By: Revanche

Singing the no-vacation blues

April 19, 2017

It's been 6 years since our last vacation: how should we break this drought?I’m a recovering workaholic and it’s been 6 years since my last real* vacation.**

*defined as a time where I wasn’t required to log onto work and I didn’t do it more than once out of worry that something had become a steaming pile of waste on fire.

**maternity leave doesn’t count as a vacation in any stretch of the word and I will slap you with a wet fish if you try to argue with me about that. Fair warning.

Despite my recovering workaholic label, this isn’t entirely a situation of my own making. I didn’t mean to go this long without a true break. We haven’t just been sitting at home, dully Kermit-flailing at our keyboards in an endless grind. We’ve logged more travel for fun days in the past few years than I have in my entire career before this! It’s just that I’ve been making it work by doing it all, at the same time: traveling, working, and now, also parenting.

It hasn’t been without its flaws but it has included some amazing food so it’s hard to argue against the logic that if I can have it all, by doing it all, why not?

Because when you’re a recovering workaholic, you shouldn’t be looking for reasons to keep your work strapped to your hip!

Truly, the trouble with knowing that you can’t coast on talent, knowing that you made it to this point in life or work by dint of unbelievable amounts of hard work is that it’s incredibly hard to care about the research that says taking a break and refreshing your brain is good for you AND your work. That was my problem, early in my career. Stepping away meant I was losing ground and will have to work harder to catch up on my return. Like Leo McGarry (The West Wing) who didn’t want to take out the time for his AA meetings, I don’t want to be a half hour dumber than everyone else!

But that’s stupid. For one thing, information acquired as it develops takes far more time than catching up on most situations to get up to speed. It actually only took Leo about three minutes to arrive at the same place everyone else was waiting, for their next update. Surely nothing at my job is so complex or critical as Aaron Sorkin’s fictional White House, The West Wing version! (versus the American President version which is a whole other thing).

For another, your brain is a resource and running it continuously without respite is shoddy brain ownership. Even actual machines need downtime and maintenance.

What’s my point? My point is that even knowing all of the above, it’s been six years since my last vacation.

Money is about to be anywhere from pretty tight to OMGTIGHT, but you know me, I’ve already made contingency plans. I have a stockpile of points / miles and I will plan a real vacation.

But my laptop may still come with me because my addiction to being connected is not on the table for discussion at this time. One problem per post, please.

Assuming a small budget and travel companion who varies from being an utter delight to a tiny terrorist, and a preference for being with Seamus rather than boarding him, I think we may be talking road trip!

Colorado? Canada? Washington?

:: Where would you head after a long vacation drought? When and what was your last vacation? 

34 Responses to “Singing the no-vacation blues”

  1. We do plenty of vacations now (although I take my laptop along and work at least a little on the blog.) And my last job was great about the fact that when you were off, you were off and no one bothered you. Before that, though, my job gave us smartphones and expected us to be available anytime.

    The only way to get away from the emails and calls was to take a cruise. Internet on cruises (at least 7-8 years ago when we used to take them) was expensive and slow, so no one expected us to log in. It was a great email detox. Good food, plenty of activities, and a nightly show. And some lines have free babysitting.
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    • Revanche says:

      Well that’s a good incentive to try a cruise! I’m still waffling on whether a cruise makes sense with a small child, but it sounds like it could be fun.

  2. With those parameters, I’d probably pick Washington or Colorado. Our trips have been closer to home–a few nights to a week in a city a couple of hours away–since Baguette was born. One of these days we’ll try a greater distance, but first we need to pare down the number of things we need to bring for her. We’re not there yet.
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    • Revanche says:

      We’ve done Washington, a little bit, but Colorado not at all. Seems like it could be fun.

      Your time will come! We’ve tried longer distances by plane and it’s ok but it feels like it’ll be easier once the Kid-Stuff drops off.

  3. Joe says:

    alcoholic ? I don’t see it. 🙂
    Mrs. RB40 is a workaholic too. She just get so committed to a project. She doesn’t understand that you don’t have to give 100% all the time. A lot of people just slide by at work. Well, I guess it’s good for the world.

    • Revanche says:

      Whoops, you’re right! Thanks to autocorrect putting that in there.
      It’s hard to wean yourself away from feeling like you have to put in all of yourself for all projects.

  4. Jax says:

    Our vacations are to visit family. So while it’s nice to be off from work…it’s still “work.” I am not complaining too much! I love our family but we just don’t get enough time off to do both the obligatory visits and the fun destination travel.

    I would love to visit some national parks and do some hiking/outdoors-ing/seeing different scenery.

