What I Did on My Spring Break
4 adults + 1 toddler in a country that drives on the wrong side of the road.
Just got back from our 10-day trip to Ireland with family. It was absolutely one of the best group vacations I’ve ever had, even with an 18-month-old. I’m grateful to have been able to do it and proud of myself for taking the time away to rest and recharge during my “mini-sabbatical”, before needing to get back to the grind.
With a fan of Sesame Street in our house, we are no strangers to the concepts of the letter and number of the day. As we traveled with our son, we decided to take it a step further and introduced the word of the day, which was actually more like a mantra for our travels: calm.
Travel can be stressful. With or without a baby/toddler. It’s easy for the stress of needing to hit required schedules (like departure or reservation times) to make multiple members of the family want to cry. But so much of it is self-inflicted.
We decided really early on that we wanted this trip to be as relaxing as possible for a driving-heavy international trip with older family members and a toddler. There’s growing interest in running a “calm business” (an interesting podcast about it), as opposed to the hustle culture that currently exists in Silicon Valley. We wanted to take this similar idea and introduce it to our own lives a little bit and so we wanted to introduce the idea of “calm travel”.
This idea probably isn’t new or revolutionary or shocking. It’s not a “hot take” as the kids say (do they actually still say this?). Why wouldn’t you want to keep things as calm and relaxing as possible? Who is deliberately trying to make things more stressful? Well, I don’t think it’s that people are deliberately trying to make things more stressful (though I’m sure there are whack-a-do’s who do), but it is a direct byproduct of other priorities like efficiency.
One of the things I discovered after going through Sean Johnson’s Building an Intentional Life program was that “calm” was a core value of mine. This means that to me, I value calmness (slow, stress-free) more than most other values.
For me, I am happier and able to enjoy things more when things are calm. Not to mention the oodles of scientific research supporting the benefits of reducing stress in your life. As much as I love travel, the one piece of it that I could do without is the unnecessary stress it brings along with it. And while we can’t totally do away with all the horribleness, there are things we can do to help promote calm throughout the process. Like constantly reading the room and going with the flow, having backup plans for our backup plans, and limiting reservations (we actually only had 1 this entire trip and surprise: we didn’t make it).
2 nights in Dublin at The Morrison Dublin, Curio Collection by Hilton.
5 nights near Kilkenny at the beautiful Mount Juliet Estate (via Airbnb).
2 nights in Blessington / Wicklow on a beautiful private farm (via Airbnb).
Day trips to:
Woodstock Gardens & Arboretum
Rock of Cashel / Mount Melleray
Powerscourt House & Gardens
We rented a Peugeot 408 from Alamo / Enterprise. We booked an SUV and I was a little worried when I saw it, but it’s technically an SUV coupe and we had plenty of room for everyone and their luggage, so no complaints. I’m not much of a car guy, but apparently this is a bit of a hot commodity in Ireland. We even got eyeballed / gawked at by some gents as we were sitting in traffic on our way out of Dublin. It was nice to have a modern and super fuel-efficient rental that was fun to drive, even on the narrow Irish roads. I definitely didn’t get to enjoy it as much as I should have, but not being super comfortable driving on the other side of the car/road and having precious cargo, I didn’t want to push it too much.
Really proud of how little I did over these two weeks. I thought I’d do some writing on the plane but turns out that taking care of a toddler on long haul flights is not conducive to peaceful periods of quiet and mindfulness. Even when he slept (only on the first flight), I needed to follow suit so as to not be too tired to drive once we landed.
The only times I did any sort of “work” was while in Dublin and after the baby was in bed. I hopped on for a couple Build In Public Fellowship calls (a fireside and a wrap-up event) and maybe did a couple of quick LeaderBird.co updates based on user feedback, but that’s about it.
Overall, was a nice detox from work for a bit.
Some things that stuck with me while traveling that I’ll probably try to expand on at some point, but want to mention them, as I think they are interesting:
I’m grateful to be able to build in relative obscurity. As I figure things out and explore, this gives me the opportunity to try things (and fail) without many consequences.
Playing infinite games. Both Arvid and Dru Riley talked about this concept (good explainer video) in their fireside chats. I love this idea and explains some of the disconnects I’ve been feeling lately.
Been thinking a lot about Hierarchy of Needs as it relates to living a good life, but also as a solopreneur, and how it has shaped my career trajectory.
Are you traveling at all in this post-COVID world? If you travel, especially with young children, what are some things you do to help keep things as calm as possible? What kind of travel did you focus on (all-inclusive resorts)? How do you limit the frustrations of dealing with other (stressful) people and transportation situations? Or do you just avoid it entirely unless it's absolutely necessary?
Would really love to hear how others feel about this.
Loved this piece. Can’t wait to catch up soon!
Calm is a core value of mine too. I’m so glad you got the much needed break!
LOL at the moment where you realized you couldn’t get any writing/building done on the plane with your toddler next to you. Reminds me of my over optimistic attempt at packing my laptop in my carry-on luggage only to never touch it. (During my recent trip to India)
Zack I really enjoyed this piece. I appreciate getting to understand you through this project. Thank you for inviting me to participate.