My family just returned from vacation. But as my husband ushered us out of the house a little too early so that we could “salvage” our travel day, it occurred to me that my husband’s directives were neither relaxing nor restful, and that vacation styles often clash.
Commandos have extensive itineraries. Days start early and end late. There is little time for rest. I recall a trip to London with my commando friend several years back where we were allotted ten minutes at Parliament before we headed off for the Tower of London, which we did in fifteen minutes before running, literally, through Hyde Park to catch the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. It is easy to identify the commando traveler, as they bark over at their straggling companions to “keep moving!”
The Executive’s Vacation
The executive resembles the Commando in her authoritative style. However, unlike the Commando’s “go-go!” mentality, the executive’s objective is to be as organized as possible to ensure maximum relaxation. My friend Beth, is the consummate executive. A year before departure, Beth cheerleads, “Who is psyched for vacation?” Three months before, babysitter services and golf outings are booked. A working schedule is submitted for approval and printed in duplicate. One copy is displayed in the vacation house, and one must be carried around for instant consult. Each year the Executive conducts an annual review of the previous year’s trip to discuss what must be purchased to make the livin easier. Last year, it was the Wonder Wheeler, a contraption that allowed us to load all beach gear and make one trip. This year, it was the umbrella anchor which made sure gale force winds wouldn’t send our beach umbrella flying. The executive will be the most relaxed person on the beach if it kills her!
The Weatherman’s Vacation
The weatherman is the person who obsessively checks the weather on vacation. This is my husband. The TV is tuned to the weather channel as he simultaneously consults an on-line weather site to keep abreast of when the first raindrop will fall. Plans are redrawn around the weather report. “The first raindrop will fall at 2:02, so we can get our hike in, and then be seated with a bag of popcorn in the cinema for the 2:30 showing. Oh wait! Now they are saying the rain won’t arrive until 5:00 PM. The movie is going to have to wait.” Often, the Weatherman never leaves his accommodations as he is too busy analyzing conflicting reports.
The Goal Oriented Vacationer
This type of vacationer is easy to please. As long as she accomplishes her goal, she is content. Goals vary from “Just let me finish my book!” to “I haven’t worked out in six months, so I am going to run 20 miles every day.”
The Wife’s Vacation
The wife’s vacation is a farce. It consists of laundry, food preparation, and childcare. It is eerily similar to her life at home. In fact, vacation is worse for the wife because it has the added responsibility of packing and unpacking for her temporary relocation.
I am a little bit wife, and little bit goal oriented. As I finish this vacation, I reflect, like the executive, about how to improve for next year. First, my husband will golf each morning. It is the best aphrodisiac for doing laundry, so I don’t need to be the Vacation Wife. Next, since neither of my goals was reached-I have fifty pages left in my book and I did not get to take that long bike ride-. I will lower my expectations for the next vacation. I will bring a shorter book. “Green Eggs and Ham”; I can finish that! I will get my bike ride! This I decided after my family, led by my husband, told me we had to quit our family ride. We had gone a quarter of a mile. Next year, I will make sure to contact Beth, our executive, about putting my bike ride on the schedule. I am expecting her to call any minute now to let me know vacation is right around the corner- 355 days away.