Have you ever come back from a vacation and felt like you needed another vacation?
This is pretty common when you’ve packed in a lot of stuff in one trip. For many of us, a vacation seems like the perfect time to do as much as possible.
See all the sights!
Do all the things!
After all, who knows if you will ever be back to this place again?
Unfortunately, taking this approach to a vacation can mean a lot more stress and a lot less relaxation.
If you aren’t going to relax and have a good time, what’s the point of a vacation in the first place?
Before you embark on your next “vacation,” take a step back. Will it really be a vacation? As you plan, keep the following strategies in mind to have a lot more fun and a lot less stress.
Plan fewer activities.
When I was growing up, there were times that the vacation was just a rushed and stressful mess. We ran from activity to activity and site to site without really experiencing anything. My favorite vacations were those that didn’t involve quite as many activities.
When you have a chance to slow down and experience life, you are far more likely to enjoy what you are doing, even if you do a little bit less of it.
You might be surprised at the memories you make when you slow down and actually make them.
Don’t forget: you can always come back again.
Even if you don’t, you’ll still make better memories if you truly experience a small part of something rather than getting a superficial view of lots of things.
As you plan your vacation, figure out which activities are most important, and which site you want to see more than the rest. Focus on the most important activities and don’t worry about cramming everything in. You can move slower and feel like you’re on a real vacation.
Take your time.
If you plan a real vacation with fewer activities, you will have time to slow it down. This can help you relax more and feel like you really are on vacation.
This effect can be enhanced if you plan longer vacations. When you have the time to take more than a day or two, you can enjoy yourself more.
During the last couple of years, my son and I have been lucky enough to be able to take longer vacations. One year, we spent two weeks visiting different Canadian cities. Spending between two and three nights in each place allowed us breathing room and time to explore.
We also spent several weeks with Philadelphia as a home base. From there, we could plan shorter trips to New York City and to the surrounding area.
It worked out really well. Not only were we able to enjoy ourselves, but there was also time to just recover. Instead of having an activity for every second of the day, we could have a real vacation and spend some time doing nothing but reading or sitting by the pool.
Having a large chunk of time and a home base can help you move slowly and relax more.
Being gone for three to six weeks doesn’t work for everyone, though. This vacation strategy works best if you are location independent with your work or if you have the ability to bank vacation days with your job.
Choose shorter trips.
So, what if you can’t just head out for several weeks? Can you still have an amazing vacation?
Yes, you can!
Another way to plan a real vacation is to make it shorter.
Your shorter vacation can be a weekend getaway that doesn’t take you very far or some other short trip. When you choose a shorter trip, it should be more about seeing only one thing or just relaxing in a new place.
Don’t try to pack a bunch of stuff into your trip. A short trip jam-packed with activities and craziness pretty much turns into a nightmare. If one little thing goes wrong in these scenarios, everything gets thrown off and the whole thing derails.
No matter the length of your vacation, be prepared for hiccups. Just realize, though, that the longer the trip, the less likely the hiccups are to impact the rest of the vacation. When you have a shorter time frame, it’s easier for things to get thrown off.
One of the things I like to do is go camping. I pick a place within four hours so that I only spend a half day of travel each way. Then it’s usually possible to spend two whole days in the woods. It’s very relaxing and I feel refreshed when I get home — especially after I take a shower.
There’s nothing like having to put away a ton of stuff to ruin the end of your vacation. That’s why I like to travel light.
I have one medium-sized suitcase and that’s it. If I will be gone longer than a week, I plan to do laundry. I don’t get bogged down in packing a lot of outfits or shoes or makeup. I don’t even bring a carry-on beyond the backpack I use to hold my laptop and other tech gear.
The fewer things you bring with you, the less you have to worry while you travel and the less you have to put away when you get home. Plus, you can have a real vacation, rather than spend a lot of time lugging stuff around or trying to unpack and re-pack all your things.
Traveling light can also apply to souvenirs. Don’t get bogged down with buying a lot of fancy stuff. What is that stuff good for anyway? It takes up space in the luggage, is expensive, and then when you get home, you have to figure out where to put it.
My son and I have a tradition of getting one magnet for each place we visit. This allows us a nice, cheap memento that doesn’t take up space. Plus, we know exactly where to put it in when we get home — on the fridge.
Plan time to relax.
As you plan a real vacation, don’t forget to schedule time to relax. Keep your schedule clear enough that you can sleep in, just sit in the hot tub, or read on the balcony. Plan a spa day. Take a long dinner.
Be willing to play it by ear a little bit. Sometimes, I like to cancel a plan so that I can keep doing something I enjoy.
Don’t plan out every minute of every day. Leave room for spontaneity or to just discover something new. You’ll be glad that you didn’t fill every single second with some sort of planned activity.
If you don’t time to relax while on vacation, you’ll come home and feel like you didn’t get a real vacation at all.
Put the camera away.
Finally, as you plan a real vacation, consider putting the phone away. Yes, your phone is probably your camera, but if you send all of your time trying to get the perfect shot for Facebook, you’re not really enjoying the moment.
I’m in the middle of a spring break trip right now. Even though I’ve caught a couple fun moments with my phone’s camera, for the most part, I’ve kept it put away. I love that I’m able to just soak in the moments on this trip.
Leave the selfie stick home. Take a couple pictures of what you see and a couple pictures of you and your loved ones. All you really need are a few pictures to trigger your good memories. You don’t need a ton of pictures to try and impress your Instagram followers.
Plan a real vacation like a boss.
As you learn to handle vacation like a boss, you’ll be surprised at how much happier you are when you travel.
While there will always be inconveniences and issues that crop up, it’s much easier to handle them when you’re not already frazzled from a tight schedule or a lot of baggage.
Slow down. Take your time. And pack light. Don’t worry about whether your vacation is worthy of Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest, or Instagram. Belive it or not, enjoyment sometimes has to be learned.
But once you learn how to plan a real vacation, you’ll get the most out of wherever you go.