How many times have you heard this from coworkers, or even said it yourself:
“I need a vacation from my vacation!”
Stress and vacation seem like polar opposites, so why is it that so many vacation experiences end up being stressful? Vacation stress can come from being unable to disconnect from work, trying to keep kids and teens occupied, packing in too many activities, or simply not making time for yourself to just unplug and relax.
Check out these nine quick tips to a less stressful, more restful vacation–you’ll be glad you did!
1. Family Vacation? Plan It as a Family
In order to avoid family disagreements, consider including your kids in discussions about your vacation early on. Search destinations with activities and attractions that will appeal to everyone. That way, realistic expectations can be set, and everyone stays happy.
2. Pack Less
Are you the kind of person who overpacks for vacation, then ends up wearing only half of what you packed in your checked-in luggage? Take a little stress off of yourself and pack lighter – you can fit everything you need for up to a three-week vacation in just a 21-inch carry-on bag. Remind yourself that you have the option to pick up necessities you may have left at home while you are traveling, and you can always shop for clothes on vacation, too – that’s part of the fun! You don’t have to take the entire closet with you when you go on vacation. Lighten your load – your back and shoulders will thank you, too!
3. Loosen Up That Itinerary
This is all about going with the flow and staying in the present moment. We all have expectations about what we want to see and do once we reach our vacation destination, but packing in too many attractions and being a slave to a rigid schedule is a recipe for stress and exhaustion. Take a moment to enjoy what is right in front of you, and take comfort in knowing that you will see what you have time for. With this attitude, you’re much more likely to enjoy a truly stress-free vacation.
4. Avoid “Vacation Cleaning Syndrome”
This is a common phenomenon that usually occurs the day before you’re ready to leave. You suddenly realize your house needs cleaning, so you stay up until 3 a.m. just to make sure it’s spotless for when you come home the following week. Let it go; if you don’t get any sleep before your trip, you’re setting yourself up for a draining travel experience that’s going to leave you cranky and susceptible to stress. The house cleaning can wait; you can get it all finished when you return home…and don’t think about it while you’re on vacation, either!
5. Don’t Check Work Email and Voicemail
Easy, right? Not so much, especially in today’s work environment where technology keeps us in touch 24/7. Here’s a quick rule of thumb: when you are on a vacation, you are off the grid. Turn off the email notifications and set the work phone to voice mail. The world will not end with you gone for a few weeks.
That being said…
5B. Give Yourself Permission to Check In
To check email or not to check email? Should I listen to that voicemail from work? Depending on your personal anxiety level, you can choose to either check in or not, since you are using your paid time off to enjoy a vacation. The goal is to separate yourself from work as much as possible, but sometimes a quick check of your messages can help relieve your angst that the office is falling apart without you, so you can go back to enjoying your frozen margarita on your floating lounge chair – aah…
6. Don’t Make Yourself Too Available
Of course, you need to be within reach if there’s an emergency back home, but that doesn’t mean you have to be on high alert. It’s your vacation. Turn off work notifications, give social media and apps a break, and maybe even (gasp!) turn off your phone. You’ll find that the world will keep on spinning, and you can pick right up where you left off when you power up your phone again.
7. Don’t Hit the Ground Running
Once you’ve reached your destination, you should give yourself at least two or three days to de-stress and detach from everyday life mode and segue into a blissful, relaxed vacation frame of mind. Don’t put pressure on yourself to feel calm, happy and at ease the moment you arrive at your vacation spot–it will have the opposite effect.
8. When in Doubt, Ask a Local
Want to know the best places to enjoy authentic cuisine? Looking for the best sunset views? How about the best shops for souvenirs? Ask a local. They live there, and they know, plus they are usually very eager to share the best of what their town has to offer.
9. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
Let go of what you can’t control and go with the flow. Enjoy your trip and keep stress levels low by having an open mind, disconnecting, and not fretting over the small things.
Just remember: detach, be in the moment, and have fun!