A priceless break with routine

6 min readNov 6, 2023

One of the pleasures of traveling is the ability to break with everyday routine.

A medium sized silver tour bus, front door open, sitting in a sandy parking lot under a hazy blue sky on a hot day in Sicily.
Our tour bus in Sicily, 2023 (author’s photo)

For the most part, being on vacation means enjoying a time without grocery shopping, laundry, house cleaning, obligations or work deadlines. Just lean into the novelty of new surroundings, new food options, new experiences, and go for it.

That’s certainly what I experienced on a recent trip to Italy.

We were fortunate to travel with an all-inclusive tour — hotels, transportation, meals, guides, were all laid on, we just had to turn up on time at the designated spot and take it all in.

As my partner calls it, luxury adult day-care.

It was divine.

I know that some people don’t enjoy this kind of traveling. They want to have the freedom to do what they want, when they want, with (or without) company, and more power to them. My preference is to have a mix of structure and freedom, in a framework where all the major question marks are dealt with by someone else.

Yes, it comes at a price. Happily, saving up over the dark pandemic years allowed us the ability to pay for a small-group excursion with just 15 guests. No cruise ship sized crowds for us — our little band fit on a medium sized bus, found lodgings in boutique hotels, and gathered around one banquet table for some very special meals.

One of them in particular was a complete break with routine. It has to go down as a “peak life experience” in my books.

We left the city of Palermo not too early one morning, heading southwest into the interior of the arid island of Sicily. After about 90 minutes on the road, the tour leaders had kindly worked a “comfort stop” into the schedule.

With very little else in sight, we pulled off the highway at a gas station and convenience store that promised clean washrooms and an opportunity for a coffee.

Little did we know that a peak roadside experience lay ahead.

My fellow fans of Dr. Who will know what I mean when I say the truck stop was like a Tardis — bigger on the inside than it appeared from without.

And true to Italian culinary standards, the coffee came from a gleaming brass and chrome device that…




Recreational writer, collector of antique corkscrews, urban gardener and retired management consultant to social profit organizations. Proudly Canadian.