Vacation looks different to everyone. Relaxation is experienced in different ways. When put together, you get a formula for bliss that’s unique to each person. I think that’s why taking family vacations, or vacations with friends, is so difficult sometimes.
At least, with my family vacations, communication is paramount to keeping people relaxed and feeling like they are, in fact, on vacation and not just trading one stress (home, work, social) for another. But, this doesn’t always happen. Some families counter this by planning their entire trip down to the hour; no surprises, no opportunities for deviation, no reason to change or get upset. Not possible with us. My family…we all have different definitions for what we find relaxing and for what it means to be on vacation.
My dad and I, we like to be active on vacation. That means: getting up early (no sleeping in) and, in my case, running to the beach while my dad bikes in. Then, I enjoy the morning by walking along the shore, when the seagulls aren’t obnoxious (yet) and the people haven’t awakened in their hotel beds. Meanwhile, my mom and my sister sleep in and join me after breakfast. By the time we set up our plot on the warm, soft sand, if Dad’s not there yet, we all apply our sunblock and lay out, reading our respective books.
“It is easier to do nothing by the sea than anywhere else…” ― E.F. Benson
When lunch comes around, unless we all agree on something, we each get something different. This, amongst wanting to do different things, caused tension one day as my mom and my sister chose a café and sandwiches for lunch, I wanted pizza, and my dad wasn’t hungry. Lunch didn’t go as planned that day. But then, now that I think about it, none of our plans for vacation were executed smoothly. There were plenty of tense moments and disappointments: me wanting to go off on my own to enjoy the beach and the ocean while everyone else went shopping; my dad and I running together and, thus, him spending more time with me than my sister; finding vegetarian options at all the places my family (who are meat eaters) wanted to eat; and wanting to insert my own recommendations and thoughts. It all culminated in changes of plans and not spending much time together.
Other people would prefer to avoid all of these tense moments by taking solo vacations. But, this summer, I found myself constantly surrounded by and traveling with my family. Whether it was to a basketball tournament or to the beach, compromises had to be made in restaurant and activity choices. That’s how it goes with families.
Compromise and understanding are key to find a happy medium; a vacation in which everyone can enjoy and one where we can all relax how we want.
So, although I spent part of my family vacation alone – running, walking, reading, swimming in the ocean – that is what vacation and relaxing is to me. And, there’s no better peace I find than lying on the warm sand, toes dipped, sunglasses on, book open, and sun warming my skin.
“I want to run the beach’s length, because it never ends.” ― Deborah Ager
Running in the morning, I got to watch the sun rise, hear the waves among the silence, and walk up and down the north shore as the seagulls squawked and fitness groups completed morning yoga and workout routines. Then, at eight o’clock, when all the shops opened, I explored. I ducked into Browseabout Books to peruse the easy beach reads and the Coffee Mill (a little coffee shop down the brick alleyway between Baltimore and Rehoboth avenues) for my morning cup. After grabbing some breakfast, I met my mother and sister on the beach and read until lunch; after which, my dad and I would take a quick tow-mile run before taking a refreshing dip in the ocean. Then, I would read until it was time to pack up, go back to the hotel to shower, and read by the pool.
I really spoiled myself this vacation, with food and relaxation. But that’s what you do on vacation, even when your relatives don’t want to do the same things. My dad and I like to be active; my mom and my sister prefer to lounge. But, at the end of the day, we all come together for dinner; and that’s very much indicative of how we live our normal lives as a family.
Not every vacation looks the same, but we all need them to take the monotony and routine out of the months we work to earn money. Because we put in the time and work hard, we should take vacations that we enjoy; no ones that add additional stress. The beach is the perfect place for this (in my opinion).
“The beach is not a place to work…or to think.” ― Anne Morrow Lindbergh
And, if you’re at the beach with the family, make sure you’re not letting all the disappointments, tensions, and changes of plans get to you. Instead, let the waves lull you to sleep as the sand and sun warm your soul.