“Get Out There” is a column for itchy footed humans written by Paste contributor Blake Snow. Although different now, travel is still worthwhile—especially to these open borders.
I recently read a quote that said, “I don’t want to leave vacation without knowing anything about the destination.” The implication was that travelers have some sort of moral responsibility to learn about the places they visit.
This rubbed me the wrong way. I say that as a lifelong student who usually devours foreign customs, culture, and ways of life while traveling. But sometimes you don’t want to do anything on vacation, and that’s totally okay. Sometimes you just want a break from daily routines, schedules, tasking, and commitments, and that’s wholly appropriate.
Whether you travel a lot or not, sometimes it’s refreshing to do absolutely nothing on vacation. No sightseeing. No local cooking classes. Just rest and relaxation. After a year of travel at nearly pre-pandemic levels, that’s exactly how I felt on a recent family holiday to Newport Beach, California.
While staying at a massive Marriott, beachside timeshare, I had no intention of even leaving the property beyond the beach in front of it or nearby restaurant. Sand, sun, pool, eat, rinse, repeat. That’s what I wanted to do every day. No emails. No calls. No taking notes or making observations as I often do as a “working” travel columnist.
For this vacation, I wanted a literal and figurative getaway with little to no movement. And that’s precisely what I got. It wasn’t the first time I’ve done this. Years ago my wife and I visited and never left a wonderful resort in Orlando. “You can’t come all this way and not leave the resort,” our shuttle driver pleaded. We ignored him. I regret nothing.
But in my attempts to stay both ignorant and disconnected at all costs on this trip, I actually learned a couple of things, even against my own will.
One: Newport Beach is the most underdeveloped spot I’ve ever visited in otherwise overdeveloped Southern California. Residential zoning laws maybe? Whatever the reason, this resulted in a lot fewer crowds on the beach and a lot fewer shops and restaurants along the streets. This, in turn, resulted in a lot more peace and quiet, for which I was grateful.
Two: Many of us overlook the free things that are right in front of us. For example, our resort had several large, gas-lit bonfires overlooking the ocean with cozy sofas and chairs situated all around them. These hangouts were little slices of heaven, especially at sunset. Window seating at nearby restaurants didn’t even come close. And yet most of these bonfires went unused, as other visitors worked hard to be anywhere but here in this paradisiacal setting.
Moral of the story: if we’re too busy trying to hustle or learn something all of the time, we can miss some of the good stuff.
Nine times out of 10, I try to come away more educated about the place I’ve visited than when I arrived. But every now and then, I like to mentally check out as much as humanly possible, which can be blissful. And yet despite my best efforts, sometimes I learn things even when I don’t want to.
ProTip: Newport Beach is a quasi restaurant desert. When we didn’t feel like driving 15 minutes to the next best restaurant, local grocers, in-room kitchens, and Domino’s deep dish carry-out kept us well fed. The latter is one of the best kept secrets in fast food (really)!
Blake Snow contributes to fancy publications and Fortune 500 companies as a bodacious writer-for-hire and frequent travel columnist. He lives in Provo, Utah with his adolescent family and two dogs.