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(Published: 2008-06-01)

Ahhhh, summer is finally here. In Minnesota, that’s a big deal. Growing up, I remember anxiously awaiting the start of summer vacation. It took forever to arrive, and flew by all too fast, so I was always surprised to find myself ready and eager to head back to school in the fall. Even then I found it odd to have such contradictory longings.

As a student, I actually enjoyed having to write the requisite “what I did on my summer vacation” essay when school resumed in the fall. I was lucky. Our family took great vacations and I always had something exciting to report. One summer we took the Great Northern Empire Builder train out to Seattle. It was a particularly memorable vacation, not just because of the beautiful scenery through the Rockies. One morning, near the end of our trip, we were having breakfast in the dining car and I was seated across the table from my mom. I watched as she picked up the coffee pot and proceeded to empty it all over her pancakes, flooding her plate. I was horrified. She obviously meant to pour the syrup, but as I looked into her face I could see that she was stunned….and the coffee just kept pouring. It turns out that Elvis Presley had just walked into the dining car with a bevy of beauties in tow. My back was to the scene, so I had no idea what was happening. Talk about “all shook up.”

I love all types of travel, usually the more exotic the better. On the other hand, in true trend/countertrend fashion, I believe that there’s as much adventure to be found in your own backyard as there is half way around the world. Today, the travel industry offers many paradoxical options. If you haven’t planned your summer vacation yet, this list might give you some good ideas.

STAYCATION: With air travel a pain and the price of gas over $4 a gallon, many are opting to stay home. But that doesn’t mean you have to be bored. Most of us have local treasures waiting to be explored right under our noses. What’s on my list? The Spam museum in Austin, MN. (

WABI SABI VACATION: Wabi sabi is the zen art of balancing the pleasure we get out of things and the pleasure we get out of the freedom from things. In today’s fast paced media saturated world, freedom from noise pollution is an appealing option for the overworked and the super-stressed. ODE magazine’s Silence Issue has a cover story this month titled: “Shhhh….Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Peace and Quiet.” For a road map to inner peace, check out The Chopra Center’s ‘Seduction of Spirit’ retreat. (

GLAMPING: Glamping is the perfect solution for high rollers that want to get down to earth. A 5-Star Wilderness vacation allows you to experience firsthand what it’s like to live the primitive life, albeit in extreme luxury. Think a grass hut on a remote beach, a teepee in the mountains, or a tent in the desert, complete with 5 course gourmet meals, down comforters, and exquisite service. Press *5 for an in-tent or in-hut massage.

PRODUCTIVE LEISURE: A productive leisure vacation is one with a goal; the goal is to add meaning to the adventure. Instead of “doing nothing,” you do something good…for yourself and for others. Getting away to give back is a hot new travel trend. The quest to learn, to acquire a new skill, to help preserve the environment or rescue the treasures of an ancient culture is booming. The traditional “I was there” photo op is replaced with “look what we accomplished.” National Geographic offers vacations to all parts of the world where you can help preserve endangered species. (

Here are a few more paradoxes to consider in the world of travel. It used to be that when you traveled for business you couldn’t wait to get back to the comforts of your own home. Today, after sleeping in a Westin Heavenly Bed or wrapping yourself in a leopard print terry robe at a Kimpton Hotel, many travelers desire to bring the on-the-road experience back home with them. The complete Heavenly Bed ensemble can be purchased online or at Nordstrom, and most hotels will happily sell you the robe, the spa products, the shower curtain, and even the lamps to take home with you. Of course, the ultimate travel paradox continues to be that when you’ve got the money to travel, you don’t have the time, and when you have the time, you don’t have the money. My advice is to make time. Find a way to get away. Pack a suitcase or a backpack and journey out, or settle in to meditate.

I think you’ll find that there’s no place like elsewhere.

Pack your bags!

The Silence Issue

Robyn Waters is president and founder of RW Trend, LLC. She is the author of The Trendmaster’s Guide: Get a Jump on What Your Customer Wants Next, and The Hummer and the Mini: Navigating the Contradictions of the New Trend Landscape. Learn more about Robyn at All Rights Reserved.

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