Each year I like to save about a week of my vacation time to take after Christmas to spend some extra time with my family. This year we planned to take several day trips during that time. Our family calendar was packed.
A few days before Christmas my son, Hayden, got pretty sick with bronchitis and an ear infection. On Christmas Eve I got a pretty bad chest cold. As a result of Hayden and I being sick we had to cancel all of our plans for the week.
At first we were all pretty bummed. Most people don’t like to be cooped up in bed all day for several days in a row (although for some of you that might sound like Heaven right about now). But after a while I began to enjoy the slow pace of each day, not having to race around from activity to activity like we originally planned. We spent more time hanging out and talking to each other, playing games, and enjoying some down time.
Looking back I can’t tell you the last time I’ve come off a vacation so rested and feeling so connected with my family. Many time I come off vacation with feeling so tired that I feel like I need a vacation from my vacation.
Maybe you can relate. A lot of people I talk to have similar experiences with their vacations. They fill their days with just as many activities (if not more so) as they’re working days, spend a ton of money, eat too much, and come back feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.
If any of this sounds like you I want you to know there’s a better way to approach your next vacation. A way that involves more rest, less stress, and a greater sense of connection with the ones you love. Here are five tips that will help you simplify your next vacation:
1. Limit the number of activities you plan. Part of what leaves many people exhausted after their time off is that they crammed too many activities into their vacation. The secret to enjoying a vacation is the same as enjoying a good buffet: focus on a few things. Don’t try to do everything. Do a couple of things that you will really enjoy. Save the things you can’t get to on this vacation for your next one.
2. Set a budget. Many people go overboard on their vacation spending. This usually results in having to work more at work to pay for our extravagant trips and purchases. There’s nothing wrong with going someplace expense or spending more money on special activities. Just make sure you save for it before you do. Don’t sacrifice your long-term financial future for a short-term trip.
3. Leave space in your schedule. Don’t schedule things back to back. Leave space in your vacation schedule for travel, rest, and unexpected delays. This will help you to feel less rushed and more relaxed.
4. Schedule down time. Down time is often what we crave during the work week, but so often what we neglect during our time off. Set aside some time to take a nap, read a book, take a walk on the beach, meditate, etc. It may feel uncomfortable at first (since so much of our lives are busy, scheduled, and planned) but this will allow you to give your body the rest it needs.
5. Disconnect to reconnect. Disconnect from your digital devices in order to reconnect with your family and friends. Turn off your phone, laptop, tablet, and other devices. Sit down together and play a board game, go out to a restaurant, play at the park, etc. What I’ve discovered is that the less I’m on my phone the more connected I feel toward my family and friends. I think you will feel the same way to.
It is a blessing to take a vacation. They can be great times to rest, reconnect, and have fun. Using these tips to simplify your next vacation will help you and your family to have a better time together.