There are those times when life’s pressures get to you. You think to yourself, “I’d really love to leave and go somewhere right now.” After a few deep breaths and a quick analysis you find that you don’t have anywhere to go, immediately, to relieve your stress. You panic realizing that there is little you can do. This sense of entrapment can be avoided if you have an emergency destination retreat plan.

It was in early November. I had had it. My stress was through the roof. It had been a long stretch since I had a relaxing time. At this point, a spa visit or yoga class would not be sufficient for me. In addition, my wife was at a similar point. So we were feeling trapped in our endless obligation and to-do lists.

But a little planning paid off. We had already identified an emergency destination retreat. We reserved our pet sitter and off we went for the weekend.

A destination retreat does not have to be an organized excursion such an advertised yoga retreat. Or a far away exotic location. The goal is to satisfy that immediate need to release stress — from being overwhelmed by life. I have three criteria for an emergency destination retreat location:

  1. It must be away and different from your usual geographic area. As long as it is sufficiently far from town that you feel enough distance to relax and unplug is all you need.
  2. The destination needs to incorporate enough of your favorite activities. You want to go there knowing you can do things you love at any time of year.
  3. Be affordable so that you can pick up and leave without breaking the bank.

For us, we love visiting Clayton, New York. Clayton used to be the recreation centre for New York City. At its height, Clayton had 12 trains arriving daily from New York City. The rich and famous owned islands in the area. Recreational boating is said to have bloomed in Clayton. Fishing is fantastic.

How did it meet my criteria?

Clayton is about two hours drive from Ottawa. It is on the St. Lawrence River and we love to see the big ships sail past. Our favorite hotel is the 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel. An affordable four star location right on the waterfront. The hotel has many events to attract visitors. We were there when they were serving special s’mores. They have an annual Fire and Ice Celebration winter festival event in February which is worth attending.

Our favorite activities there are many. We love to walk along the waterfront, visit the shops, sample some wine. We make sure that we attend a yoga class at River Yoga. The owners, Liz and Kristen, have published a book For the Love of Food and Yoga which I got to review and enjoy.

Our favorite breakfast place is a little restaurant called Koffee Kove. If you want to catch up on any of the town’s gossip, that’s the place to be. Plus, they serve up a generous meal where everything is made there. You have to try their pies.

Clayton is not a big fancy destination. So going there is easily affordable. The people are friendly and welcoming. The border guard looked at me funny when I declared that I bought an antique headboard for $40 and was bringing it home in my car.

After a weekend there, we feel refreshed. I guess there is one more criteria. You have to want to return to the destination when you feel the need. We always do. An emergency destination retreat as a go-to stress reducer is a blessing.

Originally published at on January 9, 2017.

Originally published at