Do you have an end-of-summer getaway planned? Are you thinking about heading to the Northeast this autumn to check out the brilliant reds, oranges, and yellows that dance off of maples and other deciduous trees? Perhaps you are already planning a winter escape to the Caribbean that will allow you to sunbathe on beautiful white-sand beaches while your friends at home are bundled up in scarves and coats. No matter the destination or the season of the next vacation you have planned, the advice offered below can help you to more fully enjoy the location, the company you are with, and your time away from home.
Pack in Advance
You didn’t start packing until an hour before you needed to leave for the airport, which means that you of course did not leave home until a half hour after you should have. Not only are you stressed because you are running late and you are worried about being denied boarding. You are also racking your brain, trying to make sure you haven’t left anything behind. You run through the disorganized checklist in your head and can’t even remember if you brought your toothbrush or contact solution. You remind yourself that you can purchase these things at your destination, and calm down a bit. Then you start to think about your medication, your camera charger, your passport. You can’t turn back now, you’ll miss your flight for sure. You cross your fingers and hope that you have everything you need, but anxiety has already kicked in and you are not in your ideal vacation mindset.
Most of us can relate to this scenario, and there may not be a worse way to start off a vacation. To avoid finding yourself in this situation, start a running packing list a week or so before you leave, adding to it whenever you think of something you need to bring. Pack a full 24 hours before you plan to leave home. Double check your bag just before you head out. Not only will this reduce the likelihood that you will forget something. It will enable you to get a better rest the night before you leave. You will probably also pack in a more organized fashion and travel lighter than you would were you to pack at the last minute, throwing everything but the kitchen sink into your suitcase in an illogical effort to make sure you don’t forget something.
Don’t Work, if You Can Help It
Far too often, we carry the stresses of our everyday life with us on vacation in one form or another. Some of us have no choice but to bring our work with us, but others among us do this even when we don’t have to. Unless you are an innate workaholic who actually feels anxious when you try to relax, do your best to leave work behind when you are on vacation. Even if you have a job that will require some of your time and energy while you area away, do your best to get into vacation mode when you are not required to be on a conference call or handling some other work-related task.
Fall off the Grid
Don’t just take a break from work. Go a step further by switching off your cell phone and activating an auto-response e-mail to let people know that you will be away from your computer and you won’t be getting back to them for awhile without actually having to log in to your e-mail account and write them. Refraining from checking your cell phone and e-mail actually takes courage in this age of modern technology. But even it it feels uncomfortable at first, you are almost sure to appreciate being disconnected from technology and technology-based communication once a day or two has passed.
Live in the Moment
Whenever you start to feel stressed thinking about matters left behind or everything that you have to do when you return home, remind yourself that you are only on vacation for a limited time. Do not let yourself spend time worrying about problems that you cannot solve until you return home. Appreciate the beauty of the place you are visiting, and try to appreciate the now. Take photos that you can look back on later if you like, but don’t let your desire to capture every moment preclude you from enjoying a moment while you are living it.
Schedule in Some Relaxation Time
If you have chosen to spend your vacation trekking through rainforest, rafting down rivers, or biking down mountains, you are probably an adventure-seeker by nature. You may be so exhausted from physical exertion by the end of the day that you can’t do anything but rest when you are done. Plan accordingly.
If you are traveling to a big city with dozens if not hundreds of popular tourist sights to see, you may be tempted to create an itinerary that has you running from place to place, busy for 10, 12, or 14 hours a day. Sure, you are spending a lot of money on this vacation and you want to get the most out of it. Sure, you may only be in Paris, London, or New York once in your life. You don’t want to leave the city feeling like you have missed out on must-sees. But you also don’t want to leave the city feeling like the trip was such a frenzy of activity that you spent all your time running from place to place and never really had the chance to enjoy what you were doing.
If you create an itinerary in advance, be sure to schedule some down time. When these rest periods arrive, you can always go out and do something if you don’t feel like you need to sit in a park and soak in your surroundings or catch a few recuperating zzzs in your hotel room.
Take an Adjustment Day
If you have approached your vacation with a mind for the aforementioned advice, it should not be something you feel you have to “recover” from. Still, your journey home may be exhausting. Having a day on which you can wake up as late as you want and get organized before going back to the office will make the transition back to “real life” much easier.
By identifying goals for your trip in advance and planning accordingly, your vacation can be whatever you want it to be. Try not to set your expectations too high, and don’t squeeze in more activities than you have time for. Let calls that are not time-sensitive go to your voicemail, and take a break from your-email. You will have plenty of time to let technology and the stresses of the 21st Century rule your life when you return home to your luxury apartment. This is how you relax. This is how you can Live Life + Love Life on your next vacation, getting the break that you need so that you can continue to Live Life + Love Life back at home once your vacation has come to an end. This is how you can take a vacation without returning home and feeling like you need to take another vacation in order to recover from the vacation you have just taken.