Why vacations are so special to us

When you look back on the best times of your life, vacations are likely to come to mind -- whether family trips to Walt Disney World as a child, scuba diving adventures with friends, or romantic Caribbean escapes with your spouse.

But why is it that vacations hold so much meaning? Why do we have a tendency to say "I need a vacation" in the first place?

It's simple: vacations help us escape reality. They offer welcome respite from the daily grind, which, for most people, starts with getting up for work and ends with going to sleep to get up for work. In other words, vacations break a pattern of mundaneness in our life, even if only for a couple of days.

Beyond that, vacations create memories, some of which remain etched in our minds and hearts for the rest of our lives.

Like eating something new for the first time or entering into a new relationship, visiting a new destination can be very exciting.

For example, to behold the Grand Canyon or Statue of Liberty for the first time in your life is probably an experience you'll never forget. One thing is to see these landmarks in pictures or on screen savers-- another is to witness them firsthand.

We don't only reflect fondly on the sites and attractions, but moments we share with our friends or family -- from eating together at a spectacular restaurant to hugging under the stars to screaming in unison while riding a rollercoaster.

I didn't travel much as a kid, which explains why the trips my wife and I have taken in recent years -- to places like Boston and Washington -- are among the most special experiences I've had my whole life.

Truth be told, I've never been big on traveling until now. There are certain aspects that I find to be a drag, from waiting in the airport to delayed flights to big crowds. And the terrorist acts that have taken place in recent years have done their part to dampen my enthusiasm.

But, like anything else, we need to take the good with the bad. Living in a bubble out of fear or laziness isn't exactly making the most of the short time we have on this earth.

While not everyone fancies traveling, I would encourage people to at least consider a "staycation" every once in a while -- perhaps a weekend at the beach in a nearby city.

I use travel as an excuse to nerd out on museums and historic attractions. I am not a sand and surf guy, though I respect people who feel sunbathing on an unspoiled beach constitutes the perfect vacation.

In what ways are vacations special to you? Any in particular you'd care to share?

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