hawaii beachAs someone who has family and friends living in all corners of the U.S. -- Chicago, Seattle, Fort Lauderdale, Boston, and L.A. -- I travel a lot. Most of the time, I'm jetting from New Jersey down to South Florida, which I'll admit is a respectable vacation destination. That's why my fiance and I chose Miami Beach as our wedding locale. We wanted our wedding to double as a vacation for our guests. But for me, going down to Florida is NOT a vacation.

And yet, my fiance and I always have the same exact conversation that goes something like this ... Me: "Babe, I wanna go on a real vacation." Him: "You just got back from Florida." Look, I love my parents, but hanging out with them? NOT a vacation. In fact, although I'm grateful for all the traveling I've had the opportunity to do (including a study abroad in Europe, visit to friends in San Fran, biz trip to Vancouver, summer trip to the Hamptons), I've never been on the fabled Perfect Ultimate Vacation I have in my head.

It's the one I've been trying to describe to my fiance every time he makes the assumption that my trips down to Retirement Town U.S.A. are vacations. It's an amazing, romantic trip that involves the following:

A never-before-visited locale far away from home -- as in, you have to fly to get there (though that's not a requirement, but it is a getaway after all). Temperatures in the high-70s, mid-80s, gorgeous beach(es), copious amounts of sunshine. Lush scenery, an interesting culture to explore, a dash of nightlife/entertainment, and some history, too. Little village(s) where we could go shopping. Being able to wear a sundress and flip-flops just about everywhere. Getting to go on adventures like seeing waterfalls and mountains (maybe volcanoes?) and dolphins and/or whales, snorkeling, learning to surf. Being served frozen cocktails poolside or beachside and delicious local food we couldn't get anywhere else back home. And being able to enjoy all of the above for at least a good solid relaxing five to seven days. That's all. That's all I'm asking for!

In many ways, my Perfect Ultimate Vacation really is your stereotypical tropical getaway. But who cares? It's a stereotype, because it's that awesome. And regardless, I've/we've never actually been on that vacay. (I confess: There was an attempt in Cancun back when my fiance and I first met, but we suffered through the entire weekend with severe bronchitis, so that doesn't count.) But, recently, I realized ... All right, so what if we haven't gotten the opportunity to go on this magical vacation yet? Because hey, that's what a honeymoon is for! A-ha!

The thing about the Perfect Ultimate Vacation is that it doesn't have to be your honeymoon. It could be any trip you take that fulfills a dream you've always had. But at least in our case -- and maybe this is just a silly romantic notion, but as a bride-to-be, I'm entitled to those on occasion, yes? -- perhaps we've never been on that Perfect Ultimate Vacation, because it was always meant to be our honeymoon. Our Hawaiian honeymoon (fingers crossed!). And if we're lucky enough to be able to do that next year, I promise my fiance I'll never complain about never getting to go on a "real vacation" ever again. (Or at least until I dream up another Perfect Ultimate Vacation we've never been on ...)

What's your Perfect Ultimate Vacation?