8 things I learned on my vacation

Chaise lounge and umbrella on sand beach.We just came back from two weeks at an all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana. Last year we had several very active vacations in Europe and Vietnam/Cambodia so we decided to plan a more low key warm weather getaway this winter. Our daughter, her wife and our grandchild joined us for the second week.

Most people we spoke to before we left suggested we would get really bored if we spent two weeks at the same resort, and to some extent they were right. It will be a long time before I can face another buffet and we really missed family, friends and the theatre and music Toronto has to offer.

But the upside is that I read 10 books from cover to cover on my trusty Kobo and reduced my ongoing sleep deficit. With so much time to read and think, here in no particular order are 8 things I learned on my vacation.

  1. Airlines are cheap: We flew WestJet. Passengers who didn’t bring their own electronics could rent a small tablet loaded with a few movies and television programs plus earphones for $5. Several years ago when we flew WestJet to Florida we were able to watch the Olympics live while we were in the air.
  2. Nexus is my friend: When we landed at Pearson there were hundreds of people waiting at customs in lines that snaked back and forth. With our Nexus passes we waltzed through a line of only half a dozen people and went directly to baggage pickup. Of course, any time we saved was eaten up trying to locate my bag which didn’t make it onto the flight.
  3. Free wifi: The resort had free wifi as advertised, but that didn’t mean it was free working wifi. That wasn’t really a problem as I didn’t plan to work during my vacation. But it was a real nuisance when I wanted to post stories I wrote before I left on social media. And when my mother became ill and my sister and I had to communicate it was a major inconvenience.
  4. Credit-card free: My husband and I spent about $5,000 for our two week vacation months before we left. Once we were in the air we didn’t take out our credit cards even once during our stay. We spent about U.S. $200 cash on tips and a couple of restaurant meals at the local mall, but even those expenditures were optional.
  5. Far from the beach is fine: The Melia Resort in Punta Cana is huge. Our unit was near the restaurants and the lobby but about a 20 minute walk from the beach and the pools. While initially we were going to ask for rooms closer to the beach we only took the internal train for a couple of days and started to enjoy the walk. I was easily walking 10,000-12,000 steps a day.
  6. Too much food: Our resort had a reputation for excellent food. It was better than most but I quickly got tired of it. And although I thought I wasn’t eating much, all those sugary frozen drinks, bread and butter and ice cream can really pack on the pounds.
  7. Valuable family time: My daughter’s family were our guests for the second week in an adjoining room. Since they live in Ottawa it was an invaluable investment in quality family time. Daphne our 21/2 year old granddaughter woke us up about 7:30 every morning and we took her to “first breakfast.” With her curly red hair and constant chatter she charmed everyone she met. We got to know her better in this and previous week long vacations than we ever could in short weekend visits.
  8. How we don’t want to retire: In two weeks of doing very little other than walking, talking, reading, sleeping and eating, we realized what we don’t want to do when we retire. Both of us agree we need mental stimulation in the form of part-time or full-time paid or unpaid work. However, until we are finally prepared to leave behind what we are doing now, we probably won’t figure out what comes next.

It was great to get home, particularly since the frigid weather has broken and today the temperature climbed to 70C. Spring and summer are my favourite seasons in Toronto and right now there is nowhere else I would rather be.

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