It's Time for a Proper Vacation

Nina Willdorf

Hiking in California's Fort Baker

Someone recently told me that "vacations" are over and that Americans now take "getaways"—as if vacationing requires a three-week sojourn and we're all too wrapped up in work and worries to bother. Well, if a weeklong trip to California with my husband and daughter taught me anything, it's this: Vacations are genius, pure and simple, no matter how long they last. (And for the love of God, "staycations" don't qualify.)

We started and ended our trip in San Francisco, where I grew up, and decamped to Napa for a couple of days of wine tasting, hiking, decompressing, and introducing our 7-month-old to the sublime pleasure of splashing around in a pool on a sunny day. And when I got back, I felt like a better version of myself—the surest sign of a good trip.

I sometimes feel like an evangelist for travel (a host of Good Morning America wrapped up a segment I appeared on in May by saying, "Nina, you don't have to convince me to get out there!"). I won't get into all the reasons holding us back (not just work but money, time, missing The Real Housewives Reunion Special). The fact is, it's actually easier, cheaper, and more urgent than ever to do yourself a favor and buy a ticket to somewhere fabulous. Europe's totally on sale; there are enchanting discoveries right in your backyard, like on the North Fork of Long Island; and the same economic conditions that can make the prospect of taking a big trip feel daunting are also creating new opportunities to do exactly that. In our second edition of the Budget Travel Challenge, we explore the trend of last-minute bargains on long-haul flights. A writer taking the Challenge scored a ticket to Tokyo for $333. Tokyo! $333!

Those are just a few of the ideas we have for you in this issue of crazy, accessible, totally doable vacations—or whatever you want to call them.

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