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 Grand Palladium in Punta Cana, 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 kept getting interrupted by handsome men like Gaston who wanted to take me dancing at the disco off-resort. 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. It sucked, 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. I knew three or four of the girls, and was reunited with my good friend Alana, whom I hadn’t seen in three years. But our group dynamic was so perfect, we all became great friends immediately. We even want to do a reunion trip next year.
We 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 at the beach (and even a few skinny dips), drank Mama Juana, and ate all the ice-cream our little hearts desired. Sometimes we simply lounged around the lobby bar chatting and drinking mojitos.
My new nickname is TurboCandice™ for the night I declared I was getting Turbo-Candice-Drunk. Apparently my quote of the night was: “Hey, it’s the photo shop! I went there tomorrow.”
I didn’t even miss my Internet connection, not even for one nanosecond.
The whole experience was a big reminder that I am capable of living an unplugged life.
This was no small epiphany for me, friends. I travel fairly often lately, but even when the trip is free, there’s still a shit ton of work to do. Always. 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, with some amazing companionship. I had forgotten what it’s like to share a hotel room, and I kinda dig it.
I came home feeling relaxed, rejuvenated, and happy. Ready to kick some major life butt. Filled with adrenaline, and sweating vodka. Covered head to toe with mosquito bites. Malaria? Fuck it.
I know the all-inclusive isn’t a favourite among most bloggers, 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 goddamned vacation.