The old adage is that by the time a vacation is over, you need a break from all the stress. While that is true when your trips last a tad too long, it doesn’t have to happen. How you handle the “before” and “during” can have a huge impact on your relaxation level on a vacation.
Planning – There is a fine line between systematically scheduling every waking moment and flying by the seat of your pants. Neither extreme makes for a very relaxing vacation. There are a few things that need to be handled prior to taking off:
- Accommodations – You need to know where you are staying. That usually means reservations at hotels, flights booked… things like that. The more of that you can have locked down (and hopefully paid already) the smoother each day will go.
- Communication – In this increasingly wired world, communication will always be with us. Sure, you don’t want to sit on the beach checking emails every ten minutes, but some basic lines of communication for emergencies goes a long way toward putting you at ease. This means ensuring that folks back at home have ways to reach you (only in an emergency) and you too can reach someone back at home base.
- Packing – For some, this can be a huge stress by itself, but it doesn’t have to be. Do NOT think you need to pack for every possible scenario. If you’re headed backpacking, make sure to bring what is needed on the trail, but that little black dress really won’t be necessary. If you’re going on a cruise, do you really need your Coleman cook stove? Understand incidental needs will arise, so plan for small purchases as needed.
Create a budget – Again, you don’t need to list every possible expense down to the penny, but you do need to feel comfortable that you can have fun and not wind up with too much vacation time at the end of your money. Some things to think about:
- Hotel costs – These are the easiest to plan for as often times you can (and should) book the rooms long before you leave.
- Food & Entertainment – Understand that when vacationing, the temptation to spend more than you think is strong… just plan on it. If you need to scrimp some on a road trip, sandwiches not only save huge over dining out, but allow you to make better time on the road. That equals more time for the things you want to see and do. Or consider an all-inclusive stay. While this is costlier than some options, there is great peace in knowing that everything is already covered.
Schedule in down time – This is probably the most important thing to take away from this article. Don’t schedule yourself so tight that you feel like the last place contestant in the Amazing Racing speeding to avoid elimination. If you are constantly running to meet deadlines, you are not really relaxing. That is, unless you plan on taking a high-adventure vacation… in which case, you will need even more time to chill atop that mountain you just scaled or unwind after cliff diving.
Get out of your box – This is the time to try new things. If you don’t dance, why not give it a try on vacation… heck, nobody knows you there. You don’t have to get back to the office before lunch break is over so why not linger at the town square and meet some locals? You build memories by doing and seeing things you don’t during your 9 to 5 work day.
Leave work at home – Surely, this has been the toughest thing for me in the past, but I feel I’m getting better. Try to avoid emails or at least limit checking them to once a day. Before you respond, ask yourself if it is really an emergency. Will it be okay if it doesn’t get addressed until a few days later?
Enjoy the trip – take photos and post them online so all your friends think you have the “perfect life” and wish they were you. 🙂
by Chris Doelle