Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Vacation Brain

Recently I went on a vacation, a true vacation, not the annual grueling trip to our birthplaces, where we stay in other people’s homes whether they have room for us or not, and spend half of the trip in the car. No, this was a vacation. Beautiful rental house two blocks from the ocean beach, next to the pool, two blocks from restaurants, shops, free music nightly and an ice cream shop.


My life consisted of reading, hanging out on the beach, going to the pool, and usually going out to dinner. The hardest decision was when to shower; were we going to the pool or ocean in a minute? Shower before or after?

Before we left for Hilton Head Island, SC, I had visions of spending hours writing. I would have nothing but time, right? And I did write, some. But if I wasn’t in or near the water, I wanted to relax and read.

Vacation brain. I’ve only “suffered” from it a few times. As I mentioned, many of our vacations are spent driving 700+ miles to Michigan, then driving all over the state to visit family and friends and attend a reunion, then driving back home. It’s a blast, if exhausting, but there’s not much time to fully relax or to write. One summer I was so determined to keep writing, I wrote on a yellow legal pad in the car. And no, I wasn’t driving.

Vacation brain is the absence of worries, a calm, orderly, beautiful life, doing only what you want to do. In real life I don’t have a job to rush back to anymore, but I have a house, laundry, groceries to buy, children and grandchildren to cook for and spend time with, volunteer work, extended family concerns, friends, church, and writing. The first day back, I felt overwhelmed.

Ah, well, life is life and vacation is vacation. Time to get back to my real world and the fictional world of my novel, and neither of them are bad places to be. But oh, vacation brain—it’s a wonderful place.

Where is your wonderful place? Where do you go to experience “vacation brain?”


  1. Vacation Brain? Not sure I want one. I really like my life right now. I like my routine. I don't want to travel. I want the comfort of my house, my bed, and most important, my mac computer... That's my life right now, and I LOVE it!

  2. Hey I liked your love and kudzu pitch at Rachell's blog.. intriguing :)

  3. I don't know that I always go to a particular place to experience vacation brain, although on any vacation trip I enjoy not having any responsibilities for cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. For me, though, vacation brain can happen from moment to moment; it doesn't have to be an extended period of time. I'm a chronic daydreamer, so often I go off on vacation inside my head while remaining in the real world physically. Other times I take a vacation at home. I let the laundry pile up in the basket and I don't cook. I spend my time doing just exactly what I feel like doing. If that happens to be lying on the couch and reading most of the day, or watching DVDs, then that's what I do. If I feel like eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner out, then that's what I do. I don't take that kind of at-home vacation too often, though, because it makes me feel like a lotus-eater who has OD'd. If you eat lotus and only lotus all the time, it loses its savor. As somebody once said, variety is the spice of life.

  4. I agree when a real vacation means you can kick back as much as you want. Not cooking is my kind of vacation. So is when is my next tee time.

  5. OK, so I'm just now commenting because I was ON vacation and didn't have internet access. I love vacation brain - even though this trip really didn't qualify - and my favorite thing to do is sit on the beach under an umbrella and READ. I'll get up and walk along the beach or play in the water for a break, and then I go back to reading. I love it. My perfect vacation.

    Valerie, as for not getting any writing done on vacation, a respected author told me that we should spend our vacations with our real families, not the ones we make up.

  6. Hey Valerie,
    I agree that perfectly relaxing vacations are rare. Too much driving, or too many commitments in too short a time are usually the case.
    But it has happened! The perfect vacation! St Johns Island in the Virgin Islands. 2 weeks shared with good friends, gorgeous villa, fabulous beaches, relaxing, shopping reading and painting, kite flying, dinner out daily. Maid service! God wanted us all to live like that. Oh Yeah.