Guilt-free lazy-ass tourism

Warning: If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t enjoy idle relaxation, just don’t read this (go play volleyball, or something). If, on the other hand, the thought of doing nothing but lying around in the heat, reading novels, drinking frothy alcoholic beverages, and floating in the ocean for several days sounds like your idea of heaven, you’re ONE OF US. Read on!

I like a cultural holiday as much as the next person, maybe even more, but at this time of year there’s only one type of vacation I require: the all-inclusive resort vacation. No really, you’re at liberty to feel superior to me because you’ve gone arctic camping, or had a really authentic experience backpacking in Peru, but when I’m not exploring great cities like Paris or New Orleans, all I want is a markedly inauthentic experience.  Besides, I’m not convinced that being a patron at a resort is any less “authentic” than roughing it with the locals. Let’s face it, wherever you go, there you are — the affluent (by comparison) Western person far away from home. And did I mention it is January in Canada? The cold and darkness are feeling pretty darned authentic right now and so is my urge to escape!

Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba

Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba

After many years of arduous research in tropical locals (ok, mostly just Cuba), I have come up with a method for maximum lazy enjoyment. Here is what I learned:

  1. All-inclusive means all-inclusive: If you have to pay for your meals, find your own ride to the resort, or book your flights and hotel separately, you are adding STRESS to your life. Even just having to carry money around (aside for a few pesos for tips) changes the quality of the experience. No thinking, no planning: that’s the rule of the todo incluido.
  2. Seven to ten days is optimal: It takes 3 days before the tension leaves your body completely; I call this the “state of total relaxation” where I can just gaze out at the water and feel perfect bliss. And by about the 5th day, you’ve gotten used to your new reality. This is now your life: beach, buffet, beach, drinks, entertainment. La vida no es fácil. But push it to 2 weeks, and you’ll start to get bored. I’ll be breaking my own rule this time and only staying 5 days — boo me.
  3. Two bathing suit minimum: Wear one in the morning, then dress for lunch (you better put on real clothes, keep it classy, don’t be one of those “tabarnacos” eating half naked!), wear the other one in the afternoon. Putting on a damp suit feels icky. Other packing tips: bring one pair of long pants in case it’s cool at night, one cardigan to wear over your summer clothes, one pair beach shoes, one pair fancier flats/sandals, one pair heels, one fancy dress, a couple of casual skirts, shorts and t-shirts for the beach, and a cover-up. I always intend to wear a hat, but I never do. In theory though, I love a hat for the beach. Maybe this time I will try going with a turban to avoid the side part scalp burn.

    Surely, I will look this classy in my beach turban

    Surely, I will look this classy in my beach turban

  4. Tip early, tip often: Some resorts include gratuities. This seems great in theory (I’ll be trying out such a place this time around). But when I go to Cuba specifically (apologies to any American readers; that embargo sure is a bitch), I find that there’s really nothing to spend my money on except a couple of bottles of rum, so why not tip the friendly members of the resort staff?
  5. Stay far away from the animación: Are you there to relax on the beach or to play games by the pool? I like to pick out a spot on the beach that is far from the bar and far from any music or activities that may be happening. Call me an antisocial introvert, but the only sound I want to hear is the soothing crashing of waves.
  6. Other tourists: Accept that your countrymen and women are annoying. Sadly, for the tourism industry to be profitable there has to be many people doing exactly what you’re doing. And some of these people find it fun to talk about the last big snow storm in Montreal WHILE ON THE BEACH. Be friendly, but don’t engage.
  7. Be smart about the sun: Even brown people can burn; such is the power of those tropical rays! I’m a white lady, so, in order to avoid looking like a cooked lobster on the first day, I usually do a few sessions in the tanning bed before heading out. I know tanning is bad, but burning is worse; this is my rationale for the pre-beach fake bake. Once there, I make sure to alternate between the shade and the sun. Yes, I’m the loser sitting there with a towel covering my legs. But at least I come away with a nice tan and not too much peeling of the skin.
  8. Bring a small first aid kit: Disinfectant wipes and bandages won’t necessarily be available and you don’t want to go to the clinic for small cuts or bug bites.
  9. Dance: Yesss!
  10. Do escape the resort at some point: Seven days of full sun is a lot. While you might not get bored, it’s a good idea to take a break and go see something. An excursion booked through your airline rep at the hotel, or hopping in with a trust-worthy cab driver who can show you the sites, is a good way to mix things up. Then you can get back to the beach the next day feeling like you so deserve this.

And with that, I go pack my bags. Hopefully, by the time you read this, I will have a piña colada in my hand and a smile on my face. Hasta luego!


  1. Enjoy yourself! I’ve never been … don’t know when I would go. I like the beach, but I can’t be on it for days in a row—I need to know in the day, that there are other things to do. I keep telling myself that maybe resort packages aren’t for me, unless I go with friends 🙂

  2. I think I should have added something about bug spray. The sand flies got me good this time… the itching!!!

  3. That’s bad 😦 Hope the weather made up for it!


  1. […] compañeras, I just got back from another guilt-free lazy-ass vacation, this time in Cuba, and I feel like a little flirty talk. Like many Canadians, I’ve been to […]

  2. […] that frozen time of year again, the time when I start to look at all-inclusive vacation deals in tropical climates. Alas! This year, we’re being responsible and saving our pennies for […]

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