Are vacations getting overrated? – Empty Nest by Curt Swarm


Ginnie calls it a “staycation.” Instead of going on a summer vacation, we stay at home and get things done—staycation. It’s fine with me. I’ve always been a home body (boy). I love our home, our two-and-a-half acres of Empty Nest Farm. Everything I could want is right here—my art, my writing, our garden, the comfort of our own bed, the love of my life. Why leave?
We had planned on going to Israel and Jordan, the Holy Land, with our church group in March. It was going to be the trip of a lifetime for us, to see the birthplace of our Savior. But the trip fell through because we couldn’t find enough people for the travel package. After getting our hopes all up for the Holy Land, I just couldn’t get excited about going anywhere else. I’m an all or nothing kind of guy.
Oh, we’ve made a couple of overnight stays to other places, and that seems to satisfy my wanderlust desires. A one-night excursion requires almost as much planning and packing as a week-long excursion—like a move across town requires about as much packing and planning as a move across country. When we load down the car, people drop by and ask, “How long you going to be gone, a month?” “Naw,” we say. “Just overnight.” Then when we get home, we feel all worn out, like we really were gone a month.
When Ginnie and I were married, we went on a honeymoon to England, Ireland and Scotland. My favorite stop was Stonehenge. I wanted to spend the night in a sleeping bag to see what spirits I might encounter. It’s probably a good thing the Neolithic Monument closed for the evening.
It seems like summer vacations always fall just when the garden is hitting its peak. Here we’ve spent all this time planting, weeding and looking forward to nice succulent sweetcorn, tomatoes, string beans and peas, then, boom, we’re not here to enjoy it. We have to tell the neighbors to come by and help themselves, which they zealously do. Then we get these disturbing texts while we’re gone saying, “Hey, deer have been in your sweetcorn and tomatoes. They’re all smashed down!” Grr.
I’ve always found vacations to be sort of stressful—rush here, see that, do this. There are crowds of cranky people all bent on seeing and doing the same things. The motels are crammed, the food is iffy, and we fall off our diet and exercise program. Vacations are supposed to be a time of relaxation, reflection, and rejuvenation. Instead, for me, they can be stressful, worrisome and anxious.
It’s been my experience that, without fail, something bad usually happens when I’m on vacation. Back in my working days, vacations would be the time that management decided to clean house and fire the people I had working for me; what I wanted done while I was gone, didn’t get done; and a whole corporate reorganization took place during my absence. It was like they were waiting for me to leave—punishment for going on vacation.
My dad was a great one for staying home during vacations and getting things done. He would build a sidewalk, replace the wooden bed in his pick up truck, or build an extension onto the garage to accommodate the longer Buick. After a week of puttering, he would return to work rested, well fed, and nothing bad had happened. I am my father’s son.
To make up for our lack of a vacation this year, we’re doing double duty next year. We’re replanning the trip to the Holy Land, and, in addition, we’re also going to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons with our cousins.
After all that, I may never leave home again.

Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at or visit his website at

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