I suppose everyone has their own definition of "it all." For most, it probably includes our jobs, getting up early, cleaning, perhaps cooking.
As a result, most people I know plan a week, or even just a weekend, for a vacation somewhere away from home.
For me, "it all" has also come to include many other things about daily life, Walmart for instance and the fast food joints we come to rely on all too often.
A good vacation in my eyes, therefore, means escaping all my normal habits in exchange for quality time with my family.
When we went on vacation to Hatteras Island, N.C., last week, I didn't bring along my computer. I turned all the notifications off on my phone. I didn't watch my normal TV shows all week or cook any of my normal recipes.
It was perfect.
It's also why I was a little jolted when driving through Nags Head by the sight of how many familiar businesses had cropped up there since our last trip about a year and a half ago. Strip malls offered Sweet Frog, Dunkin Donuts, Tropical Smoothie Café and more at seemingly every block. Even the multitude of stores specializing in beach chairs and souvenir Ts touted iPhone chargers on their billboards.
From the looks of things, most people didn't want to "escape" at all.
My first thought was that in this era of smartphones and restaurant chains, getting away from it all must just be getting harder and harder to do.
Then it occurred to me, maybe the problem is that most people just don't want to.
A few years ago, before our parenting days, my husband and I snuck away to a family member's hunting camp in West Virginia for several days. Out where we were there were no restaurants, period, no neighbors, no cell phone service and, God forbid, not even electricity or running water -- and we didn't even have to drive that far to get there.
The most surprising thing isn't how much we enjoyed the solitude, how easy it was to adjust, or how relatively accepting I became of using an outhouse (something I probably hadn't done since camping as a kid). Instead, it was how shocked and amazed all of our friends seemed to be that could survive such conditions, let alone enter into them voluntarily.
Now, in the present day, the thought of going on vacation without streaming photos and videos throughout the trip, has become almost as unheard of.
On the whole, here at home, I am more into technology than a lot of people. I keep all our family photos and videos on a website. I do Facebook on my phone. My dad sends me texts.
But there's something about vacation that makes me want to get away from all that.
The same goes for food. When I'm on vacation, I'd rather try something new and different than take my family to an Applebee's on the beach.
Judging by our travels, I guess I'm in the minority. But if you've never tried to truly "escape," I highly recommend it. And it is possible and affordable. Flying overseas, for instance, won't be in my budget any time soon, but camping at a state park or renting a house off-season near a national seashore can do the trick, too.
-- Contact Jessica Wiant at firstname.lastname@example.org