The Vacation Roller Coaster

elephant_coconutIn reality, I’m just a short week away from a seven-night Caribbean cruise with some girl friends. In my world, I’m three days of shoveling 14 tons of landscape rock in our backyard, one business trip to New Jersey, and two nights of packing procrastination away from a seven-night Caribbean cruise with some girl friends. I’m certainly not feeling sorry for myself, but the vacation roller coaster has already begun.

Vacationing is my second greatest talent (killing plants is my first). My fabulous employer allows me a little over five weeks a year; and my success, sanity and survival hinges entirely on milking every moment. And while I know the moment I step onto the curb at the airport the weight of everyday responsibility will fall away, I still can’t help getting sucked in to that loop-de-loop of pre-vacation crazy.

Right now, I’m on loop 2 of what I call the vacation roller coaster:

Scheduling High: Your vacation is BOOKED!!! Your be-jealous-of-me posts have been strewn across your various social profiles and you’re already contemplating your first umbrella-drink order.

Week Before Inner Monologue Loop-de-loop: “I’m going on vacation! I need to pack. Nah, I have six nights left. Except Tuesday and Wednesday. And I’m busy Thursday. It can wait. I’m going on vacation! Who is going to take this meeting while I’m out? Maybe I should reschedule. No they can survive without me. Should I pack tonight? I need to get a pedicure. I’m going on vacation!”

Last Day of Work Plunge: Today is the day everyone decides you’re important. The “one last thing before you leave” emails continue until after you actually leave. You contemplate the implications of never returning.

Out of Office Alert High: Click and relief! The sucker who agreed to cover for you is on the hook now.

One Quick Email Check Spiral: In a moment of airport/road trip/”family fun” boredom you decide to “just peek” at your inbox. You experience a quick burst of stress for all the things you’ll face upon your return followed by a twinge of guilt for the person filling your shoes followed by a deeper twinge of not caring in the least. You test your out of office alert. Power down.

Vacation Coast: You’re finally in the zone. Blue skies, blue waters and blue drinks as far as the eye can see. Your only care in the world is wondering what species of towel animal will be waiting on your bed after turn down service. You briefly consider how the movers would get your things here.

Mid-Vacation Hump: The days you’ve been here outnumber the days you have left and you can’t help but discuss this with your fellow travelers at every turn. “Just four soups of the day left to try!” “I can’t believe we only have three more nights of karaoke on the Lido deck!”

Last Day of Vacation High: You feel refreshed, you feel lucky and you feel ready to go back and take on the world with a new outlook on life. Mid-life crisis postponed.

Return to Work Loop-de-loop and Dive Bomb: The initial panic of 427 unread emails slowly wanes as you realize your back up actually had your back, then resurges with a vengeance when you begin to wonder if you are completely useless and replaceable. You use the free time to book another vacation.

Coming back from vacation is bittersweet. It’s never a pleasure to peel yourself from your beach chair, ski lift, or even couch, but rejoining the real world with a fresh perspective provides a little post-vacation buzz that makes your first few days back easier. At least until you get your next trip on the books.

Do you experience the vacation roller coaster?

Related posts: Modern Tourism, The Shower AffairSurviving a Seven Night Cruise

About WhiteElephantInTheRoom

I'm an 80s music lover, traveling junkie, mac & cheese connoisseur, amateur wine snob, party-planning priestess and Chicago transplant living in Southern California. I find adventure in the everyday and have a unending compulsion to write about it. Hope you enjoy reading my mind!
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25 Responses to The Vacation Roller Coaster

  1. Jodi says:

    Totally agree! Never thought of it like this, but completely relate! Great fun post!

  2. roxellamay says:

    So true!! Haha! Enjoy your vacation!

  3. I’ve been there, for sure. But there is a way to avoid all of this–the highs and the lows (although who would want to avoid the highs, right?) Live in the moment. It keeps you even. Because even though being elated feels good, you can’t stay there. You can still enjoy yourself without the rollercoaster of looking ahead or looking behind. It’s hard, but so worth it.

    At any rate, you describe just about everyone’s inner mess when going on a vacation–fun post. And have a great time with all the blue skies, waters, and drinks! 🙂

  4. grimgrad says:

    All very true, although you can’t forget the excitement over seeing something you think is amazing. It may be something genuinely awe inspiring or it could be a cat in a basket, but it’s amazing because you’re on holiday. It always happens with me like on my recent holiday to Cyprus ( but you have to be on holiday to understand why a Toothless backpack is more interesting there vs a high street shop on a wet day at home.

  5. leonie58 says:

    Hope you enjoy / enjoyed your vacation. Living in the moment is great advice, but spirits can plummet when you get back. Hope you’ve loads of great photos to browse over until the next holiday.

  6. What a perfect description…I felt like you were actually just describing my life! Just skip the “one last e-mail check step” and bliss will ensue from the moment you set your out of office alert 🙂

  7. author1955 says:

    You can write girl! [Better than this Hughes who IS related to Rupert Hughes]. Google him, not me!

  8. author1955 says:

    GOT PROOF? {Of the “Howard thing”]. Sure do! He was nuts? I beg your pardon!! – William Hughes, MSW

  9. I’ve been an avid reader of your posts for some time now. Thanks for this post… I always enjoy 🙂 Please read my latest blog ( for a short and witty, comical outlook on the types of people you find clubbing on a night out… It would be much appreciated 🙂

  10. Shadahyah says:

    This is my first time reading your blog, and i must say you’ve nailed that feeling you get when you go on vacation. Looking forward to reading the rest of your blogs.

  11. I’m lethal to house plants too. I’ve killed every single one I’ve ever owned, plus a few some very foolish people asked me to look after for them. Is there such a thing as a black thumb? But in a strange twist, I do just fine growing things outdoors. I’ve had successful herb gardens growing in pots on the back porch and my sweet pea trellises are a personal favorite. So why do house plants quiver in terror when I approach?

  12. Mic says:

    I figure keeping my pets and children healthy and alive balances out my black thumb. Plants just curl up their toes and fall over when brought in my front door.

  13. Haha, this is so true to life! This is the first post of yours I’ve read – looking forward to more 🙂

  14. I completely relate to all of this. Very funny and so very true….

  15. allirae21 says:

    Love this! So true. Too true…now I’m going to go plan my next vacation!
    And what job do you have where you get 5 weeks off for vacation a year?? That’s awesome!

  16. I completely identify with this feeling.
    Your blog is awesome! 🙂 Hope you had a good trip…

  17. wattsup07 says:

    If it didn’t mirror my own life so much, it would have been hysterical. Okay, it was still hysterical! New at this blogging thing. Just learning to read them and finally publish one. Glad WordPress recommended yours.

  18. beautylicious blog says:

    Your blogs are so cool! Can you check out mine? xx

  19. Check out Dedicatedpoeticspark and tell me what you think! Would be nice to know what I can do to improve. Thanks guys and love this blog btw.

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