Timing. Let’s face it, if you’re a working stiff and have responsibility, it’s all about timing. Where “they” would like you to believe you can jet off at any moment and spend time wandering some South Asian tropical beach, it just not really true. The “they” in that last sentence would be the Television and the Internet. The reality of things are somewhat greyer.
Adult professionals these days have structured lives. They work long hours and have high stress loads. They work all year for a valuable two weeks of vacation time each year. If our lucky, you’ll get four weeks of vacation. Sadly, that four years has to be broken up between a couple things. Maybe out of the glorious four weeks you can carve out one and a half weeks for yourself. Maybe?
Anyway, that being said, you have to decide how and when to spend your time. The travel advertisers out there want you badly to believe that you want a destination. You should pick a destination and go. I have picked many destinations over the years, some I’ve actually managed to get to. Some – are still on the list. Like I said, I stray.
The vast majority of mid-life working stiffs tend to do something that is much more typical. They look at how much time they can afford to take off, and then find a vacation destination/activity that fits their allotted time. When you actually get your coveted time off, hopefully you have enough time to do what you want to do, and sometimes you dump your ideas and do what you have time for. I have done this many times. Once again, I tend to stray from the path.
Having limited time to travel, things fall into categories of availability. In my opinion there are three different types, or durations of travel. The weekender, the two-week vacation, and trips longer than a month. They all have benefits and drawbacks, depending upon how you like to do things.
The weekender. One of my favorites is the weekender. You can see a lot of territory in a weekend, and not chew up coveted vacation time. I’m pretty sure that I started my traveling experiences with the weekender. When stationed overseas in the military, it’s unlikely to get more than seventy two hours off without taking leave. When those seventy two hours comes you jump a train and head it. Hopefully, you make it back to post before Monday formation. (Sometimes we did, sometimes we didn’t.)
Now days, the weekender means checking out some new city or hitting the Vegas Strip for the weekend. You can be on a plane Friday night, and be back by Sunday night. If you want to push it, take the red eye in for Monday morning and hit work with no shower. (I have done this numerous time in my life.)
For reference, I have numerous places in the United States over a weekend. Places like Yosemite, Las Vegas, Chicago, Orlando, Key West, Monument Valley, Charleston, and Austin Texas in a weekend. I had a great time in all of them. You can also do international travel in a weekend as well, though you really need the red eye return flight. I did Bruges, Belgium, in a weekend. It was a great Idea. I also did Rome, Italy, in a weekend. I was not a great idea. You live and learn. At least I didn’t burn any vacation time.
Next on the list is the two week vacation. This is what I would consider to be the “standard package” travel option for hard working people. You have four weeks, of which you can carve out two weeks of actual travel time, and you want to pick a great vacation idea/package.
If you don’t believe that this is the standard timing idea in travel just take a good hard look at the internet. The vast majority of vacation packages are bundled into two loose groups of times. The seven to ten day package and the twenty one to twenty eight day package, with the hands-down winner being the seven to ten day option. European vacations, Caribbean cruises, South American adventures, they all come in seven to eleven day versions. You can actually leave the US and travel across Russia in eleven day with the right vacation planner. You can also just, buy a plane ticket and bomb around Europe or South East Asia for ten day, and then come back.
For the record, the buy-a-ticket-and-go plan is my preferred option. I do it as a rule. I like the freedom that the lack of an itinerary brings.
The Next option is the extended trip. Extended trips usually fall into the category of durations that are more than a month in length. These types of trips require a little more planning. They also require that numerous tactical decisions be made beforehand. Do you take a leave of absence from work? Do you keep your house or apartment while you’re gone? How do you handle paying bills on the road? What about insurance coverage when out of country? These questions and numerous others will be the topics of upcoming blog posts. Frankly, I’m also attempting to figure these out for myself.
The extended travel option has benefits. There are trips and places that just can’t be given justice in 21 days for packaged travel. Traipsing through the jungles of the South America or chasing surf waves around the South Pacific, maybe trekking around the Dark Continent of Africa, all of these really require more time than your standard vacation window allows. Trips that you put off until you can’t put them off anymore. Trips that need to be done. (For any number of reasons.)
Duration is always an issue. Lack of More Time is one of the big emotional issues that need to be faced down before planning a trip somewhere. There are no real answers for the issue of Duration. You take weekenders when you can. You take the two-weeker because you have to, most times. And, when you finally have to do it, you go All-In and do the big trip.
The assumption of the remainder of this blog will be based around the idea of the extended trip. Someone in mid-life that wants to go out on an adventure. An Adventure, not a Vacation. It’s the way we’re gonna role it.
Now go. Get out there.
Riding motorcycles around the four-corner’s area of the South-Western United States with two of my crazier friends, Billy and Curtis. Summer of 2010. A little short on sleep. A little long on beers. Started in Las Vegas and Ended in Las Vegas. It was a weekender.