On any given year of sea duty my spouse was gone for either Spring Break or summer, and sometimes both. This meant we had to decide how we would spend this "vacation" time on our own. Taking a traditional vacation was always something we opted to do as a family, so deployment "vacations" were usually limited to visiting family and local attractions.
Have you made your Spring Break plans? If you haven't that is okay, here are some ideas on how to spend the week and share the experience with your deployed loved one:
In Your Local Area
Historical Sites – We recently took a short weekend trip traveling through Arkansas. While driving along the highway I noticed a sign for the "Birthplace of William J. Clinton". You never know what unique historical sites are right near you! Do some research and pick one that you'd like to experience.
Local Culture – Chances are in your city you have a unique marketplace or arts village. San Diego's Old Town is one of my favorites to visit. What unique marketplace is near you? Make a plan to visit.
The Best Thing I Ever Ate – For new ideas on places to eat, ask your friends and neighbors, "What is your favorite local food?" They are sure to have a great suggestion or two! I've recently discovered the Food Network show, Diners, Drive-In's and Dives. The host takes viewers around the country to classic "greasy spoon" spots. There are several places on my list to visit based on his recommendations. Pick one day of Spring Break to visit a new restaurant and leave the cooking to someone else!
Relax at a Resort – Sometimes traveling with small children just isn't as easy as one would like. Consider staying at a local resort that only requires a short car ride. I have found a couple of days at a nice resort with an awesome pool can do wonders for relieving deployment stress. The best part, I dont have to leave my zip code!
Play Tourist - Taking the time to see the "top spots" in our local area might not be a priority. I know I don't always take advantage of the things or places closest to my neighborhood. For example, I lived in southern Georgia for years and never visited Cumberland Island. People travel from all over the world to visit this "little gem that is Georgia's largest and southernmost barrier island". It's the one thing I wish I had taken the time to visit while I lived there. Do you have a local attraction that you have never visited? Make a plan to play tourist for the day in your own "backyard".
Explore the Outdoors - Sometimes the most unique places to visit don't cost any money at all. One of my favorite places to visit is the San Antonio Riverwalk. We enjoy strolling along, taking in the sites and sounds which usually include a Mariachi band. Check your local Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) office on your installation or their Facebook page for local sites to visit, military discounts and explore!
Capturing the Memories
Talk over your plans with your spouse. Find out what are the best ways to share your experiences with them. I've known spouses to use Facebook as a diary to record Spring Break memories and upload photos. Consider creating a few short videos and saving the clips to a DVD or uploading to sites like YouTube, Facebook or your own blog. Check the privacy settings and consider making the video viewable only to your spouse for added security and privacy. Another great idea is to create a slideshow with all your photos. No matter how to choose to document your Spring Break, be sure to share how much you miss your loved one and how excited you are for their return.
What are your ideas for still enjoying Spring Break during a deployment or long separation due to training, school, TAD/TDY, or remote duty?
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