You Need A Vacation Like Nobody's Business! (Part II)
More on vacations from someone who really can't afford one - though he'll never admit it.
If you are married, and haven't been away with your spouse since before the kids were born, what this says about your marriage, I don't want to say in public. Please - look away from this fascinating article for a moment, go into the other room, tap your partner on the shoulder and order him or her to book some airline tickets pronto!
At this point, I must pause with a big "however…" If it is your spouse or significant other that causes you the most aggravation, my advice is, go away alone or with a close friend - one who doesn't drive you mad. Again, you cannot get back in touch with yourself when you are at your wit's end - and if it is your significant other that does this to you, you should probably go it alone. More likely, though, if you and your significant other have been at each other's throats for years, but you feel that getting away together will bring back the love you used to share, by all means, invite the person along - it's a tough call, so I'll leave this one up to you.
One thing to remember is, once you are on your trip, it may take some time for both of you to calm down and begin to enjoy each other again. Vacations are not static - they evolve - and it is important to give things a chance to take shape. That is why a quick three-day get away will not do the trick. Two weeks or more is usually ideal.
Where to go
The most crucial requirement for a trip out of town, besides whom to take, is choosing the right destination. My advice is, go where there is the least amount of stress. If you live in a big, crowded city, and the city stresses you out, please don't go to another big, crowded city that will no doubt stress you out all over again, but in a different language.
All the same, if you choose a rural area in a foreign country where, as soon as they spot a tourist, every poor child in a three-block radius comes running over to you with their hand out, and this is something you want to avoid, I might hesitate going there as well. You just don't need this kind of pressure! Choose a destination where you will feel relatively safe and comfortable.
Several years ago, my wife and I chose Costa Rica, a beautiful Central American country with a stable middle class and a commitment to eco-tourism. We had a wonderful, relaxing time with no hassles and that is just what we both really needed.
By the way, I strongly advocate going to a foreign country because, well, it can be a bit more exotic and romantic - but again, make sure your destination is full of friendly, easy-going people. At this point in time, I would avoid Iraq or Afghanistan. Also, if you find it safer or more comfortable or more affordable to stay in your own country, please do. Whatever turns you on and improves your state of mind, I'm all for it.
A Few More Points
I would recommend that you refrain from moving around a lot on this badly needed vacation you are going to take. A better alternative is to stay in one location and take short trips every day from that location. The idea, as far as I'm concerned, is to become familiar with one place that you can make your home for a while, rather than having the stress of packing and loading every few days.
Also, and this is important, if your significant other is the energetic, "we must keep moving" type, try to reign him or her in a bit and get the person to chill. You need a vacation, too! Likewise, if you are a lazy Joe or Susan and spend most of your life sitting on your ass, you might consider getting off it for at least part of the day and do some sightseeing - it'll definitely do you some good and you might actually enjoy it. I find it nice to get into a routine - do some sightseeing in the early morning when it's not so hot, go out for lunch, then return in the afternoon and relax, etc. Routines can be very comforting and that is what vacations are for - comfort.
Just recently, my wife and I made a wonderful trip to the south of France. It had been a long time since we had been able to travel together, just the two of us, as we had devoted practically every free moment to the kids.
We rented a cottage outside of Avignon. The place we stayed at was simply lovely, surrounded by lilac bushes, carefully coiffed lawns, and tall cypress trees. We took daily trips to other little towns around the area - munching on incredible breads and croissants every morning, hiking, tasting wine at the vineyards, going to interesting restaurants - we even caught a glimpse of the Tour de France.
I turned out to be a darned good navigator, and felt confident as I guided us down the winding, intertwining roads and traffic circles, of which there are far too many in France. My wife was usually at the wheel, a much more capable driver than I am.
We were able to enjoy each other's company again - without the background noise of two quarreling kids. I remembered again why I married her, and could see so much more clearly what a wonderful, beautiful person she really is.
I don't know if it was a coincidence or not, but when I got back, my business started showing signs of growth, and life seemed so much rosier as I could think back on the wonderful memories we had created together in that marvelous place. Certainly, going away on that trip wasn't entirely to blame for my improved attitude, but it sure played a part.
In summary, definitely think about taking a break if you can afford it - you will be surprised at the difference it can make in your whole outlook. Afterwards, you can then set your mind on finding that new job! Bon voyage.