Every few years, I want to take a warm weather vacation after the weather turns cold in Ohio. I want to put toes in the sand, hear the crash and thrum of waves on sand, feel the radiating sunshine pulsing on my bleached white brow, and drink a cold beer while the condensation beads up on the bottle.
I want to see turquoise water against yellow brown sand, sit under a brightly colored beach umbrella or covering made of palm fronds, and read a book in bright sunshine. I want to walk on the gritty sand, look for an interesting sea shell or two, and watch a sailboat scudding across the waves and framed against the far horizon.
In short, I want to get as far away from my normal day-to-day existence as I possibly can. This year, the destination is a few stops in the Windward Islands. We’re on our way.
A few months ago Kish and I were planning a trip. “When do you want to go?,” she asked. “I don’t know,” I responded. “I guess over Christmas break, or spring break, or during summer vacation.”
“You know,” my wise and worldly wife responded, “it would be a lot cheaper if we didn’t go on a schedule dictated by the school year calendar.” She was right, of course. In fact, travel booked at times of the year when kids are in school and families therefore are chained to their homes is considerably less expensive than travel during the peak school vacation periods. I felt like a dunce not thinking of that in the first place.
It was shocking to me that, seven years after our youngest left for college, I was still thinking in terms of the school calendar, when all vacations must be wedged into the little snippets of the calendar left open by some faceless administrator. It probably shouldn’t be surprising, however. When you are a parent and your kids are at home, over the years your time frames inevitably become synced to the Xeroxed schedule passed out at the first open house of the year. You become conditioned to thinking that way, and when the kids are gone from the house you stick to the old school-defined vacation patterns, even though you don’t need to any longer.
There are good things and bad things about being an empty-nester — and one of the good things is that you can find some nice vacation deals if you’re willing to travel in, say, early December right after Thanksgiving or the middle of February. Why not take advantage of the fact that you’re no longer shackled by the notion of “breaks”?