Most hardworking people look forward to vacation, but only a select few truly know how to vacation well. Those who make the most of their time off will come back rejuvenated with a new sense of purpose, but those who don’t plan well, will return exhausted and burnt out.
In a recent article for Innovation America, Laura Vanderkam shares nine strategies for really enjoying your time off:
Enjoy the Anticipation
Studies have shown that it’s not necessarily the trip itself that brings us the most joy when we travel, but the act of planning that gets us excited. Plan your trip well in advance, and give yourself time to revel in anticipation of the experiences you’ll be having.
When it comes to travel, taking shorter but more frequent trips (lasting 4-8 days) will actually lead to greater happiness. The reason for this is that we, as humans, have short attention spans. The longer we stay on vacation, the more it feels like routine, which ultimately defeats the purpose.
A vacation is your chance to step out of your routine, an opportunity to experience something new. Don’t go on vacation just to do the same thing you always do. Instead, develop a childlike curiosity and seek out the novel experiences – whether its wine tasting or horseback riding or whatever tickles your fancy.
Work in Downtime
Although it may seem prudent to squeeze in as much activity as possible while you’re away, resist the urge. Plan downtime with a book or over dinner with close friends, so that your trip is more balanced.
Leave the Work for Someone Else
This tidbit is especially true for hardworking parents, who are used to cleaning up after and caring for their kids. If possible, bring along a babysitter, or even better, hire someone who will do the dishes and play games with your kids so you can actually spend time relaxing.
Bring Work with You
This may sound like heresy, but for passionate business leaders, self-employed individuals, and entrepreneurs, leaving work behind isn’t really something worth considering. To keep your mind at ease, schedule half an hour per day catching up on e-mails and checking on project progress, but then close your laptop. You don’t want to remain so disconnected that you’re out of the loop, or miss important e-mails, but you also need to make sure that you actually enjoy your vacation too.
Book a Big Finale
It’s always much easier to remember the end of the journey, rather than the beginning. If possible, plan the most exciting or fun aspects of your trip for the last – or at least, try to fit in that last minute flight upgrade.
Adjust for Jet Lag
If you’re going to working on Monday morning, coming back Sunday night is about the worst thing you can do. Give yourself a day or two to readjust to your normal routine before throwing yourself back into it.
Vacation time isn’t just about getting away from it all, sure it’s a time to relax, but it’s also a time to process, a time to learn, and a time to engage more deeply with the world around you.
What are some of your best vacation stories? How have your experiences with traveling shaped your worldview?