As a kid, vacation was a thing of magic. Anticipating the chance to explore new places and try new wonderful things, you would fanaticize about all that lay ahead. You would make detailed plans or pack your suitcase weeks in advance, annoying your parents with your enthusiasm and the constant barrage of asking how many days until you left.
These days, things are a little different. While you still look forward to your vacation, your to-do list of all the tasks you have to accomplish before you leave keeps you from enjoying the same type of anticipation. Then, when you finally arrive at your destination, you find you’re still thinking about work, or the dog sitter, or whether your luggage will get there on time. Before you know it, three days have gone by before you can completely relax and fall into vacation mode.
Yet somewhere inside of you, that playful child still exists. It may be buried underneath the worry and responsibility, but she’s there. Vacation can be the optimal time to connect with that part of you. Follow these five steps to make it easier:
1. Let Go of Responsibility
Most often, moms (and sometimes dads) fall into this category. You know the weight of this responsibility. You need to make sure the kids have:
- Enough toys to play with
- A bath at the end of the day
If you’re the police officer, nurse, server, and entertainer, how can you possibly let your inner child come and play?
To remedy this, designate a day or two during your vacation as a no-responsibility day. If you’re able, give the responsibility to another adult who’s with you. Explain that the designated day will be your day off, and that no problem or obstacle shall be put on your plate. Give yourself permission to eat breakfast alone or read an entire book with your feet soaking in the ocean.
In the event that you’re not able to give the responsibility to another adult, give the kids a little more slack than usual, so you can have some “me” time. Or think about hiring a babysitter for an afternoon. Most hotels have onsite childcare or babysitters for hire.
2. Act Goofy
Society pressures you to act in certain ways to fit into social norms. Some of those rules go out the window on vacation. It’s likely that you’ll never again see the strangers you see at your destination, so you can afford to act a little goofy. If you’re staying at an all-inclusive resort, and they have the evening comedy skits, be a volunteer and ham it up on stage. Do the water aerobics with seniors. Sing in the talent show.
Ask yourself, “What did I do when I was a kid?” If you skipped on the promenade and got sticky from cotton candy, then allow yourself to be like your two-year-old self, eat that ice cream, and get it all over your face, for old times sake.
3. Try Something New
Being away from home, in a faraway place, can make you more of a risk-taker. Take advantage of this momentary freedom from inhibitions to try something new:
- Jump off the cliffs into the ocean
- Try parasailing
- Sign up for a few surf lessons.
Let go of your reasonable self and all the reasons why you shouldn’t try those things. Embrace the philosophy, YOLO (You Only Live Once), even if it’s only for a day. When you give into your adventurous side, you will feel exhilarated and see life from a different perspective. On top of it, you will have a great story to tell when you return.
Do you remember when you were in your early 20s before all the responsibility came? You joined in that game of beach volleyball and played putt-putt golf with the love of your life. Get yourself out of the goal-oriented mindset and jump into free play time where you’re not looking at a clock or concerned about the next event.
Play can open up your creativity in tremendous ways. You see things from a broader perspective. During playtime, you regain a grasp of the deeper meaning of life, such as playing fair instead of playing to win. And when you return to work, you can try including this deeper insight into your day-to-day decisions.
5. Be Present
It can be difficult to be present when you’re concerned about obligations back home or connected to your electronic devices all the time. Unless you have pressing issues that require you to keep checking emails, text messages, or social media, keep your devices locked up in the room. Set an automated out-of-office message, and if something does come up, ask yourself, “Can this wait?” Chances are, it can. If the world is not going to come crashing down around you by not attending to it, then let it go.
It’s likely that you’ve spent a lot of time, money, and effort to go on vacation. Immerse yourself intentionally into it and enjoy it thoroughly. Create memories that will last by being true to yourself and letting go of the responsibilities you have in the day-to-day. In the end, you will be glad to have had a more true and authentic experience while on vacation.