Why you need a real vacation NOW

When I told the bride-to-be I would have to work for a few hours every morning during her wedding trip to the Dominican Republic, she protested, “But you’re on vacation!” My response was: “The self-employed don’t get vacations.”


But halfway through the trip, I suddenly realized the effort wasn’t worth it. At the Grand Palladium in Punta Cana, the sketchy Internet was only available in the lobby. Since the lobby wasn’t air conditioned, my laptop all but melted in the humidity. I kept getting interrupted by handsome men like Gaston who wanted to take me dancing at the disco off-resort. I tormented myself, stressed out over the details, and finally…I gave up.

I wrote all my clients.

“I’m so sorry, but I’ve had this trip planned for over a year and I simply will have to put my workload on hold until I return.”

I offered them refunds for the week of my absence. It sucked, but I didn’t have much choice.

I put away my laptop.

And then I had the best week of my life.

Hells yeah that's a beach

Dawne’s wedding guests — all 40-something of us — were mostly strangers before our week in Punta Cana. I knew three or four of the girls, and was reunited with my good friend Alana, whom I hadn’t seen in three years. But our group dynamic was so perfect, we all became great friends immediately. We even want to do a reunion trip next year.

Alana and I had many dance parties

We got completely filthy dune buggying for Dawne’s bachelorette party, spent an entire day at the swim-up bar drinking cocktails, danced until the wee hours of the morning at the discotheque, rescued a crab from the pool on my flip-flop, took midnight swims at the beach (and even a few skinny dips), drank Mama Juana, and ate all the ice-cream our little hearts desired. Sometimes we simply lounged around the lobby bar chatting and drinking mojitos.

The filthiest bachelorette party ever

My new nickname is TurboCandice™ for the night I declared I was getting Turbo-Candice-Drunk. Apparently my quote of the night was: “Hey, it’s the photo shop! I went there tomorrow.”

Making new friends

I didn’t even miss my Internet connection, not even for one nanosecond.

The whole experience was a big reminder that I am capable of living an unplugged life.

This was no small epiphany for me, friends. I travel fairly often lately, but even when the trip is free, there’s still a shit ton of work to do. Always. There’s lack of sleep, tight schedules, the constant pressure to be “on” and charming, and the knowledge that your whole career rides on how you can best create content that people identify with.

But this trip to the Dominican Republic? All for me. Pure, complete self-indulgence, with some amazing companionship. I had forgotten what it’s like to share a hotel room, and I kinda dig it.

I came home feeling relaxed, rejuvenated, and happy. Ready to kick some major life butt. Filled with adrenaline, and sweating vodka. Covered head to toe with mosquito bites. Malaria? Fuck it.

I know the all-inclusive isn’t a favourite among most bloggers, but we spend so much time searching for that sense of “place,” sometimes we simply forget about OUR place. Stop over-thinking and simply BE. I’m doing another all-inclusive to Jamaica next year, and I’ve decided I’m taking at least two weeks of annual unplugged downtime so I can keep my sanity intact.

You owe it to yourself.

Take a goddamned vacation.

  • May 10 2012

    I’m with you…my vacations almost always include my laptop these days, and I usually get up early to squeeze in some work before the wife wakes up…c’est la vie…

    • May 15 2012

      Getting back to the grind…not so fun.

  • May 10 2012

    You have no idea how perfect your timing was in posting this…I’ve been spending the last week going back-and-forth over a trip I just got back from (it wasn’t all-inclusive, but several factors of it were), and I really wrestled with this “indie traveler in a luxury resort” scenario…but reading this, I think, helped tip the scales towards “just being,” and I feel like I’m now in a better place to reflect on & write about my (ahem) vacation.

    Thanks, Candice :)

    • May 15 2012

      I know, right? I’m always like, “What can I possibly write about from this trip?” Fuck it, any travel experience is an experience…all-inclusive or indie.

  • May 10 2012

    I LOVE THIS. That is all.

  • May 10 2012

    TurboCandice! I think that’s what I’ll call you from now. ha ha! Love the little TM sign you have on it.

    • May 15 2012

      Hehe, thanks! Can’t thank credit for it…it’s the genius of Alana.

  • May 10 2012

    I loved this post! I know exactly what you mean about traveling all the time but never getting a vacation. Sometimes you just need a day where you don’t even check your email and just do whatever the hell you want! I’m so glad that you had so much fun on your trip.

    • May 15 2012

      Thanks, Kelly! We need more unplugged days!

  • May 10 2012

    Good for you for saying eff it to working for a little while. While in Mexico last year I spent half the week there doing homework, and it sucked. Everyone, even travel bloggers/writers, deserve a real vacation.

    • May 15 2012

      Oh man, homework is probably even worse than work, haha. At least you’re getting paid to work!

  • May 10 2012

    Yay! It sounds like you had a blast and you SO deserve it. Happy for you babes! =)

  • May 11 2012

    Never trust blue drank!

    • May 15 2012

      I wish I had known that BEFOREhand.

  • May 11 2012

    Heck yeah Candice! Glad you had an amazing time with old and new friends. I bet that blue drink was tasty!! I agree – – take that vacation dammit. Everyone deserves it!

    Cathy Trails

  • May 13 2012

    Couldn’t agree more! It’s something I’ve been working toward for months and I’m finally there! I can now be self-employed and take days off at a time and so that’s what I’m doing. It took some transition, but it’s been so important. Sometimes I get lost in traveling and documenting my travels, but I took a domestic 5-day vacation a month ago and loved it and now taking another couple this summer abroad!

    • May 15 2012

      Woot woot! Where are you headed abroad?!

