a tale of two vacations

over the past two weeks, my wife and i have enjoyed two separate, yet amazing, vacations.  for 7 days, we celebrated our 10-year anniversary in beautiful riviera maya, mexico.  upon our return, we took our two kids and their grandmother to new york city for a broadway show and to watch the macy’s day parade on thanksgiving day.

the two vacations could not have been more different:  

  • one involved sitting on a beach while the water-boy kept our glasses filled – the other involved scurrying around new york city from one site to the next. 
  • one involved no deadlines other than “arrive back at the airport for flight home” – the other involved several ticket times and wake-up calls.
  • one involved an uncrowded beach – the other involved 3.5 million people crowded onto a city street.

while i often refer to our beach vacation as our “simple, minimalist vacation,” i actually enjoyed both of our trips.  in fact, here are some of the advantages that i noticed having these two opposite vacations immediately back-to-back.

advantages to our beach vacation:


  • no time tables – there was no deadlines and no wake-up calls.  i barely even looked at a watch. 
  • relaxing and refreshing – no time tables = no stress.  just 7 days to enjoy the sunshine, the water, reading, and each other.  we got plenty of rest as we went to bed when we were tired and woke up when we were rested.  we came home energized.
  • disconnected from everything and everyone – our kids and workplaces were in the capable hands of people we trusted.  we took no laptops, put our cell phones in the safe of our room, and only turned on the tv to check some football scores (me, not her).  it was the most disconnected that we have been from reality ever.  and it felt great (see refreshing and relaxing).
  • no kids – don’t get wrong, i love my kids.  but spending a week alone without them was definitely nice for both of us.
  • quieter – peace, tranquility, and quiet is so rare in our busy, connected world.   finding some should be a search that we embark on more often than we do.
  • a nice tan.

advantages to our city vacation:


  • shared experience with our kids and family – we love our family and having them a part of our vacation and memories was definitely nice for all of us.
  • amazing experiences to tak about – of the two vacations, we have found that we tell more stories from our busy, scheduled vacation.  the stories about the big parade or the broadway show are just more compelling than the umbrella that we sat underneath on the beach.
  • “accomplished” more – while some may define rest as an accomplishment, i enjoy looking back over my day and recalling the items that i specifically accomplished.  and based on that definition of accomplishment, i would argue that we accomplished more during our two-day trip to new york city than seven days on the beach.
  • a certain energy – there is just a certain energy that comes along with busy city streets and crowded sidewalks.  packing 3.5 million people along a parade route brings with it a certain energy that can not be duplicated anywhere else.

i realize that vacations can be a bit like religion and politics.  people have their specific preferences of an ideal vacation:  some love the idea of a beach, others enjoy the city streets.  some enjoy sleeping in, others enjoy seeing as much as they can.  some enjoy tourist sites, others enjoy the true culture of a destination. 

and there is no specific vacation plan that is ideal for a minimalist.  again, it’s all about what you value most.  i’d be interested to hear how you define your ideal vacation. 

oh, and it’s good to back.

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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  1. Craig says

    Sounds like a great time.

    Do you think the results would have been different had you done NYC first and the beach second? My wife and I have 2 kids and I tend to think I’d have been more uptight with the NYC trip first with all the noise and keeping track of them and wanting to see “everything.” I might be more laid back and mentally relaxed with my kids having gone to the beach first.

    Just interested in your thoughts….

  2. Greg says

    We have travelled to Mexico many times, and we joke that we begin the day by deciding who is going to run down and put our towels on the best lounge chairs, spend the morning reading and the afternoon, reading and discussing where we are going to have dinner. Total relaxation. Sun, beach, ocean, reading. It just recharges your batteries for the rest of the winter.

  3. says

    So glad you made time for both. I’m not sure there is an ideal vacation. It probably depends on where you are in life at the time. We all probably need both kinds. Some thought to ponder.

  4. says

    I found your blog a couple of weeks ago and read every entry over a period of a couple of days. Very informative and interesting! As a quiet, moderate minimalist who lives with my husband in a two bedroom place, I enjoy reading about others’ experiences in moving toward a simpler life.

    Vacations? I like a combination of relaxing days with nothing to do and days of museum hopping. When we were in London, that epitomy of crowds and busyness, last year for two weeks, we spent a couple of mornings or afternoons just strolling the streets and parks.

  5. says

    I agree that both types of vacation have intrinsic value. One, unplugging and de-stressing. The other, spending time with family and creating memories. How cool that you got to experience both back to back (but I wonder if you wish you had done the Mexico trip second, to recover from NYC?)

    Love your blog – thanks for writing!

  6. Kathleen says

    I just got back from 9 days with the family in San Diego – and I’m more tired than when I left!

    Trying to prevent the overstuffed syndrome while traveling, I managed to keep the suitcase down to 38 pounds (with presents), but coming back ended up with 54 pounds! Sigh. Fortunately, I got less “things” than in the past. My friends and family got me chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate.

    Well, at least I won’t be having doo-dads to dust off or to discretely discard in my future!

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