When you hear the word “vacation” what images come to mind? Do you envision an exciting location where you spend time indulging and pampering yourself? Or maybe, for you, it’s a time to simply relax, catch up on sleep and take it easy. Either way, most people view their vacation as a time to unwind, recharge and escape work and the daily stresses of life.
However, the reality is that far to many vacations end with vacationers feeling even more stressed and exhausted than they did before going on vacation.
How is this possible?
A common misconception people have as it relates to vacation is that you must make the most of your trip. And in an effort to make the most of the trip, you end up doing “the most.”
While you do want to make the most of your time away–especially when visiting exotic locations–you don’t want to over-pack your schedule and overwhelm yourself with busyness. Your vacation shouldn’t end with more stress and less rest.
Here are a few of the most common vacation mistakes you should work to avoid:
You have been wanting to visit Italy for the longest time and you finally have two-weeks and enough cash to do so. You methodical research every blog and travel website available and find the top 101 places to visit while in Italy. You pack 98 of those suggestions into your itinerary.
Your vacation days begin early in the morning and end in the wee hours of the following morning. Every day you wake up early, go to sleep late and are walking or running around the entire day…
Another mistake you made is booking the first flight available, which left at the butt-crack of dawn. And then you’ve planned to catch the very the last flight home and only give yourself a couple hours to spare before heading to work the next day…
You return to work an exhausted, frazzled and unproductive mess.
The saying, “if you didn’t post about it, did it ever really happen,” drives our current culture to document and share EVERYTHING.
Soooo, in an effort to prove you had the time of your life in Italy, you Instagram all your meals, snap chat every moment of your time on every tour and check into and post every “it” spot on Facebook. You wind up spending more time taking the perfect selfie at every stop than you do actually participating in the activities.
During your vacation, you are constantly checking and responding to work emails and completing tasks. Not only are you ruining your vacation, you’re ruining the trip for your companions as well. You are not fully present. You are failing to live in the moment and continue perpetuating the very stress you are trying to escape!
You also spend copious amounts of time snap-chatting, facebooking and Instagramming– showing off for all of your friends and followers– and miss so many beautiful moments. Because you’ve bought into the “if you didn’t post it, it didn’t happen” mentality you end up overbooked and sacrifice the quality of the trip for the quantity of posts you make.
Your intent was to take a break and to relax and recharge but you’ve decided to hike Mount Etna and participate in a marathon during your trip. You don’t sleep in, go to the spa or spend time taking in and enjoying the serenity and calm nature provides. You’ve neglected to include any tranquil activities in your itinerary.
You are mentally drained and have completely counteracted your unwinding process.
Learning to appreciate time away from life and adulting is the first key to actually enjoying your vacation. You have to be intentional. If you need a chance to unwind, you must ensure that the planning process and your choice of activities align with your goal.
You shouldn’t feel overwhelmed with planning and trying to create the perfect vacation. It’s a great idea to enjoy the recommended hot spots, attractions, restaurants and activities, but understand and accept that there will be more activities than you have time for–don’t try to do it all.
Plan a vacation that provides you flexibility. Eliminating the pressure of having to do it all will leave you feeling refreshed and motivated when it comes time to head back to work. You will perform better, be more productive and combat feelings of fatigue and burnout.
If the purpose of your time away is to recharge, don’t over-crowd your schedule with late night and early morning activities. Make sure you rest and get plenty of sleep. It’s okay to schedule a lazy day during your vacation where you can sleep in and not be bound to an itinerary.
On the other hand, if you are an adrenaline junky and need copious amounts of action and adventure in your life to help you de-stress–you definitely need to plan accordingly. A tranquil few days at a quite resort would drive you bonkers and leave you restless and bored. Plan something that gets your heart racing and leaves you feeling rejuvenated and revived.
It’s always a good idea to give yourself a full day to recoup before returning to work after a vacation. This allows your body and mind to adjust to being back home and get back into the groove of your work routine.
Coming home at least a day before going back to work also allows you to settle in, unpack and do some catching up with work before going back into the office. This gives you room to breathe and reduces the anxiety and stress associated with the impending workload.
The purpose of a vacation is to relax and enjoy yourself. So when you finally get to take that trip you’ve been looking forward to, take your time and work to be completely present during every experience.
Take a break from social media. If you can’t eliminate it altogether, set limits on the number of posts and time you will spend on social media. Allow some portions of your trip to be sacred and keep some experiences private–shared only between you and the ones you are with.
Accept the fact that there will always be more to see and do than you can possibly fit in your vacation. Relax and have fun.