    • Revanche says:

      Oh yes, trips that are about visiting family are definitely still work, so this vacation is a REAL one. Oh and national parks are free to visit this weekend, I think, if you can find one near to you.


    OMG. 🙂 Road trip here. Toronto is nice too. But Montreal.. well.. FRENCH CANADA. You can’t find anything like that anywhere else in North America. 😛
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    • Revanche says:

      Is that a song I don’t know? 🙂

      I just looked at the map, though, OMG Montreal is on the east coast! I’m not sure we’d survive a drive across Canada 😀

  6. Next Monday’s post is about DH and the kids taking the first real vacation ever later this summer. Though we have had time off, but we always visit family in nowheresville during that time. And we have been new places, but always for work (though sometimes a spouse and the kids will tag along) or a wedding.
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  7. Linda says:

    I can see the attraction of a road trip. I’ve had some really fun ones with friends as an adult, and as a kid we used to do a major road trip every summer. Will this be a summer trip? I have a suggestion for a fun place to visit, but I think during the height of summer it may not be the best to go: New Mexico! Especially for a “geeky” family, there are some cool things to do. At White Sands you can sled down the sand hills! Carlsbad Caverns has cool caves and bats! There are pueblos to visit and learn about Native American culture, and there is a science museum in Los Alamos, too.

    I guess my last vacation would have been a trip to Portland to visit with friends over the New Year’s holiday. But that didn’t really feel like a real vacation to me. The last thing that felt like a “real” vacation was a trip to Scotland in October 2013. I knew I’d be giving up my annual fun travel when I moved to the Bay Area, though. Maybe I’ll be able to take an international trip in a couple years.
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    • Revanche says:

      I have absolutely no idea on timing at this point. Honestly it’ll likely have to happen in 2018, unfortunate as that sounds, but I’m not willing to go on vacation until my home life is settled and secure.

      That said, it’s a good thing because the calendar is pretty open!

      Those are great ideas, that could go on the list for a spring or fall type trip if the drive isn’t too bad.

      If it’s worth your time, maybe you can log miles to pay for most of your next international trip so you’re not out of pocket?

  8. Abigail says:

    “Kermit-flailing” is my new favorite phrase. If I could work while away, I’d probably be in the same situation you’re in. I’d go on more vacations, but I wouldn’t get as much of a break. (I can’t work from a hotel or whatever because I need a secure connection or I might be opening up customers’ accounts to hacking.)

    I don’t get paid vacation so the 5 days of work I’m about to miss… They’re going to hurt. But it’ll be good to get away from work.

    It depends where you want to go in Washington. You know I’m biased about Seattle, and I know your cards will make the hotel much more affordable. In which case it’s a pretty affordable place to go. But you go there for ECC, so you maybe have taken in enough sights that it’s just not worth it.

    The brief times I visited Portland it was pretty cool. And no sales tax! Canada is quite a schlep by car, but Vancouver was nice. I didn’t see a ton of it, but it was lovely.

    Of course, if you can drive to Seattle, you could always drive to Phoenix. I’m (mostly) kidding, because I know the summer heat isn’t good for your constitution. But if you ever did come — say, during the cooler months — I’d be happy to go to the library and borrow the free passes to various attractions: botanical gardens, science center, museums and, uh, other stuff. But for now, focus on cooler climates for sure.
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    • Revanche says:

      Washington – I only know a very little bit about Seattle, but it does feel like our Washington time should be centered around ECCC. It’s hard to justify going to the same place twice in a year.

      Oregon’s pretty great! No sales tax always seems appealing but it also means you have to spend money in the first place.

      Cooler is definitely necessary for now, I can’t do any more flare ups!

  9. SP says:

    I love road trips that can include the pets!

    I had an Oregon road trip in mind with lots of stops in national parks and such, but we decided to do something else this year. I love Colorado and a vacation there would be great – but it is a bit beyond what I consider “drivable”, especially if you go all the way to Denver area. Then again, if you have more time – i think you do – you can go further! I’d love to go to vancouver area. Can pets drive across the border without issue?

    All of our family “vacations” as a kid were road trips, although mostly to visit family and mostly close by camping we did do a few bigger road trips. It should be a lot of fun!

    Unfortunately / fortunately, WiFi is pretty pervasive these days even if you stop in national park areas – so you’ll have to be disciplined to unplug!

    • Revanche says:

      Depending on the timing, if we’re patient, we might be coming into a nice chunk of time off. I actually have no idea if the pups can cross borders, though. Doggy passport, anyone?

      I’m ok with having WiFi everywhere, I don’t mind having access to Twitter, my personal email, and the blog 🙂 Since I don’t get paid for these things, I suppose they’re not strictly work. Buuuut I guess truly unplugging would be the point of vacation.

