Alrighty, still settling in to 2010. Just got my W-2, doing vacation-accrual math, scoping out the vast expanse of the new calendar. Allowing myself a big financial sigh of relief having survived the holidays (including three birthdays therein), as well as the peak of several hockey seasons, with a modest tax return on the horizon. No nearby plans for big parties, requisite family gatherings or sporting events to splurge on. So: What do I do with my vacation?


Oh, bonus! At my five-year anniversary with the mag at the end of February, I begin accruing vacation hours at a faster rate.


Oh, caveat! Five of my vacation days have to be spent by the end of June.


I never know what to do with vacation time. I have this, like, maximization compulsion that makes me want to find the scientifically ideal scenario to pursue. (This disease often manifests as “choice paralysis” and can also be linked to my wanting to plot my straightening up around the house so as to avoid retreading a path or entering the same room more than once. See also: overcompensation at “Close Your Eyes and Jump” syndrome.) And with vacations, there’s all these variables and theorems—like, am I going for “best life experience” or “maximized relaxation”? Because one might involve a trip to Europe, while the other would almost surely avoid airplanes altogether.


Dear god in heaven, I’m neurotic.


Lots of times, vacation days really do wind up getting spent for me—either I need a day here or there after a hockey tournament or before a long weekend, or there’s a family reunion. Not that that’s been bad. The last few years, family excuses have taken me to Ohio, Seattle and the Olympic Peninsula, and every single park in Disney World (…twice). But I really want to be able to decide one for myself. It seems to me that the fewer third-person influences there are on your decision, the closer you are to maximized vacation potential.


If you’re calculating along at home, that’s (L + (R - St)C2) – Σ(Px) = Maximized Vacation Potential, (where Px is out-of-pocket expenses), which is surprisingly similar to how you figure out quarterback rating.


Anyways, Vegas was a great vacation along these lines—just a, “Hey, we should go here. This is an experience we should have.” But aye, there’s another rub, ‘cause do you go somewhere you’ve been before because it was so awesome the first time? Or is a brand new destination part of maximized potential? And if you’re traveling as a pair, is it better to be the vacation tour guide or the one who’s never been there? Or should you go somewhere neither of you has ever been?


Yeah, I know it sounds like I’m analyzing all the damn fun out of a vacation (welcome to my life), but, y’know, I like to consider things. A lot.


So anyways, taking all that (and more) into account, we’ve narrowed down infinity to a few options. Feel free to influence our decision with your own information. Or, heck, suggest new spots of interest. At this point, it can’t hurt…


Key West: Neither of us has been there (I’m a bad Floridian); it’s close, beachy and party-friendly.


Manhattan: Both of us have been there (separately), but we feel drawn to the bright lights and big city.

Seattle: ‘Cause it’s perdy and I like it.


Las Vegas: ‘Cause it’s awesome.


New Orleans: CCB’s birth state; known for food and music (we like these things); a quintessential American city that neither of us has experienced.


North Carolina: Between the two of us, there’s familial connections in Wilmington and Raleigh—both fun cities worth a couple-days’ tour; and going east to west, we could also hit mountainous Boone, for fantastic scenery and hippie-fied college-town atmosphere.

San Diego: More familial and friend connections; niiiiiiice weather.


So, whaddya think? Hit me up with your thoughts in the comments section. Best idea gets a ride-along during our vacation (only no, not really).