Vacations for the Indoorsy Type
The great outdoors may just be nature’s way of promoting spa visits and luxury hotel stays
My friend Robyn recently described her weekend getaway of kayaking with a group of friends from the western suburbs. They are members of an organized group who regularly sign up for days of hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, canoeing and everything else you see in the commercials for getaways in Michigan, Colorado and California that involve backpacks, gear and whatever else they sell at REI in Oak Brook.
I go there for the sunglasses.
Robyn explained she was in upper Michigan and it was raining. The water temperature was — well, let’s just say it was below normal tolerance for cold. Everything was fine until her trip companion capsized her kayak and was scrambling in the water to survive. Robyn grabbed her by the life vest and pulled her onto her kayak. Then they all celebrated by having spiked smoothies by the fire back at camp.
Robyn conveyed this horrifying story smiling. It sounds awful. Not the saving-her-friend’s-life part of the narrative, but the freezing water, the rain, the kayak, the tent, the hiking, the camp fire. No thank you. I know many people who love this sort of experience, but I prefer warm beds and beautiful views from balconies. And wine in glasses delivered by waiters.
I will sit through all your gorgeous photos taken from the sides of mountains or the tops of peaks and glaciers, but I will not want to be in those selfies or group photos where you are huddled together for warmth in the dark and the cold after eating from cans.
Maybe it is because I read Lord of The Flies as a kid and watched Deliverance in my formative years. Some nature trips do not end well.
Every July and August I listen to friends and family talk about their dream getaways. And I have come to believe the types of desirable vacations are split into two groups. Some want to be outdoors, visiting national parks and getting away from it all — sleeping outside, protecting themselves from bears, watching the stars.
Others, like me, want to limit the outdoors. They travel to other countries to explore different cultures, visit restaurants and cathedrals, and stay in hotels with warm showers and bathrobes with embroidered crests.
While I love beautiful outdoor views, breathing in the fresh air, and visiting the beach, mountains, forests and canyons, I then want to be able to drive back to a comfortable hotel and use a restroom that is not portable. It is not that I am spoiled or elitist, it’s just that as a woman of the 21st century, I want to salute the progress we have made in the past 100 years and not revert back to the habits of pioneers who lived way before then and had no other choice. And by “before then,” I mean before there were 800-count cotton sheets, lavender-scented down pillows and room service.
This is not about money, either. You can likely spend more on a camping trip than on a week in an urban Airbnb. I once bought shorts at an outlet for outdoor recreation equipment that cost twice what I would spend at a department store. They did have a lot of pockets. And they dried super fast — good to know just in case I might spill a Diet Coke.
I like adventure and I like exercise. I can swim with the fishes, climb hills, roller skate, hike and bike and take in the vistas. But those are side trips that are just a slice of the vacation, not the whole thing. The five-mile hike would be a precursor to the lunch buffet and wine-tasting at the ranch or spa. Right before the hot-stone massage.
I work hard and I like to relax on my vacations. Putting in effort to survive — and possibly meeting my demise in a capsized kayak — does not seem like a getaway to me. My work life is deadline-driven and I am charged with producing tangible content in specific time frames that I can’t fudge or fake. This makes me stressed.
According to new research from Project: Time Off, only 44 percent of working women use their time off, and 74 percent of women say they are stressed at work, while only 67 percent of men say the same.
Americans who work took an average of 16.8 days of vacation in 2016. I must say that somebody is taking way more time off than I am, since I took one week away from work last year. In 2016, 662 million vacation days were left unused, four million days more than 2015. Mine are in there.
I will take a week off this summer and I will enjoy myself. I will not do anything that remotely resembles what my friend Robyn calls fun. I will sleep late, roll over on sweet-smelling ironed sheets and call room service before I hike to the spa downstairs for a mud treatment. And it will be bliss.Edit Module