The Two-week Vacation

For the rest of us who can’t go on walkabout, our adventures are limited by the two-week vacation. A month or so holiday if you live in Europe. But fourteen days if you work in the United States. Sixteen if you leave and return over a weekend. At best three weeks, if your boss is kind.

I envy Europeans. Every trip I run into them on their month-long holidays. They’re always coming from the neighboring country and asking if I’m heading on to the country where they’re headed next. You can see a whole region in a month — Southeast Asia rather than just Cambodia or Thailand; the Middle East rather than only Egypt. And you can take your time if you want.

Two weeks is not much time. Factor in a day each way to and from your destination. And jet lag. Two weeks turns into ten days pretty quickly. Ten days is not enough. One week won’t do either — you can hardly justify the plane fare. I went to Amsterdam for five days back in the nineties. When it was time to go home, I wanted to catch a train to Paris or Berlin or Prague, not a plane to Cincinnati. I felt cheated. It was the last trip for several years.

The longer you stay in one place, the less time you’ll have somewhere else.So, you need two weeks, at least. And you need to commit yourself to those two weeks every year that you can afford it. You can do a lot in two weeks. You can see the best parts of a small country, or four or five European cities. It won’t cost you more than a week in Las Vegas or New York City, or that long family vacation in the SUV.

You’ll have to be mindful of time. The longer you stay in one place, the less time you’ll have somewhere else. And no, it won’t be like living there. To immerse yourself, you’d have to live there. If that’s your plan, you’ll need more time. Those people on walkabout don’t stay put too long either. It’s a big world.

Accept that your walkabout comes in two-week intervals. Two weeks is not so bad.

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