My Continued Exploration of The Great American Vacation

In the past 18 months I’ve sprinted through all of the vacation stages that a typical American progresses through in, say, forty years.  I started out in summer of 2010 with The Great Europe Trip, during which we carried only backpacks and tried to ‘immerse ourselves in local culture’–you know, like 20-something college students.  Despite the fact that we did not start a family, we then started taking typical family vacations–Disney World (over and over) and this past summer’s Epic Road Trip.  Then, despite the fact that I’m on a leave of absence (and not retired) I just returned from a cruise to Bermuda.  (More posts on that trip coming soon!)

I’m not sure where Vegas fits in to all of that, but we did that too–twice.  I think I’m out of Great American Vacation destinations.

Having done all of these things, I now understand what is appealing about each and every type of trip (yes, even Europe!)  And so I bring to you, dear reader, what I view as the pros and cons of each trip type.  I honestly believe that no matter what your age-or what stage of life you are currently in–each one of these Great American Vacations has something wonderful to offer you (yes, even Europe!)  Of course, your opinions may vary–so please do chime in with your own pros and cons.

A European ‘Backpacking’ Trip


-You learn a lot, from art appreciation to geography to how to read a train schedule (or book train tickets using a website that’s in French!)

-The architecture and public spaces in Europe are typically far more impressive than anything we have in the states.

-Train travel is fast and efficient.


-If only due to airfare, a Europe trip is typically a bit more expensive than a domestic trip.

-There is typically a language barrier.

-If you’ve never traveled abroad before you may be in for a bit of culture shock–trust me!

A Vegas Vacation


-There’s lots to do, even if you don’t gamble.

-There are many, many great restaurants.

-There’s really nothing very culturally significant anywhere within a reasonable distance, so it is ok to just sit by the pool and relax.


-The casinos are loud and smokey.

-All of the ‘things to do’ and ‘great restaurants’ cost a lot of money.

-Las Vegas is definitely not child-friendly.  Obviously this is only a con if you have a family–we don’t.

Walt Disney World


-It is a completely controlled environment, complete with ample, clean public rest rooms.

-It is super-easy to plan a Disney vacation–and there’s so much planning information available (for free!)

-If you are staying on-site you don’t even have to worry about transportation.


-Of course, it is filled with screaming children.  And lines.  And crowds.

-It can be very expensive.

-It’s really, really hot for half of the year.

Road Tripping


-You are completely in charge of your trip–you can go wherever you want and stay for as long or as little as you want.

-You can take your time and stop at little ‘off the beaten path’ places.

-If you have a fuel efficient car and stay at reasonably priced motels and inns, it can be less expensive than some other travel options.


-You are completely in charge of your trip–which means there’s no one to blame if something goes wrong!

-You will be driving.  A lot.  And sometimes it will rain while you are driving.  Sometimes it will rain hard.

-You will be living out of a suitcase and checking into and out of places very frequently.

A Cruise Vacation


-Everything (except alcohol) is included in the price of the trip.

-A cruise vacation is easy–you don’t have to think about getting from place to place yet you still get to see several ports.

-Cruise excursions make planning almost unnecessary (though of course I still plan–because I love planning!  And, for the record, did not do one single cruise line excursion on this last trip.  More on that later!)


-Your destinations are limited by the itineraries offered and by geography (you simply can’t cruise to Denver!)

-Wherever you go you bring thousands of people with you.  This will result in lines and crowds.

-You don’t get to experience the cuisine of your destination–the food on the ship is often too temptingly free.

So–there you have it.  The pros and cons of almost every type of Great American Vacation.  Am I leaving out any important points?  And, more importantly, have I forgotten any types of Great American Vacations?  Because I really hope I did–it will give me an excuse to take another trip!

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