I was excited as “Deke” and I prepared to go to the beach in San Diego. We bought an umbrella, beach chairs, and there were full bottles of sunscreen. As we sat down on the sand in sunny California, memories of my youth flooded me. It was in San Diego that I felt a certain right of teenage passage—roller skating near the shore (yes, I am that old that it was roller skating and not rollerblading), meeting men who were way too old for me (my father put his foot down when one of them asked me to meet him after dark to teach me how to surf. Imagine that?), and getting a tan way too dark for my fair skin. I couldn’t wait to relive some of these memories of yesteryear. As we settled in and I saw the young people throwing Frisbees, and frolicking in the sun, I was happy. Deke turned to me suddenly:
“There are people throwing a ball over our heads.”
“There are no cabanas here—no people serving you drinks.”
“Yes,” I said again growing curious, what was Deke getting at?
“This is a public beach.”
“I’ve never been on one.”
“What,” I said incredulously; for that is the only kind I had ever frequented.
“I don’t like it very much.”
I burst out laughing.
“You have never been on a public beach?”
“On the outskirts in Florida—when I walked my dog.”
Deke and I had fallen in love at this point, but it was clear that we had come from two different worlds. I was incensed when I had to pay $13 to put a blanket down on Long Island Beach in New York, and even more incensed when I found out that Greenwich, Connecticut was precluding non-Greenwich residents from using their beach entirely.
Deke and I later married, and on our honeymoon, I had my first private beach experience in Puerto Vallarta. Deke was right; having people bring you drinks on the beach is wonderful.
The aforementioned story of Deke’s non-public beach life has been a favorite in my family; my sister told Deke that she and her family were going on vacation, and, heaven forbid, were going to visit a public beach.
Even Deke’s first infant home was nestled next to a private beach. How could he really know anything else? Though I try to get Deke to be more Bohemian, it is normally to no avail; he is who he is: a discriminating (and dare I say spoiled?) traveler.
There are things we can learn from Deke. Most of our members at International Vacation Home Exchange are discriminating and sophisticated travelers. I thought it would be helpful to sit down with Deke and ask him what he is looking for in a luxury home exchange and in the travel experience in general:
What are you looking for in a luxury home exchange?
A lot of space, a good location, modern conveniences including good, quality Wi-Fi, first-class services in the kitchen including maintenance. Available scooters would be cool.
Why is service at a luxury home exchange so important to you?
Because I don’t want to be bothered with doing any of it.
What is your favorite thing about overseas travel?
It’s a good escape; it’s like reading a good book, only living it.
What is your least favorite thing about overseas travel?
Getting there and back, ongoing logistical concerns, the unknown of health services available.
What advice do you have for travelers looking for a more enjoyable vacation?
Go first-class all the way, or don’t go (This is very Deke; I say go anyway).
I hope that getting a bit into Deke’s head has been helpful. When I do it (and it can be an enlightening experience), I understand that all of us can be more discriminating travelers. Just knowing Deke has helped me to be a more discriminating on the whole, though my father does worry that his daughter might become a snob . . .
Sona Schmidt-Harris - @Sonag2000 – Thanks to Deke for marrying me, his patience, and for his participation in this piece about luxury travel; however, he wishes to note that this is the unauthorized version . . .