Is the Quality of a Vacation Defined by How Little We Do?

Debbie Hatch  |  Family & F.I.T.


Time is an illusion.

Before you shake your head, close this tab, and start thinking I’ve completely lost my mind, hear me out.


It’s such a weird thing, isn’t it?  I have been back in the United States for four days.  Four days…and yet it feels like four months!  Part of that, no doubt, is working through an 18-hour time zone difference and three days of hormonal headaches but time is like that anyway.


When we’re waiting for something special, time seems to drag.  We wait.  We wish time away.  We want it to be “that” day right now.  When something special has happened, though; the day has finally come, and gone, time seems to race by without allowing so much as a moment for reflection!  I clearly remember my children being two and four; I remember conversations we had and things we giggled about.  Factually, they’re both in their thirties with children and lives of their own.

Tomorrow is too late and yesterday is gone.

That’s not just a euphemism.

It’s a reality. How many things have you planned to do “tomorrow” that you’ve never actually gotten around to doing?  How many yesterdays have passed?

Getting shots before travel.

Getting shots before travel.


My transition to “real life” after my three week vacation has been difficult, at best.  To be sure, it wasn’t you’re “traditional” vacation.  Two of the three countries we visited are considered to be “third world”.  Poverty and disease are real issues.  The order of the day is survival – in the very real sense.  I didn’t come back to the US thinking “Wow.  We’re incredibly fortunate.” To be honest, I already knew that.


No.  I came back thinking, “the amount of stuff we have, the amount of time we spend hustling for no reason, the amount of time we waste on stuff that doesn’t matter, and the amount of time we stress over pointless crap, is absolutely ridiculous.”  I can see how going from vacation to these revelations could seem a big jump so maybe it’s best if I start at the beginning.


Travel Log:  Days 1-3



We started by spending three days in Fiji, a small island nation in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  We didn’t visit the “real” Fiji though.  We stayed at an Americanized resort on Denarau Island; we had internet, top-notch restaurants and amenities.  The lesson didn’t start here but the story did.  These are notes from my journal, as they were written originally.



“It’s so weird that after I shared pictures of Brent and I at the gym this morning, I received several messages telling me I should ‘just enjoy my vacation’.  That I ‘shouldn’t worry about working out’.


When did enjoying vacation, life, or anything else for that matter, become synonymous with doing absolutely nothing?  When did “having a good time” mean stuffing myself with food and drink while lounging in a lawn chair?


To be certain, many of our fellow travelers seem perfectly content in that mode:  moving from their beds in the morning to sitting at breakfast.  They didn’t even enjoy the short stroll along the ocean.  Rather, they summoned the on-duty golf cart to pick them up and shuttle them about.  After breakfast, it was back to the golf cart, back to the room to prepare for a full day of sitting in a chaise lounge by the pool; having food and drinks delivered chair-side.  Dinner was provided via shuttle service and after sitting there, it was time to retire to their suites for television and bed.


I have zero judgment for these people.  Zero.  I mean that.

Palm trees

Gorgeous! But I have no desire to just sit here for 12 hours.

But that, to me, doesn’t sound like a good time.  It sounds incredibly boring.


It’s odd to me that because I didn’t have a completely sedentary vacation, some assume I didn’t enjoy myself.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.


In my typical day-to-day, I’m working.  All day.  I get up around 5 or 530 and go to bed around 1030 or 1100.  I’m tired.  When I’m working, bombarded with commitments, and stressed, at the end of the day it’s easy to feel like just collapsing.  More often than I care to admit, I don’t want to (in fact, it feels like I can’t) think.  I don’t want to do anything.  I don’t want to talk to anyone.  I just want to sit.  Quietly.


During vacation, I’ve gotten up at 330 in the morning but I’ve also been in bed by 8.  This has changed my interaction with the day entirely.  I wake up full of energy.  I have meditation time.  That word’s been over-used and misunderstood for a very long time.  Meditation is merely reflection.  Quiet time.  Thinking.  I write during that time.  (In fact, it’s 6 a.m. and I’ve already been up for 2 ½ hours).




Just before sunrise I walk the beach.  Not power-walking.  Just a casual, slow, relaxing stroll.  Once Brent wakes up, we’ll walk just over a quarter mile to the small gym.  We’ve been working out together for 20 minutes, walking back, and showering before we walk to breakfast.




IMG_7295We went scuba diving; walked a couple of miles to town for coffee and lunch each day; did stand-up paddle boarding. We read.  We relaxed.  Every evening, we walked the mile and a half from one end of the beach to the other, and back, while enjoying the sunset…and we napped.  Brent in the air-conditioned room and me in the outdoor hammock. It was amazing to have that time and simply rest, caressed by warm ocean breezes.  I ate…I had a little Fijian bread pudding for breakfast each day (in addition to fresh fruit, eggs and/or sliced turkey).


I didn’t deprive myself but…


I did reaffirm that when left to my natural devices – no commitments, no responsibility, no appointments, no time to be anywhere specific – my mind and body love to exercise.  Not because I have to but because it feels good.”

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