Easy vacation ideas for a stress-free trip

Photo: Viktor_Gladkov/Getty Images/iStockphoto

It’s officially August, which means that with every passing minute, your time to take a summer vacation is rapidly diminishing. I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent way too much time in the past two months worrying that I have no intention of going to Europe. Despite the fact that my entire Instagram feed seems to have decamped to the Mediterranean, the hurdles for taking a big summer vacation have never been higher. Flying these days is a journey through the seven circles of hell and, with few exceptions, anything fun is expensive or bad for the environment or both. With that in mind, may I suggest you take the pressure off a bit? There are three weeks of summer left: just enough time to plan a very low-stakes vacation.

It’s not a vacation, and it’s not a road trip either. Car rides are long, intense, and make you hate snacks. I’m talking about a short drive (trains and buses are also welcome), between one and four hours away, to somewhere that looks boring on paper, which is part of the appeal. Yes, it can be a day trip! When you have a car and five hours to kill, the world is yours. Speaking of: Why not go clam fishing?

A few other low pressure summer vacation ideas that come to mind:

  • Visit the three gorges closest to you
  • Find a state fair and order several funnel cakes (maybe a corn dog too?)
  • Go shopping for a good tomato candle
  • Find your nearest Korean spa
  • Pre-mix a drink and bring it on the ferry
  • Buy a fancy beach towel, but take it somewhere that isn’t at the beach (the park, your rooftop, an engagement party, your gym)

If you need more convincing, let me point you to Rihanna and A$AP Rocky’s 2020 summer vacation, which Rihanna detailed in a vogue interview earlier this year and has been going around in my head ever since. According to her account, they hopped on a tour bus and traveled from Los Angeles to New York, with Rihanna grilling barefoot on a Walmart barbecue and A$AP Rocky tie-dye gas station t-shirts . Admittedly, the duration is far too restrictive for the type of vacation I am talking about. But the activities – both entertaining and very accessible – are perfect. According vogue, “No matter where they stopped, they were always having fun.” I’m not surprised!

The most important element of a low-stakes vacation is not to overwhelm yourself with things to do. Spontaneity is your friend. There’s nothing more freeing than stopping to investigate something on the side of the road whenever the impulse strikes. I once stumbled upon the best breakfast sandwich of my life through an apple picking billboard in Connecticut. But don’t let me tell you what to do! The appeal of low-stakes vacations is that there are no rules. If you want to spend the day tasting lobster rolls and call it a vacation, why not? At least you will know where your luggage is.

About Catharine C. Bean

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