One week in the Dominican Republic at an all-inclusive resort for a good friend's wedding. This is the place where you DON'T bring your laptop.
When I told the bride-to-be I would have to work for a few hours every morning during her wedding trip to the Dominican Republic, she protested, "But you're on vacation!" My response was: "The self-employed don't get vacations."
But halfway through the trip, I suddenly realized the effort wasn't worth it. At the all-inclusive resort we were staying in, the sketchy Internet was only available in the lobby. Since the lobby wasn't air conditioned, my laptop all but melted in the humidity. I tormented myself, stressed out over the details, and finally...I gave up.
I wrote all my clients. "I'm so sorry, but I've had this trip planned for over a year and I simply will have to put my workload on hold until I return." I offered them refunds for the week of my absence. I wasn't happy about it, but I didn't have much choice. I put away my laptop.
And then I had the best week of my life.
Dawne's wedding guests -- all 40-something of us -- were mostly strangers before our week in Punta Cana. But there's something about being trapped together in close quarters on a steamy, sexy, tropical island that just kinda brings people together. Our group dynamic was so perfect that we all became great friends immediately. We even want to do a reunion trip.
For one week, I LIVED in the moment, every moment. I got completely filthy dune-buggying for Dawne's bachelorette party, spent an entire day at the swim-up bar drinking cocktails, danced until the wee hours of the morning at the discotheque, rescued a crab from the pool on my flip-flop, took midnight swims (and even a few skinny dips), drank shot after shot of the liquid Viagra known as Mama Juana and ate all the ice-cream our little hearts desired. Sometimes we simply lounged around the lobby bar chatting and drinking mojitos.
I didn't even miss my Internet connection, not even for a fraction of a second. The whole experience was a big reminder that I am capable of living an unplugged life. This life, to me, is more valuable.
This was no small epiphany for me, although it was something I always suspected. I travel fairly often lately, but even when the trip is free, there's still a ton of work to do. There's lack of sleep, tight schedules, the constant pressure to be "on" and charming, and the knowledge that your whole career rides on how you can best create content that people identify with.
But this trip to the Dominican Republic? All for me. Pure, complete self-indulgence...hand in hand with amazing companionship. I had forgotten what it's like to share a hotel room with a friend. I kinda dig it.
I came home feeling relaxed, rejuvenated and happy. Ready to kick some major life butt. Filled with adrenaline.
I know the all-inclusive isn't a favourite among many "serious" travellers, but we spend so much time searching for that sense of place, sometimes we simply forget about OUR place. Stop over-thinking and simply BE. I'm doing another all-inclusive to Jamaica next year, and I've decided I'm taking at least two weeks of annual unplugged downtime so I can keep my sanity intact.
You owe it to yourself. Take a vacation.