On Vacation? Personal Growth is the Only Thing That Matters

Photo by waake hawaka on Unsplash

Trips with my folks were a lot of fun when I was a kid. But now I only see one reason to take a trip — personal growth.

Call it what you will, but if your trip wasn’t a challenge or you didn’t come back a better person then it was a waste.

How can a trip be about personal development?

1. Help your kid to overcome

I was a whiny kid. Naturally, I’d get over-stimulated and tired out on trips with my family. Then I’d get whiny. This was my parents opportunity to help me through that. Teach me how to handle a little overwhelm gracefully.

They would grow as parents by recognizing a weakness in me and helping me to overcome it. And I would learn to overcome. Who likes a whiny kid — or a whiny adult for that matter?

2. Get over your neurotic behavior

I was a neurotic kid, so fear came naturally to me. I learned what to be afraid of by watching what people around me feared. Coming from a small town, I learned to fear big cities.

I took a trip and spent a week in a rough neighborhood of Chicago with a friend of mine. It was culture shock, and it was good for me. We washed dishes for a week in a cockroach infested Christian commune. Living in the guy’s dorm, I don’t know how we ever escaped without bed bugs, head lice, or food poisoning. But we did, and it taught me that you can live in, and make it out of, big cities without catastrophe.

The same friend and I, along with a couple others, took a road trip around North America. We drove through deserts and snowstorms, small towns and big cities.

There is this principle in psychology that when you expose yourself willing to small doses of things you fear, you’ll slowly become less afraid. I no longer fear big cities.

Whatever that trip was about, it was nothing if I didn’t overcome my fear.

3. How to not come back a worse person

I should pause for a second and note a pattern. You’ll plan a trip for some lame reason like, “getting away,” “taking a break from it all,” or, “adventure.”

But once you’re on the trip, you must embrace any challenge that arises and overcome it. If you don’t, your trip was a waste and you will come back a worse person.

4. Whatever you’re seeking on vacation, you could’ve had at home

You can “get away from it all” at home in a bubble bath with a glass of wine. I mean, what’s the first thing you do when you get home from a vacation? Yeah, you relax.

And adventure? Have you actually exhausted your own back yard, your neighborhood, or even your home town? Not likely, because those places are too complex.

You’re likely just bored of those places. And your boredom leads you to seek adventure somewhere else. But you only corrupt those places when you visit.

But once you learn to grow on vacation, not only will you crave the challenges of adventure, but you’ll also crave the challenge of staying at home.

5. How to honeymoon totally naked

If you’re an animal, your honeymoon should be all about sex. But if you’re a human being, then personal growth — as a couple — ought to be at the heart of your honeymoon.

You’ve got a lifetime of challenges ahead of you as a couple, so you might as well start tackling them on your honeymoon.

I had to overcome my cheapness on our honeymoon. We checked into a crappy motel and then opted for one across the street. I know it doesn’t seem like a whole lot to some of you — because you naturally go for expensive stuff without thinking about it. But for me, it was a lot to bite the bullet and spend extra money for my wife.

Also, stripping down and making love, which is hard for most people to do, might as well be hammered out while on your honeymoon. Wow, what and awkward way to word that.

I was hopeless in bed with my wife. Twenty years of mistakes and neuroticism were catching up with us. I wish we had been able to be open before we got married. But in some kind of place outside real life where we could deal with our baggage ahead of time.

Oh, I forgot, they have a place like that; it’s called chastity and monogamy. But if you haven’t “been there and done that” then the next best place to grow as a people is on your honeymoon together.

6. Welcome to Hell! (Or, travelling with kids)

You think you’re a good person? Do you want to know what a weak and pathetic person you really are?

Then travel with kids.

Your kids.

Then you’ll know the truth about yourself. And, it’s not pretty.

They will sap your energy, push you to the edge, and smile as you fall over and plummet to your doom.

Or, you can grow as a person.

You can face every challenge that is thrown at you when you take trips.

Challenges like dealing with a perfectly potty trained toddler who suddenly pees their pants repeatedly on your road trip.

Or, the constant, never-ending whining that makes you just want to jerk the wheel and head straight for home — or the nearest telephone pole.

The secret to a good trip and a good life is what you do when the tough stuff arises. That’s how suicide and filicide became the norm.

See, if you can’t handle life in a car with your kids — well, you can’t handle life, my friend.

So you might just as well lock yourself in a car with a wife and couple of pee-drenched toddlers and find out who you are. The quicker you do, the sooner you know what you need to do to grow.

Personal growth is the only thing that truly matters when you’re on vacation.



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Most books can be summed up in a sentence. Instead of writing books, I write sentences.