By: Sarah Stone
A few years ago, I visited Puerto Rico and did practically nothing the entire time. I didn’t tour the fort at San Juan, go zip lining, ride horses, or explore the city center. I stayed in a hotel on the beach, and when I wasn’t sleeping, writing a blog post, or eating at the bar down the street, I was lounging on the sand. I read occasionally, but other than that, I zoned out and watched the ocean.
The year before that, I visited Rome with my parents. Every day, we had a set schedule; my dad loves building the itinerary almost as much as the trip itself. From 8:00am to 11:00pm every day, we scurried around the city eating at guidebook restaurants, visiting ruins and must-see spots, and meeting with friends and family who then guided us around parts of the city they knew and thought we would love.
Both vacations were awesome.
But Did I Avoid Vacation Guilt?
Working in travel, I constantly read others’ articles, books, and essays, finding inspiration everywhere and hoping to see as much of the world as I can. For the most part it’s to find adventure, meet incredible people, and learn all about the world and, as a personal goal, the awesome groups and individuals actively making it a better place.
But with each story I read, I feel a little bit of a pull to keep up, to stay relevant and interesting in a sea of travelers who can’t wait to write about their awesome experiences around the world. I have a bit more vacation guilt with every trip I don’t plan in detail.
Half of my trips in the past five years have been volunteer projects, which is awesome, but Frayed Passport isn’t a volunteer abroad website. I already made and sold one of those. The other half have been throwaway vacations.
When I say throwaway vacation, I don’t mean it was a waste of my time. But it would be a waste of yours to read about it. I spent six days in Puerto Rico a few years ago and summed it up in the first paragraph of this article. I spent five days in Rome, and you can just read a guidebook to get an idea of what I did (or you can read the article my mum wrote, encouraging you to spend Christmas in Italy).
What is one to do when she takes an island trip and does absolutely nothing the whole time? These throwaway vacations were incredible for me—I went to Puerto Rico at a low point, when my boyfriend and I were about to break up and I’d just cancelled a trip to Peru to plan a conference at work that was…cancelled anyway. Sitting on the beach and doing nothing, or sitting in my hotel room and writing late at night with the window open was exactly what I needed right then. It’s not an adventure story, and I wouldn’t classify it as luxury travel either.
For my “throwaway vacation” articles, you won’t find lists of awesome restaurants, tours, or even a review of the hotel or hostel I stayed in. But you will find a few stories from the perspective of why rather than what, which I hope will still be just as good in the end. And yes, I will continue to have just a little bit of vacation guilt around them, but maybe you won’t feel so bad either if you sleep in one day or you miss the Van Gogh Museum or the Changing of the Guards or whatever other must-see thing you’ve planned. Happy travels!