I’ve spent a chunk of time this week and last researching lodging for our trip to St. Thomas/St. John this spring. I make into quite a process. Probably one more detailed than is necessary, but I do so love vacation planning. And, I’m always on the hunt for a fantastic place offering a great deal.
The husband and I discovered these islands during a Caribbean cruise we took on our fifth wedding anniversary. There was kind of a dual intent of the trip, besides the obvious “let’s celebrate”; first, we had not been on a cruise before and wanted to give it a try. Second, we hadn’t been to the Caribbean before and thought a cruise, which exposed us to a number of islands, would help us decide which island we’d like to return to on our own.
I can, with some confidence, state that we are not the cruising type. Don’t get me wrong, we enjoyed ourselves. But, I think it was telling that 85% of my photos were taken off of the ship.
I, personally, was not overly fond of the motion of the ocean, even with the assistance of the motion sickness patch. We also kind of like doing our own thing, rather than having things planned for us. The ship was mind boggling (not in a bad way. In a wander-around-with-your-mouth-hanging-open-way). It was huge (we got lost fairly regularly the first couple of days). And, it had everything we could need or want (and more). But, take the meals, for example. We ate in the formal dining room the first or second night we were on board. I think we had our own table. If we didn’t I’ve blocked it out. Because, at 40+ years old I still seem to embrace the concept of “stranger danger.” I tend to not speak to those I do not know. I’m capable, but I kind of suck at idle chit-chat and am really not looking to make friends while we’re on vacation. So, I didn’t want to sit at a table in the dining room with people I didn’t know. We also found that the length of the meal was just too long. The multiple courses took a couple of hours. We discovered that the buffet was more to our liking; lots to choose from, including healthy choices, we could hit it anytime we wanted and could make it a quick in-n-out.
We also didn’t like being “on the clock” when in port. Since we hadn’t cruised before we elected to do cruise sponsored excursions to ensure that we didn’t miss our boat. We enjoyed them, but, I found myself hyper-aware of the time, if that makes sense.
We visited St. Maarten, Grand Turk, St. Thomas and Princess Cay (the cruise lines island). We didn’t actually see St. Thomas because our excursion was a hike on St. John to a beautiful beach. But, we liked the look of St. Thomas (lush green hills) and loved St. John. Fast forward and we’re planning a trip back to those very islands.
I mentioned that I love planning vacations. I do. So very much. The dreaming, the anticipation…it’s hard to explain. Fellow lovers of vacation planning know what I’m talking about. I do all of the planning myself…airfare, car rental, and lodging. We’ve never stayed in an all-inclusive. Maybe some day, but we like to have a kitchen because I enjoy cooking and because we don’t want to eat out the entire time we’re gone. My website of choice? VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner). We’ve never been unhappy with the places we’ve rented (well, there was that one condo in San Diego that wasn’t as clean as I would have liked) and have, in many instances, been pleasantly surprised.
We’ve decided to split our time between St. John and St. Thomas, which means I’ve been looking for two places rather than one. And, we’re going during the off-season, so there are a glut of options. Which has made the search almost overwhelming, in a good way. I spent time late this week taking notes on those that I had identified as “possibilities” so I could do a hard comparison and present them to the husband for final decision-making. I am happy to report that I just booked an apartment on St. John about 5 minutes ago and am waiting a call back from the St. Thomas condo owner.
Just as I take planning the vacation seriously I take the vacation itself seriously. I want to see, do, go. The husband? He’d be happy to pull up a sandy beach and watch the waves. That’s not to say that he doesn’t want to be active…he’d just like to do it at a slightly different pace than I.
The first couple of years of travel together were an adjustment for both of us. Overall, we did reasonably well. I learned that my planning needed to include some planned downtime. For instance, on Kauai he really just wanted to go to the beach. Okay. The beach. I can do the beach (though I can really only lay there for about 20 minutes before I feel compelled to walk along the shore, or snorkel, or read a book or something). So, I would consult my guidebooks and come up with a beach that I wanted to explore. Voila! The husband got to go to the beach, I got to go wander the shores of someplace new.
I’ve also learned that I can plan to my heart’s content and write lists of places to go but I should not roll the list out in front of the husband ahead of time. Or even when we get there. It makes him feel like he’s on a cruise ship. Everything being planned for him. It makes everyone happy if I quietly plan and make suggestions as the vacation unrolls itself. Compromise.
I’ve also learned that some days I simply need to allow for some beach time. Which I think I can do. On St. Thomas. And St. John.
Twist my arm.