  10. SherryH says:

    I think the last time MrH had any significant time away from work was in 2006, and that wasn’t a vacation; it was a flying trip to Michigan for my dad’s funeral. We’ve had a few weekends away, but I don’t think that really counts, either. He’s in desperate need of a break, we just haven’t figured out how to make it work.

    In 2014 I spent a week at a camp (more like a retreat) in western North Carolina for blind and visually impaired adults, so I guess that might count for me. I’d like to go back again some year.

    MrH will get a bit of a vacation this July when, thanks to some generous sponsors, he goes to Kilt Kamp in upstate New York. Technically, he’ll be working on developing his side business, but it’s something he loves and it’ll be a week and a half away from his day job. I’m so excited for him to get to go!

    My folks used to take a lot of road trips, and my sister and I saw a lot of places from the back of our VW bus. Good times. 🙂 If we went on vacation now, I’d like to go either to Michigan to visit extended family I haven’t seen in a decade, or to western NC, where part of his family is from.

    If money were no object, I’d love to revisit Germany, where I spent several years in my childhood, and visit Ireland. MrH would probably choose Scotland and England, particularly the Victoria and Albert museum.

    • Revanche says:

      Oh dear, that’s definitely not a vacation, but Kilt Kamp sounds like a hoot! I hope he thoroughly enjoys that getaway.

      How long is the drive to Michigan / NC from where you are?

      Germany, Ireland, Scotland and England are all on our list, too, as well as Thailand, Japan, and a few others. Canada of course but I’d like to think we could swing that some time sooner than the other destinations.

      • SherryH says:

        Kilt Kamp is run by a couple of professional kiltmakers. The premise is that “kampers” will begin Sunday morning with their fabric, and end with a completed kilt by Friday evening. I think he’ll also get a lot, personally and professionally, out of networking with like-minded folks.

        We live on the coast of NC. The mountain end of the state is 7-9 hours away, I think, maybe a little more. Michigan’s roughly 1000 miles, maybe a little more, so we count on a two-day drive.

  11. Cassie says:

    I vote you come to Canada! With the exchange rate your money will go further than it usually does 🙂
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  12. Middle class revolution says:

    i finally went on a real vacation after 7 years! basically, i have only taken one weekend trip locally since my having kids. it was international and without kids. had the best time!!!!

    • Revanche says:

      Good to see you! I was thinking of you last week, so glad to hear you did go on an international vacation. That sounds fabulous.

      • Middle class revolution says:

        i still read your blog and a few others. just no longer can make the time to blog or comment! new job is very demanding. hope you get a real vacation soon.

  13. Leah says:

    Oregon is fabulous and I vote for that. I’ve heard great things about the High Desert museum in Bend. The Oregon coast is way nicer than the Washington coast. Good aquariums in Newport (both a big private one and the Hatfield Marine Science Center, which is small but free last time I went). Tillamook for cheese. Portland is a cool city. You can get such a variety in Oregon!

    In PDX, my top things:
    – Salt & Straw ice cream
    – Blue Star Donuts
    – Washington Park & the Rose Garden (FYI, an AWESOME playground right next to the Rose Garden)
    – Washington Park Zoo
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    • Revanche says:

      Thank you for the specific recommendations, they sound great! Especially the ice cream. I don’t eat enough ice cream.

  14. Cloud says:

    Well, you know I love to travel… so I’ve been to all three places you mention as possibilities (although my Canadian travel experience is limited to Vancouver and Victoria). All are awesome! We did Seattle with Pumpkin when she was under 2, and we did a Colorado road trip a few years ago. Vancouver/Victoria was pre-kids.

    Our trip this year is going to be a road trip. We’re planning to hit a bunch of National Parks in AZ, UT, and then back here in CA. There’s more driving in this road trip than I usually plan, but I think my kids are old enough to enjoy that kind of trip now. When our kids were younger, we tried to keep car time to ~2 hours/day, except for one or two longer days.

    So, since you asked for advice, mine is: if you’re planning on driving, plan it around not spending a lot of time driving in any one day. And try to stay more than one night in at least one place per week of travel. That way, the trip is actually fun and relaxing, and not a slog through long drives with a whiny kid in the backseat! (My kids are great travelers, but even they start whining at about hour 4 in the backseat….) There are so many wonderful places to go, so pick your destination based on which one sounds like it will make a fun trip for you and your family right now.
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    • Revanche says:

      Thanks for the input – I think if we stay 2-3 nights in one place, at least, then we should be in better shape than trying to make lots of distance in a short period of time.

      JuggerBaby can cope for 2-4 hours, depending on the time of day and the food situation, which is actually less flexible than when ze was an infant but we can work with that.

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