It's summertime—the season of sunshine, fresh air, and getaways. You may be traveling, taking some time off work, or wanting to make the most of the longer days and the long weekends that accompany the season. Sometimes, instead of feeling replenished after a few days, a few weeks, or a full summer, you can feel depleted.
“No man needs a vacation so much as the man who has just had one.”
If you are like me, you don’t want to need a vacation from your vacation! Knowing how to balance time away with a smooth return or how to feel invigorated and revitalized despite juggling your work and your children on holiday can be a challenge. Here are a few tips to remind you how to have fun in the summer while also recharging your body, mind, and spirit.
1. Reduce Potential Stressors
Vacation stress can begin before your holiday starts. For example, traveling, deciding on a destination, booking and packing, organizing excursions, getting to the airport, dealing with delays and confusion caused by being in an unfamiliar environment, can all begin your vacation with stress.
If you have children or teens who are finishing school, the stresses can come from organizing camps, coordinating daily plans that aren’t on a regular schedule, or even worse, hearing “I’m bored.” Planning carefully is a great idea and can mitigate all these factors. Keep in mind the not-so-little surprise stressors like:
- Money: Be aware of how much cash you're going to need on hand.
- Overbooking: Know if you need to pre-book excursions or dinner reservations.
- Hidden Expectations: Have a conversation about what you and your partner or family expect from a vacation sets you up for success.
Planning carefully is a great idea and can mitigate all these factors. Be aware of how much cash you're going to need on hand, where you can exchange for local currency, and if you need to pre-book excursions and research the activities in the area that you'll be in.
Now is not the time to let your practice slide because the schedule has gone off the rails. Taking time daily to focus and center yourself is one of the best gifts you can give to everyone at home. While traveling, put it on the itinerary. Try an airport meditation, or when the time change messes with your sleep, take it as an opportunity to practice. When at home, grab a few minutes before starting every day to breathe deeply and get grounded.
Design your vacation, whether it's alone or with other people, so that you all know what you want to get out of it. You and your partner may agree on a staycation but if one of you thinks it's going to be a time to stay at home and get through the honey-do list and the other thinks it's going to be a time to stay at home to lounge and relax, then you're in for some tricky times.
Don’t Drop All Your Healthy Routines
Often on vacation, you may change everything. You sleep in, you don’t exercise, you eat more or differently than you usually would. One of these alone won’t mess with your equilibrium but letting all your health routines slide may leave you feeling grumpy and unsettled. It’s okay to mix it up a bit, just remember to listen to what your body needs.
2. Know What Kind of Vacation You Need
Relaxation isn’t the same for everyone. Some need time in solitude on a meditation vacation to disconnect from the outside world and their regular life. Others prefer a vigorous adventure that challenges you physically and mentally. There’s also many in-between options like sightseeing, beach lounging, visiting museums or theme parks, or coordinating family reunions. Taking time to check in helps everyone to know which one of these is the right thing for you.
Try a Standard Vacation to Avoid Decision Fatigue
If you find that novelty is fun but also tiring you can try to create a standard vacation. Going to the same cottage every year for the same week will allow your vacation to feel less overwhelming. You'll know what you're in for, you’ll know where to get groceries and where to find parking, and you’ll get the added bonus, after a few years, of feeling like a local.
Take a Group Tour
There is something to be said for having everything planned for you. Trying the type of trip where you have the entire itinerary created by a travel expert and handed to you may be right up your alley.
Other personalities may feel trapped by an itinerary and prefer to book the dates and have an open idea about what they will do. Of course, this is easier if you are traveling alone or as a couple, but I have done this with my family and loved it.
3. Plan the Return
We like to plan the away and we often forget about the return. Will you have 12 days of mail to deal with? Who will pick up the dog? Will there be 5,000 emails in your inbox? Get smart and plan more to avoid the return being chaotic. If you can, arrive home at least 24 hours before you return to work to get groceries, deal with mail, and have a buffer if travel plans have a delay. Don’t put an important meeting at 9:00 a.m. on your first day back. Ease your way in a little.
If you aren’t vacationing, plan for who is. Arriving at work to discover half your team is away, and you have to work overtime to accomplish only most of what is normal takes the fun out of summer. Decide what can wait and what is urgent. Know who is covering what role. Just because you aren’t away doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be enjoying the season.
As Maya Angelou wrote in Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now, “Every person needs to take one day away. A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future. Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence. Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares that will not withdraw from us.”
Take inspiration from her words and enjoy the summer!