I’m so excited to welcome Catherine from Forty20Four! She’s big into traveling with her husband, but also travels for work, so she has a very interesting perspective on vacations. Follow her on her travels, work adventures and home experiences on her blog, Forty20Four!
First, I want to say how insanely jealous I am of Mandy and her trip to South Africa. I’ve been to the African Continent 14 times in the last 5 years and I’ve never been on a safari or stayed in a hotel as cool as the ones she’s staying at.
Second, I’m so excited by the theme Mandy chose for her guest bloggers. I mean who doesn’t want to talk about vacations?
To me, there is a big difference between traveling and going on vacation. I travel for work. I’m actually writing this from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I go to new places where I see new things, have new experiences and work at least 12 hours a day. I spend a lot of time alone and don’t get out as much as I would if my husband Micah was with me or if I had any company at all.
I spent some time in Malawi a few years back backstopping some health activities my project was doing in the countryside.
Vacations are different. To me, vacations are not a solitary event. They are a special time for Micah and I to spend time away from the responsibilities of work and home. I’m away from home so much that when I do have a solid stretch at home, it’s spent catching up on work, chores, errands and seeing family and friends. Vacations are when it’s just Micah and I spending time together with no distractions.
I am anal retentive when it comes to vacations and planning, though as I get older, I’ve gotten better. When I was a kid, my parents didn’t have much money for vacations so we always went to the same places. Our destinations consisted of Vancouver, Portland, Reno (oh boy!) and San Jose/San Francisco area. My parents weren’t planners so I remember spending a lot of time sitting around. My sister and I would make lists of all the places we wanted to go and see and we were lucky if we check one thing off our list. In my parents’ defense, vacations were a time to do nothing. My Dad worked 14-hour days filled with manual labor and it was common for my mom to work overtime a couple days a week.
Anyway, when I got old enough to travel on my own, I made sure I visited 90% of my To See list. If I wanted to sit around and read, I could do it at home. I learned over the years that I had to be selective about my travel partner as most people aren’t as obsessive compulsive about planning as me. Actually, I knew Micah was the one after we survived our first vacation together without fighting or getting on each other’s nerves. All Micah requires is good food, some time on the move (walking, hiking) and beautiful scenery. I’ve definitely mellowed out over the years – mostly due to Micah. There have been whole days on vacation where we’ve had no plans. That’s huge for me!
Micah and I at Lake Louise — our first vacation together
When I take stock of our best vacations, they all included warm weather, physical activity, amazing food, some sort of cultural activity with a few hours of down time sprinkled in here and there. We went to Australia on our honeymoon where we saw Aida at the Sydney Opera House, went snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef, visited a koala refuge, ate some of the best seafood I’ve ever had and spent hours getting lost while exploring new cities.
Us with Pepsi the koala in Australia
We’ve had some equally as great vacations since out honeymoon. A few years ago, we went to northern Italy where we went to the opera in Verona, visited grape and olive vineyards, ate until we could move (several times) and took in the beautiful scenery in Dubrovnik. We’ve also had some amazing trips to Guatemala, Napa and Whistler.
Inside the walled city of Dubrovnik
This year we’ve already been to Hawaii and Vancouver and now we are planning a trip through New England. To spice things up, we are renting a VW camper van. Our list of must do/see includes camping and eat lobster at Acadia National Park, checking out the Ben & Jerry factory, exploring Portland and Burlington, hiking Mt. Washington and exploring a few of the lakes of the Adirondacks. The first three days of the trip will be spent hanging out at a friend’s farm with no plan or agenda. See, I have changed!
Maui in February = Heaven
How has the way you vacation evolved over time?
Catherine blogs with her husband Micah at Forty20Four where they discuss their adventures in building and designing their home, vacationing and all the other adventures they encounter in daily life. Catherine works at an international health NGO and also blogs about her time in Africa. Micah and Catherine live in Seattle with their dog Izzy.