daughter, sister (you get the picture) without time for self – but THATs a whole ‘nother blog post, too. Today a patient told me that she and her husband rented a mustang convertible and drove the California coast! How cool is that???
Many people tell me that they do the same thing each summer, such as spending a week at the beach or a long weekend in the mountains. Others tell me that they love their “staycations”, an opportunity to save the money that might be spent on an expensive vacation. A true staycation, according to Tightwad Tod with Consumer Reports, does not combine play and work, but I find that many people that I talk to do just that. http://news.consumerreports.org/money/2009/05/tips-for-the-best-staycation-ever.html.
My friends Ruth and Ralph have mastered the local vacation, what they also call the Economic Stimulus Vacation. They like to boost the economy of some local Virginia towns by visiting shops and restaurants. They rent cabins in state parks or put up a tent along the Crooked Road http://thecrookedroad.org/. What a great way to learn more about the region where you live, to spend your dollars locally and to save money, too.
Over the years, I have tried a variety of types of vacations, from a full week at the beach with the entire family to 3 long weekends over the summer months, each one featuring a different activity in a different place. I’ve also taken the classic “football lovers winter vacation” (aka a Bowl Game). Ruth and I take an annual “Road Trip to a Hokie Game”. We both love watching VT Football and we also love to explore new places. We’ve cheered on the Hokies and enjoyed the local flavors of Atlanta, DC, Morgantown and Huntington. This year, it’s on to Chapel Hill!
Of course nothing will compare to the time that Andrew and I took an 8 week road trip across the country. I had just finished a four year period of working full time night shift in the ER while attending part time grad school and we’d had no vacation for four years! Back then (1995), the Commonwealth of Virginia allowed employees to “carry over” vacation hours and because of the length of time I’d gone without taking time off, I had 8 weeks vacation time saved up. Throughout that entire trip of camping, hiking and exploring this great country with my then 10 year old son, a check was deposited into my account.
1995 – Leaving Richmond, Virginia Rafting the Flathead, near Glacier N.P.
North Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon N.P. Mesa Verde N.P. Colorado
The end of the road in Capital Reef N.P. Utah
I don’t recommend going 4 years without taking time off, but the resulting vacation for Andrew and for me was a blast! (Go ahead … laugh at the “Mom Shorts” and the frost colored lipstick – just remember, it was 1995!).
Other truly memorable vacations have been when the entire family has traveled to the beach together, once to celebrate my parent’s 50th Anniversary, and more recently, to celebrate the fact that we all just have a really good time together!
2008 – 50th Anniversary Champagne Toast The Buchwald Family
2011 – Left Right Center Paddleboarding
I’ve also been lucky to have the annual GOA (Girls of August) Gathering in August. This vacation is easy – the date and the people never change (the first weekend in August with Jan, Janet, Becky and Andrea) and the goal is to do nothing more than eat, drink, talk, laugh and play in the water. We’ve even incorporated a nap into the weekend, with Becky of course, teaching us how it’s done!
The Birthday Gals have met for weekends in Boone NC, Giles County VA, and also in Hungry Mother State Park. These short getaways also offer lots of time for good conversation and laughter, delicious food and drink, hiking and sometimes, even a little dancing!
And then there are the weekend bike trips with friends. This year’s had a twist: my good friend Tim in the convertible and me on the bike – exploring new roads and a new camera.
Several years ago, a dear friend of mine, David Dehart, told me that in order to really vacate, to really let down, let go and relax, you had to take 2 full weeks away from work. He said that by day 5 of the one week vacation, just when you are starting to relax, you realize you have to return to work in two days.
I know that not all are able to take 2 weeks off of work in a row, but for the past 3 years, I have been lucky enough to do just that. It is a huge emotional and physical benefit to me (and therefore of benefit to my patients) and in a way, it’s a small tribute to David. I think of him as I ride along and remember the good friend and great person he was.
After all these years of work and play, I think I have perfected how to take a vacation. The 10 days away from work this year were a wonderful mix of time with friends and time alone. My recipe for the perfect vacation included the following ingredients:
* 4 days playing in the Pamlico River of North Carolina with the GOAs, followed by
* 6 days of riding throughout Tennessee, exploring new places and meeting new people.
* I had a 1 day reunion with old friends, 1 day of play on the lake with Amy, and 1 day at a concert in Bristol with Radford friends. This was followed by
* 1 day at home to do chores, unpack and get organized, and finally
* 1 day back in the office to get caught up on paperwork, charts, labs and phone calls. It was the perfect transition back to work and seeing a full schedule of patients.
I am not quite sure when I have felt so rested and restored! You may read this and think that this type of vacation is the last kind you would want to take. Whatever your idea of perfect is, just be sure to do it! We all need that time away, whether it’s in your own back yard or miles from home.
Just remember that I’ll be asking you what you did!