Not sure if you'll take a real vacation this year? Here are a few thoughts that may inspire you. Nine, actually. And they are all good reasons to get off the couch and go.
9 Reasons to Get Off the Couch This Summer
1. Travel is non-fattening. Since most Americans are so busy on vacations, what with swimming, golfing, hiking and braving the interminable lines to visit Mickey and Goofy, or performing labor-intensive chores like sunscreen application, I would suggest that dropping a few pounds is inevitable.
It also helps if you don't eat too much. The airlines help out by no longer providing free meals in coach, so don't forget to pack a lunch for the plane.
2. Flying helps the economy. The air travel industry has been humming along nicely for the past several months and the headlines touting recovery never fail to mention the billions airlines collect in fees. If that strikes you as the rich-getting-richer, remember these good times come after a decade of financial drought when several carriers went bust after 9/11. And don't forget all those mergers!
But while airfares have risen some since then, we have not returned to days when flying was only for the wealthy. Another point: Bankrupt airlines can't fly you anywhere. When you do fly, use a carryon to avoid the bag fee most airlines charge.
3. Exploration is educational. Go on vacation and you may learn that Washington, D.C.'s Smithsonian Institute is actually 19 separate museums and galleries (not to mention research facilities and a zoo) or that the 300 geysers in Yellowstone National Park represent half of all that exist on the entire planet.
Or you may learn what it's like to lose a bag or experience a flight delay. In such cases, contact the airline immediately (Twitter is increasingly useful as an airline contact tool) and if your bag gets lost, don't leave the airport without making a report.
4. Travel brings families together. There is nothing like a vacation for recharging, reconnecting, reuniting. If traveling with a misbehaving toddler, you may even unite an entire planeload of people (against you). Not to worry; I covered this in an earlier column that included useful tips like carrying plenty of chocolate for kiddie bribes.
5. Experience new customs. A custom on planes you may not be familiar with: If a crew member tells you to do something and you don't, you could get thrown off. That happened to an entire family awhile back when parents couldn't get some antsy kids to buckle up fast enough. Some things may be worth arguing about but if you have an issue with anything a flight attendant (or TSA officer) tells you to do, it's almost always better to wait until later to file a complaint. Bottom line: When the flight attendant says, "Get off that call NOW," you disobey at your peril.
6. Learn new language. When a flight attendant welcomes you aboard the plane and says your destination "SUX" she is not making fun of Sioux City, Iowa, but merely speaking ”airport code”. Flying is the perfect way to learn this exciting language that features such strange and lovely words as OGG (Maui), GRR (Grand Rapids) and BRR (Barra, Scotland). The less adventurous among you can always go to Rome and learn Italian.