When you travel just to get away from it all, how do you know when
you have shed your cares? That you are in vacation mode?
I offer several benchmarks against which to test your state of
mind, based on personal experience.
You have escaped the pressures of everyday life when the
following doesn't much bother you:You cannot get at your e-mail.
You cannot check voice mail.
The kids are doing their level best to be annoying.
Someone is kicking the back of your airline seat.
Your hotel is oversold and you are sent across town.
You and your luggage are not in the same country.
Your tour bus left on an excursion without you.
Your rental car has been towed.
You haven't heard the news and have lost track of the date and
the day of the week.
I do not claim to have remained unbothered under all these
A few are no challenge: I am nearly delirious without TV,
phones, voice mail and e-mail. But I don't much care for being
kicked in the back.
As for children, I know little about them as travelers, except
that I was one once. Also, I took two teen-age nephews to Europe.
One was a pleasure. I have never told my sister how happy I would
have been to strangle the other one.
I once was bounced from a Berlin hotel -- not on arrival, but
one day before leaving town. I liberated an ashtray as paltry
I took a Nile cruise minus my suitcase because it got off in
Rome and I did not. It helped my mood that my swimsuit was in the
In Siberia, my tour bus left for a Lake Baikal outing. I had
fallen asleep after a night flight from Moscow. The guide assumed I
was not going because I did not answer the phone.
I awoke and hitched a ride with another tour group.
The towed car in Milan was awful because my friend and I
believed it was stolen. We had paid for parking, but the
"attendant" was a con man and the parking spot illegal. We had to
pay a fine.
Finally, I have a long history of losing track of time. In my
13th year, my family drove to Palatka, Fla., to visit an uncle. We
were away on my birthday.
I eagerly and vocally managed the countdown to the 5th of the
month, a Wednesday, my big day.
That evening, after congratulations, cake and gifts, I picked up
a newspaper, and it said Wednesday, the 4th!
I had shortchanged the previous month by one day.
Given no one else noticed my error, I guess everyone was in full
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