It ’tis the season…of cramming everything into the limited vacation time we all get during the holiday season. Rather than take on holiday work or try to smash all the quality time into the same moment, focus on going into a true “vacation mode”. It’s actually a lot harder than it sounds, but it’s worth it. As proof, here is a story from a impromptu winter trip that gave me a lesson in the necessity of “vacation mode”.
There is something about the internet that can make adventures seem like work…and not always the fun kind of work [does “fun work” exist?]. Every once in a while the need to adventure + share the stories of your adventures makes the adventure itself seem tasking. Sometimes it even starts to feel forced, posed or contrived. This isn’t fun for anyone — yes, even your readers + followers can tell when you adventure fun has become a more daunting version of adventure work and we all know you can feel the struggle when you’re trying to string together a story around a few random photos. #realtalk
Or, maybe, this is just me. Maybe I’m the only one plagued with these random feelings of pressure to perform for the Instagram. But…I doubt that. I think there are others out there who know what I’m talking about, even if it’s just a little inkling in the back of their mind from time to time.
Ultimately, the question isn’t if you feel these random bouts of perceived pressure…the question is “what do you do to avoid + survive adventure when it loses its fun?”. Looking back at my last week of adventuring I think I’ve finally found an answer.
It’s a thing, I think. I mean, millions of people go on vacation every year, it has to be a thing. However, I’ve never really done “vacation mode” before. Sure, I put my “vacation time” to good use but that has always been valuable time away from work that I do not want to waste on just sitting around — there are things to do, mountains to climb and critters to stare at. In the past I’ve never had time for vacation mode, I’ve always been in adventure mode.
That changed last week. After I convinced my primary job to give me a week off work [not the easiest feat when you’re a seasonal employee to begin with] I started searching for cheap flights to…anywhere. I happen to be friends with Jeremy, a rather enabling friend living in Mexico, and a few clicks later I had booked myself a flight to Monterrey, Mexico. It was surprisingly cheaper than flights to any remotely interesting cities in the States + I knew at least one person in Monterrey who’d happily indulge my need to ignore real life.
Now, in full disclosure, this entire trip started out as another adventure full of grandeur plans but somewhere along the way we both ran out of the time or energy required to plan a full blown adventure. I arrived in Monterrey late on a Monday evening with exactly zero plans for my time there but come Tuesday morning it was time to hike mountains!
We headed up La M near Chipinque and spent a few hours trekking along wooded trails and scrambling up rocky chutes before returning to the civilization for tacos + ice cream! I momentarily toyed with the idea of planning another hike or long run on Wednesday but…that never happened. I forgot to plan for Thursday and Friday, too.
Rather than have any set plans my days were boring. Like, not even worth a blog post or Instagram photo boring. It was awesome. I did work remotely each day just to stay on top of things but that was the extent of my daily dose of adulting. I did venture outside each day — once to wander street markets + city plazas, another time to check out the trails near our AirBnB and again to explore the neighborhood + “scenic overlook” up the street. Simple, easy “adventures” that had me ignoring the internet, being lazy and with plenty of time to watch How I Met Your Mother reruns in Spanish [to learn Spanish, obviously].
On Wednesday morning, as I laid in bed contemplating my plans for the day, I felt really guilty for not digging up the motivation to plan more while I was in Mexico. I was in another country for crying out loud, there were things to see! Things that didn’t include a comical Barney Stinson voice over.
But then I felt it…freedom. That freedom to go outside just because I could, not because the sunset was posing for the perfect picture or because this little window of time was literally my only chance to get outside. What a novel concept, going outside just because I can…not because my life schedule says I have to, right now! Or…not go outside, just because I wanted to.
And that is when I declared my entire trip to be in “vacation mode”. A time to forget about “must do” eat-only-tacos meals, ignore the will-this-look-good-on-IG shots and refuse to acknowledge the guilt that sneaks up at 2am when you realize you fell asleep on the couch watching weird TV. I was on vacation, no one was going to make me adult…not even the weird expectations we conjure up out of the internet abyss.
It was beautiful. I slept in, stayed up late, ate Mexican ramen, wandered city streets for an hour looking for a dirt trail…and book ended my trip with another big mountain hike, this time up Pico Norte of the Cerro de la Silla mountains. I was chomping at the bit for a little soiree and a foggy evening hike was the perfect dollop of whip cream on my week escaping from real life. I had spent a few days being just lazy enough to get giddy about a hike where my only expectation included rocks, dirt and a few bruises. Finally, vacation done “right”.