Get Away! If You Don’t Take Your Vacation, Who Will?
In case you’ve been preoccupied with weightier matters — rising gas prices or the color of Peyton Manning’s next jersey — I’m here to remind you that March 18-24 is the second annual National Plan a Vacation Week.
Right! It’s a PR ploy created by hungry travel agents, but all the same it provides the very valuable function of reminding you that anticipating, planning and taking a vacation is essential to living a healthier, happier life. Allow me to repeat one of my favorite mantras: All work and no play makes for a miserable life and an early death.
So today, just for fun, because fun is more important to our happiness than bigger biceps and slimmer thighs, let’s review some vacation planning tips for you and your family.
— TAKE ALL YOUR VACATION. This above all. To enjoy your vacation, you must decide to take it. It’s crazy but true: Americans take many fewer weeks of vacation time than most other civilized nations.
This year, make a pledge to accept all the vacation time you have coming, even if you can only afford a Staycation. Vacations don’t have to involve expensive hotels or exotic locations. There’s great value in just shifting your mindset: from work to play, from pressure to pleasure, from pleasing the boss to taking care of yourself.
If you can’t find a way to disconnect from your job when you’re on vacation, you’re not allowed to call it that. Don’t check emails, phone the office or surf on work-related topics. I know it’s scary, but trust me, breaking the habit is what freedom feels like.
— GO GUILT-FREE. To stay healthy and balanced, everyone needs to relax, to re-energize and regroup, to remember what’s really important in your life. So when you’re on your vacation, leave your guilt behind. No fretting, no fear. It only gets in the way of experiencing new places, new friends and new points of view, all of which nourish your mental and emotional health.
So do bicycling along the river, camping in a state park, volunteering to help build a playground in a vacant lot. Vacations create space and time for you to reflect and rejuvenate, to express your imagination and explore your dreams. That’s why we take vacations! (If you need me to write a note to your employer, let me know.)
— PLAN AN ACTIVE VACATION. I know vacations are a matter of personal choice, but if you’ve never chosen an active vacation, you’re missing out … big time! The best active vacations involve a physical challenge — not too hard, but not too easy. They test your mettle in a way visiting a shopping mall or science museum never will.
Adventure travel — one of my middle names — builds confidence, develops character, and helps you face and overcome fear. And sometimes —I’m thinking of a particular class 5 rapid in Costa Rica — it makes you cry. That’s OK. That’s why active vacations are booming in popularity. Because they do provide those breakthrough moments, when you come back from your vacation a changed person.
You can choose from a zillion different adventures, from biking and hiking, to sailing and snorkeling, from riding horses to rafting rivers. Whatever you choose, focus on getting in better shape before you go. And do your homework — online, talking to friends, and reading magazines and books. Work with a reliable outfitter, don’t overestimate your skills, stay safe, and most importantly, try not to lose your children.
— ALLOW FOR THE UNEXPECTED. Planning for your vacation is a good thing. Over-planning isn’t. If you tightly schedule every day, every hotel, every meal, you’re leaving too little room for spontaneous encounters, those magical moment that deliver unexpected joy and excitement. You can’t look for them but you can find them, if you leave your hotel or home one morning with nowhere to go, nothing to do, allowing the day to unfold one unplanned moment at a time. Fun!
— HOME VS. AWAY. Times are tough, the economy is shaky, and there’s no shame in spending your vacation days close to home this year. All the same rules apply. Have your best time. Seize every moment, don’t waste energy feeling guilty, plan fun physical activities, and be open to discovering something new every day.
ENERGY EXPRESS-O! SHORT OF CASH?
“Kilometers are shorter than miles. Save gas; take your next trip in kilometers.” — George Carlin