Stephanie Spitler
April 30, 2013 6:00 am

Most of my recent vacations have been of the “city break” variety; I jet into a city I’ve never been to before, complete with a planned-out schedule and notated guidebook (I’m old-school; post-its and highlighters are my friends). I know what I’m doing from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed. And yes, I do schedule in “free time” (although I usually come prepared with ideas on ways to fill that free time). I’ve turned into much more of a planner since my backpacking days, when my plan usually consisted of shrugging my shoulders, buying a train ticket to whatever spot looked good (and I could afford), and having faith that I’d figure it out when I got there.

That’s not to say that I don’t still like to blow off steam sometimes. Vacations, getaways, trips… they are the perfect opportunity to let loose. It’s your one get-out-of-jail-free, forget-about-your-responsibilities, let-it-all-hang-out time of the year. Even celebrities aren’t immune to that viewpoint (Hello, Reese W. (I know she was filming and not exactly “on vacation,” but the vacation mindset can strike when you least expect it.)). The trick is having fun while staying responsible and safe, and not doing something stupid with potentially irreversible consequences.

Vacation time can mean lots of different things to different people: it can mean relaxing on a beach with a good book, scaling a mountain, hiking into the backcountry and fishing for your dinner, setting up camp and eating by moonlight, exploring a new city (concrete jungle safari!), or embarking on an epic shopping spree complete with 5-star dinner. “Vacation” can mean luxury hotels or tents or hostels. There as many different ways to define a vacation as there are people who take them.

So, what kind of vacationer are you? Do you take the opportunity to do something you’d never do in your regular life? Does “letting loose” mean collecting as many beads as you can on Bourbon Street, or would you rather get your kicks from trying something that scares you? (Sure, I’ll try climbing up the side of that mountain! Why yes, I’d love to try whatever that food is!)

I think I fall somewhere in the middle. Depending on the trip, I’m just as likely to be found on a pub crawl as I am in a museum gift shop. And that’s good. I haven’t entirely left behind my crazy club days, but I also don’t feel the need to stay out dancing ‘til dawn if I’d rather be relaxing at a cozy restaurant. It’s funny, the things that sound fun to you at 21 can easily become the last things you want to do when you’re 30. So, on your next adventure, I’d suggest embracing your impulses, whatever they may be. If you want to try windsurfing one day and then spend the next day with your nose in your Kindle, do it. Exploring doesn’t just mean the landscape around you; it also means exploring the different sides of yourself.

How do you let loose on your vacations? Have you ever done something totally out of character?

Featured Image via Shutterstock

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