Visitors to the Outer Banks often become repeat visitors. The spell of OBX is a hard one to break! And so when vacation time rolls around, packing is pretty much a drill. Bathing suits, beach towels, sunscreen, summer reading materials and favorite beverages are on the top of the list. But the start of the summer season is a great time to review that list once more – with family – and talk about three other items that should be packed in the virtual suitcase. These are items that can’t be seen – except through actions – but they will go a long way in making the vacation enjoyable for you, your family, and everyone with whom you come in contact.
The first is patience. Hatteras Island is a small Island. Highway 12 is the only road on and off. In the summer, especially on weekends, traffic is heavy. Speed limits in the villages drop to 35 mph and in some places 25 mph. Many visitors are uncertain about where to go and can make sudden stops and turns. Further north on Saturday and Sunday mornings, traffic can be especially heavy. Planning a trip to Ocracoke means a very early departure, as ferry waits of an hour or more can put a crimp in even the best planned day trip. Lines in the shops can be lengthy and while we have miles and miles of beaches, you likely will have beach neighbors. So patience is truly a virtue. Try to remember you are here for vacation, and try to find the positive in every situation. In a long line of traffic, look at bumper stickers and license plates, sing along with the radio, or actually look at the scenery outside your car window. Try to schedule the day to avoid peak shopping and driving times. Meet your beach neighbors and make new friends.
The second item is common sense. It is surprising how many visitors do things or say things on vacation that they would never, ever consider doing at home. Not only can this involve interactions with others, but also making decisions about personal safety. Hatteras may seem like another world but the same social rules and laws of nature apply here as they do elsewhere. The ocean is unpredictable. Currents are stronger than you are. Period. Our trees may look magical but they won’t protect you from lightening. People here have feelings. Private property means just that. And Park rules and regulations do apply to us all – even if we don’t always agree with them. Don’t risk your life or your holiday by making poor choices.
And finally, pack a bit of courtesy. Remember your Grandma telling you you’ll get what you need more quickly using honey instead of vinegar? It’s true. Being in a motel, or at a campsite, or on the beach with a bunch of strangers sometimes can truly test your patience. But remember everyone is here for the same reason, and unless your neighbor is truly rocking the boat, try to rise above it. If laws are being broken or you feel threatened, by all means contact the authorities. But 99.9% of the time, just moving elsewhere and/or giving the situation some time and space will do the trick and things will return to normal.
Everyone wants a relaxing vacation. Being in a shared space means we all – visitors and locals alike — need to work together to keep things running smoothly. Vacations are supposed to be memorable. By packing these three things along with your suitcases, travel bags and backpacks, you will make it memorable – for all the right reasons!