Special thanks to M.A. for writing our first guest blog post. Lord knows we are hungry for content here at Skiinginjeans, so thanks for stepping up M.A.
It starts before school even gets out for summer. You may be in the pick-up line for preschool, or waiting at the bus stop for your kids, but inevitably you will start to hear variations on the same theme. Namely, “what are you doing this summer?” While this may seem like an innocent enough question, just mom-to-mom small talk, the underlying gist, of course, is “where are you going (translation: how much are you spending) on vacation this summer?” and/or “what camps / enrichment activities are your kids enrolled in?”
While much could be said, and many a blog post have already sufficiently skewered, the myriad options for upper middleclass kids these days – from over -the-top sleepaway camps costing upwards of $10,000 per session, intensive sports training camps for kids (meaning, their parents) dreaming of being the next D1 recruit, or even local or town-subisdized day camps that offer impressive field trips, yoga sessions and sushi making classes, little attention has been paid to the phenomenon of what I call “vacationing en masse.” In other words, spending your vacation with all of the same people that you spend your day-to-day life with, often in a locale that really isn’t all that different from where you live. Up and down the East coast, from the suburbs of NY (including coastal CT), all the way to Boston, you can’t throw a stone without hitting someone who spends the majority of their summer in Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket. In the city (a/k/a Manhattan), it’s the Hamptons or bust. Sure, some will claim to be cooler or more lowkey by going to Block Island, Shelter Island, or Montauk (which is technically just the Hamptons, but further). Don’t be fooled: these are still just summer outposts of the same communities. And it’s not just an East Coast phenomenon; Midwesterners flock to their Michigan or Lake Geneva “cottages” (often more akin to mansions), southerners to the mountains of North Carolina or the beaches of South Carolina, and Californians, to Malibu. It’s getting away, without getting away. Which begs the question, why go at all?
Sure, all of these places are certainly vacation-worthy in a purely objective sense. They boast beautiful scenery, pristine beaches, gourmet restaurants, a multitude of activities for both the young and the not-so-young. However, when you consider paying an exorbitant premium for lodging (assuming you were fortuitous enough to book at least 9-12 months in advance), spending hours in gridlock traffic getting there (if, in the case of Nantucket or the Vineyard, you were smart enough to book your ferry well in advance; more on the particular travails of the ferry below), the horrific traffic once you are there, and getting shut out of the aforementioned gourmet restaurants due to the crowds, one starts to wonder what is the point of it all.
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Meet New People?
More than any of this though, the idea of spending precious summer weeks with the same friends and acquaintances you see daily during the other three seasons of the year is mind-boggling. Maybe it’s because the summer population of these East Coast locales consists largely of finance douches wearing Nantucket red shorts and their Lily Pulitzer clad wives and kids (most of whom are among the most obnoxious residents in my Fairfield County burb), but I cannot fathom the appeal of spending the summer, not to mention tons of money and aggravation, bumping into them left and right on a tiny, congested island or spit of land. During the summer months, my Facebook and Instagram feeds are filled with posts by local acquaintances vacationing on Nantucket, featuring pictures of fellow acquaintances eating dinner together, having cocktails together, hanging at the beach together, getting coffee together, and well, you get the point. But I certainly don’t.
Ferries are Fun
In addition to the bizarre reluctance to congregate with anyone outside of their usual social and/or professional network or venture beyond the comfort zone of a preppy East Coast environment, Nantucket (and Martha’s Vineyard) summer residents also need to make sure they book their ferry reservation months in advance of their planned travel dates. Horror stories abound in my town of families whose kids do not make it home for the first day of school in late August or early September, because the ferries are all booked. They are literally stranded “on island” as they say. Or, you have booked and paid for your overpriced yet still mildewed-smelling and miniscule rental cottage well in advance (as most rentals will require), but you forgot to book your ferry six months in advance, so your lodging sits empty for a few nights while you wake up at 4 am several days in a row hoping to get on a ferry stand-by.
If this sounds like your dream vacation, you are not alone. In fact, if you live anywhere along the I-95 corridor in the NY tristate area, you will be surrounded by hordes of your neighbors and others exactly like you. Just be sure to pack your patience along with your Lily Pulitzer, crab-embroidered pants and Nantucket reds.
For the finishing touch, definitely leave your $150 “Oversand Vehicle Permit” on your car (or, even better, multiple years’ worth stacked on top of each other), so everyone in town knows where you’ve been.