Grateful Reflections on Travel Adventures in Chile

2014-01-24 12.42.35One of our favorite hikes in Chile. Short and snowy mountain tops!

Right before we leave for our winter vacation each year there are a few instances where I second guess our decision to go away for so long. I’m so wrapped up in my daily life and the minutiae that make up those moments that I have a hard time wrapping my head around taking a break from it all.

I sometimes even panic a bit, thinking that it’s crazy to try to just drop everything for six weeks. There’s just too much to do.

But, predictably, during the first week of vacation, I usually laugh at myself and think, “Did I really think that we shouldn’t go away this year? Am I crazy? We should go away every year. This is so awesome!”  At about week four I usually feel so disconnected from my life at home that it’s hard to imagine I have a whole existence somewhere other than where I am.

At five weeks I realize how relaxed I have become as I lay on the bed in our hotel room and listen to music on my iPod for two hours or sit on a deck just soaking up the scenery all around me.


The lake near our little inn in Huerquehue National Park

A four to six week vacation is the sweet spot for me (and I think for Mark, too). It’s long enough that we end up naturally building in plenty of relaxation time. We spend whole days reading or wandering or sipping coffee or napping.

We don’t feel like we have to be seeing and doing and running around every day. We have the luxury of time when we are on an extended vacation. It’s the perfect balance of doing and being.

Last week as our vacation was coming to a close it dawned on me that in a way, it doesn’t really matter where we go or what we do. What matters is that we go, and that we go for an extended period of time.

What we see and do is secondary. The real rewards of our winter break are deeper than simply sightseeing and traveling. Everything falls away during those weeks: grocery shopping, cleaning, paying bills, making dates with friends, calling family members, planning for the week and the weekend ahead.

All of the shoulds and have-to’s and I better’s…they’re gone. It’s just Mark and I with our backpacks pared down to the essentials, our travel guide and the days unfolding before us like a chain of crisp, white, blank pieces of paper ready to be filled in with whatever we desire.


A place to rest and reflect during a long hike.

Around week six, I happily start to let my mind wander towards home. I begin to think about all of the things I missed while away (my bed, dark chocolate, homegrown vegetables, IPAs and the library) and of the fun things I’ll do when I get back (order my garden seeds, see friends, shop at the co-op, write this blog).

When I finally can see Madison from the window of the plane as we fly into the airport I try to identify all of my favorite spots from the air. Then I step from the jetway and into the airport, smile sweetly to myself, and settle into the excited feeling of being home.

The realization that I love my life in Madison is a gift that I receive each year at the end of my vacation.

More travel posts:

Chicago Area Garden Destinations for Travelers

10 Years of Adventurous Winter Travel: A Recap

How We Travel the World on a Small Budget





  • Your trip sounds awesome. I love that first moment on vacation, when you realize that while it seemed so hard to tear yourself away from the day-to-day, it was SO worth it!

  • Anne Rodgers-Rhyme

    You always leave me with such sweet thoughts, vacation, taking time to relax, even your image of coming home really grabbed me. Thanks for your blog Megan!

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