The importance of the unexpected


While reading a New York Times article this weekend on “How to Bring your vacation home with you,” one thought struck a chord with me:

…Research seems to support the idea that the best way to maximize the benefits of your vacation is to take shorter and more frequent breaks. Perhaps. But my personal and clinical experiences suggest that there might be something more to the effective vacation than just the proper length: namely, the importance of unexpected, immersive experiences.

The writer, a psychiatrist, argues that experiencing the unexpected while on vacation has a more profound effect on us than taking more time off. I believe it. I’d further argue that if you share that moment with someone, the two of you are bonded more deeply.

My husband and I love to talk about the time I got lost in Marrakech’s medina (and had to pay a child to show me the way!). Or the time we camped in a rainstorm in Italy. For some reason, those moments are lodged more deeply in my memory than the Paris restaurant I booked weeks in advance or the Thai museum I’d researched to death.

The only difficult part about this realization is that you cannot manufacture unexpected travel moments. You simply have to be open to receiving them when they present themselves. How about you? What unexpected experience has left an indelible mark? Meanwhile, a few links to kick off your week:

Where “arctic” and “cruise” go together beautifully

Apparently, October is the best month to visit Europe

Do you have a food allergy? You may have outgrown it.

My current conundrum: Parenting and screen time

Eyeing these sherpa-lined sneakers for fall trips

What stranded in an airport looks like today

Would you visit a stargazing preserve? I would!


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