Tag Archives: summer vacation

Who deserves a vacation?

Of all the titles I thought I’d have throughout my life, Illicit Vacationer was never one of them. And yet, here I am, with my Instagram feed defiantly full of photos of me and my family cavorting on a beach in Maine.

In my defense, I didn’t read Michelle Singletary’s piece in the Washington Post titled “If you’re in debt, you don’t deserve a summer vacation” until after I got back. So, you can imagine my surprise that I somehow managed to get away with sneaking off to the shore without my student loans grabbing me by the ear and hauling me back home while they lectured to me about financial irresponsibility.

If you haven’t read the article, it’s all right there in the headline. But it’s the “deserve” that got me the most. Interesting word choice, considering that the vast majority of Americans are in debt. Luckily, she clarifies what she means by “debt” with the definitely not condescending sentence “I’m sorry to tell you that you don’t deserve a summer vacation if you’re a hot financial mess.”

Ah. Thanks, Michelle. Hot financial mess. Got it. So…everyone then?

But perhaps my favorite bit was when she goes on to say you don’t deserve a vacation even if you saved up for it. Because we should all be using that money to pay down our debt. Because, honestly, how long is it going to take you to become completely debt-free? What, 30, 40, years? You can vacation in your 80’s.

In HER defense, though, she does graciously offer a solution to us mere commoners, us plebs who frivolously spent our stagnant wages on unaffordable higher education, child care, housing, working vehicles and medical procedures. That solution being, of course, the luxurious and also definitely not condescending concept of the “staycation.” Because everyone knows how relaxing it is to hang out in your filthy house that you hang out in every other day of your life. But, as she so kindly reminds us, don’t spend your valuable time off cleaning and attacking that mile-long to-do list. You’re on vacation, afterall. Act like it. Just step around the piles of laundry and dog vomit.

But enough of Michelle’s Very Helpful Tips for the Working Poor. Let me tell you who I think “deserves” a vacation.

Everyone.

Everyone deserves a vacation. Full stop. Everyone is stressed out. Everyone is busy to the point of exhaustion. Everyone is struggling, in some way or another.

I’m sure even rich people get stressed out from time to time. I don’t know, maybe their third Porsche didn’t start today and now they have to have their butler take it to the mechanic and it’s become like a whole thing. I get it, man. It’s rough.

Which is why we all deserve a break.

Do you know what’s so amazing about vacations? It’s somewhere away. Away from home. Away from your problems. Away from the world’s problems. Just for a bit. Just long enough to breathe and take in a lungful of life.

Because by being away, you get perspective. Say, perspective about how you were not put on this Earth merely to work hard and pay your bills.

And you don’t need a big fancy vacation for this perspective. All travel changes you for the better. We only went an hour and half away. In the off-season. For only five days. Because that’s what we could afford. Most of the time it was 55 degrees and rainy.

But it was heaven. Because it was away. Because it was the four of us, laughing and exploring and eating absolutely nothing of nutritional value and remembering that in the grand scheme of things, all the rest of it is just the small stuff. Life is big and should be treated as such.

Because do you know who deserves a vacation the most, in my opinion? My children. They deserve to run around on beach when they’re young enough to scream in delight and slight terror every time a wave touches their foot. They deserve carefree days full of sandy kisses and sticky hugs that leave their lollipops hopelessly tangled in their mother’s hair. They deserve the pure joy that can only come from hopping in the car and setting off for destinations unknown with happy parents.

Debt will always be there. Even if I finally do pay off all my current debt, my car is 14-years-old. We’ll need a new one soon. At some point, someone will break a leg, or get really sick, or need surgery. Eventually, we’d like to own a house instead of renting. Someday my kids will likely go to college. There will always be more debt.

But you know what there won’t always be more of? Time. This time, right now. Where my kids are young and my husband and I are less young but still young enough to chase them through the streets of a charming seaside town with delight.

I can guarantee you that when all of us are on our deathbeds, we won’t be thinking “man, I’m so happy I got all that debt paid off, what a life well-lived.” We’ll be thinking instead about how we sat and watched the waves on a freezing beach that one day in May. And then we came back to our little oceanfront cottage and made s’mores by the fire, with a peace settling upon us that was interrupted only by spontaneous hugs that left fragments of sticky marshmallow hopelessly tangled in my hair.

So, take that vacation, my friends.

You can’t afford not to.

 

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Bikini Overkill

It’s almost summer, people. And I think we all know what that means.

Sneaking out the back window every time you leave the house in order to avoid your neighbors, who are none-too-happy with the knee-high grass that you’re too lazy to mow.

But summer also means family vacation time. And just like millions of other Americans, yours truly is planning on braving overzealous TSA feeler-uppers, overcrowded airplanes where they ration our Diet Coke like you’ve landed in the middle of the desert and it’s the last drop of water in the canteen, and lost luggage you’ll get back sometime in 2014 for a week of “relaxation.”

Yes, I am heading to the gorgeous country of Panama with my family this June.

Now, for about half of the population, going on a tropical vacation brings up feelings of excitement and anticipation and elaborate fantasies of drinking beer at any and all hours of the day with absolutely no judgment.

The other half is women.

See, for women, summer vacation means hot weather and water. Hot weather and water means swimsuits and various other skimpy outfits will be required. And swimsuits and skimpy outfits means people will actually see the neglected, pale and jiggly body you’ve been pretending didn’t exist since October.

And this realization causes us women no shortage of panic attacks and lucid dreams where children run screaming from the beach at the mere sight of our gelatinous form rising out of the ocean.

Luckily, however, I have come up with a great solution to this never-ending yearly cycle of body shame. Since summer sneaks up on us every year and we as a population are world-class procrastinators, I propose that there needs to be an extra month inbetween May and June that women can use to drop those extra five (and/or 30) pounds before summer officially starts.

Sure, it sounds crazy. But just think about it. There is never enough time to lose weight before summer. We may start to think about it in March, but hey, we’re busy and all that leftover Valentine’s Day candy isn’t going to eat itself. By April, we know we really should start exercising and eating healthier, but hey, all that leftover Easter candy isn’t going to eat itself. And by May, well, the first half of the month we can’t even remember thanks to Cinco de Mayo and suddenly BOOM.

It’s summer.

So, this new month will be called Desperatember and these new 31 days will be dedicated solely to getting us back in shape. There will be no holidays during this new month, since holidays almost always lead to eating your own weight in ham. Work will be kept to a minimum, since stress leads to inhaling a Snickers bar through your tears while hiding in a bathroom stall. And all fitness centers will be free for anyone who doesn’t look like they belong in a fitness center commercial.

Now, you may be thinking “But Aprill, if we have an extra month, won’t that just mess up the calendar? And wouldn’t Desperatember still just essentially be June?”

To that, I say “Well, aren’t you just a Mr. Clever Pants” in an extremely snarky voice. Followed by “Shut up. I hate you.”

Because if we can make Pluto a planet and then cruelly rip that distinction back away from it, if we can claim a tomato is a fruit when it so obviously belongs in the “tastes icky by itself” vegetable category, and if we collectively have resisted the urge to assassinate Kim Kardashian thus far, then we as a society can create a new month.

So let’s make this happen, people. Because with the help of Desperatember, women will no longer have to hang out on the beach clinging to their towel, oversized 80’s T-shirt or old Halloween ghost costume like it’s the last lifeboat on the Titanic.

And maybe even…GASP…start to enjoy ourselves on vacation.