  • May 13 2012

    This post makes me SO happy! And, is a great reminder that, even though it is our job to do some of this stuff, doesn’t mean we don’t still need to unplug for a bit. I can’t wait for the next time I can do it … although I am not sure when that will be. I am so glad you had such an amazing experience. And, am totally looking forward to meeting Turbo Candice. xx

    • May 15 2012

      Thanks, D! How have we NOT met yet?! Crazy.

  • May 14 2012

    So… do you get, like… 50 cents every time someone drops the phrase ‘TurboCandice’?
    And if so… have I told you about my remarkable investment opportunity yet?!

    • May 15 2012

      Not yet, but we def need to market TurboCandice for all it’s worth.

  • May 14 2012

    “Hey, it’s the photo shop! I went there tomorrow.”

    Whoa. That is worthy of Kierkegaard. I shit you not.

    I’m with you, Turbo. Sometimes you have time and energy and money for the trek, the seeking, the grande tour. Sometimes you just wanna dance and drink mojitos.

    • May 15 2012

      Hahaha! Ditto. I didn’t even WANT to do excursions.

  • May 14 2012


  • May 15 2012

    I hear you Candice – and I bet every blogger hears you. Burnout happens to everyone if you can’t unplug and I think we all need to do it a whole lot more often. Two weeks in Jamaica next year sounds great; check out Marcia’s blog – InsideJourneys – for the inside scoop on everything Jamaican.

    • May 15 2012

      Thanks, Leigh! Definitely check it out. Might book a few extra days there so I can enjoy doing NOTHING but also do a few things off-resort as well.

  • May 15 2012

    Only two weeks a year? /shudder

    All-inclusive is indeed the way to go if you are pampering yourself.

    As far as unplugging goes…I might not technically work as many hours as some people, but I still stay connected in my hobbies when I’m not out doing things in here in the Riviera Maya or wherever it is that I’m on location doing another immersion guide. In many ways, long-term expat living is just another copy of what it was back in the States. I have my routine, I do most of my solo trekking in the weeks, but then I do group activities with my Mexican and other friends, who are always taking me somewhere new around the area. But my primary solo hobbies are watching serials/series and playing video games/MMORPGs…which means even when I’m not working I’m still connected in some way for streaming, downloading, uploading and beyond.

    However…those break-aways can a nice reminder that there WAS a life before Internet. As strange as that might sound for the new generation who were teethed on 24/7 WiFi and highspeed connectivity. I can still remember the echoed cries of the 14 baud, echoing through the house while I eagerly awaited my access to The Magical Land of The Internet.

    • May 15 2012

      I’m only 25, but I was never raised on technology and it was a very minimal part of my life until my late teens. Funny how that works. One day I may just escape to a cabin in the woods somewhere and hide from technology forever…why not?

  • May 15 2012

    Glad you took time to disconnect. I see too many travel writers and bloggers that think every day is all about business or making money…they don’t take time for themselves. Even if you travel for a living…you need vacations. Good on ya! ;)

    • May 17 2012

      Thanks! And I agree 100% — there’s a difference between “travelling” and “vacationing.”

  • May 16 2012

    I LOLed at the sweating vodka/malaria part — nice work.

    • May 17 2012

      I am still covered head to toe in bug bites, perhaps I shouldn’t joke about it. Ha!

  • May 17 2012

    This post made me miss my trip to Punta Cana so much!! I stayed at Dreams Palm Beach with my boyfriend and we had a blast. It was so relaxing but also had a party atmosphere. I would do anything to go back! ): At least I have Florida and the Bahamas to look forward to on Monday!

  • May 17 2012

    So fun, Candice!! I’ve been working so much that I haven’t blogged in ages. But I’m finally taking a vacation next week. I can’t wait to get on that plane!! My blog can wait!! And forget work… I’m not even thinking about work. Miss you!

  • May 17 2012

    Amen, sister! I’m taking one of these “vacations” you speak of next month when I go on a cruise with my family! Cruise ship Internet is the worst, so I will be pretty much forced to unplug the whole time!

    And you know what? I don’t think I’ll mind too much. :)

  • May 18 2012

    Yay for unplugged vacays! Sounds like you had a blast!

  • May 23 2012

    It’s so, so, so worth it, isn’t it? I take 2-3 weeks off a year where I just put the computer away and travel for travel’s sake. Isn’t that why we got into the travel writing business in the first place? Everyone needs a break, and you deserved one as much as anyone. I’m so glad you had a great time in the Dominican Republic!

    • June 05 2012

      Exaaaactly! Totally recharged and revitalized. Next year I’m doing Jamaica!

  • May 30 2012

    Love this – I can’t remember the last time that I was “unplugged”. These days it seems that I’m connected every waking second! Planning a temple stay in Korea and maybe a saucy weekend at a nice hotel in order to regain sanity and prove to myself that I can live without high-speed WiFi.

    I can’t make any promises about being able to live without trash TV in the absence of the internet, however. I’m only human after all.

    You’re right that we all need time away, especially us blogging types who can’t really take any down-time and always have to be on the ball. Great post. Someone take me away to the Caribbean please…

    • June 04 2012

      Hahaha, sometimes we just need to switch our brains off. Trash TV helps.

  • June 19 2012

    I love how candidly you write! Fuck it! love it! I’m glad you had fun on your vacation! I know how turning your vacation into a working nightmare can be. Sometimes it’s best when the internet does “break.” It makes us throw our hands up in the air and just say, “This must be a sign to just enjoy myself! Screw it!”

    • July 04 2012

      Hahaha, thanks! Def need more vacation time in my life.

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