We all fully understand that vacations are supposed to revitalize and refresh our overtaxed brain and body. The problem is that sometimes vacations can be as stressful as work. Ever utter the phrase "I need a vacation from my vacation"? I cant count the number of times I came home from vacation more tired than when I left. If this is you, you desperately need to change your vacation style.
Heading out on vacation next month? Here are a few quick, simple and not so obvious tips that should leave you smiling on your return:
- Imagine you are 12 again - I fondly remember a few vacations when I was 12 or so. The whole world was in front of us ready to be conquered. What type of activities would make you feel that way again?
- Don't move too often - The idea of seeing everything we can when in Europe (you too can visit 7 countries in 4 days) involves a lot of time traveling, checking in/out of hotels and packing. Find a nice balance that removes stupid time. Quality over quantity.
- Keep travel time to a minimum - This is the close cousin to the above, but the most stressful aspect of vacation is often the travel time. Ask me about the time my 3 year old fell and cut open his head on an air vent while playing in O'Hare on a flight delay while under my care and not his mother who was having a beer at the bar.
- Do something new - Most of us try and clear our brain only to find that our moment of Zen has been filled with thoughts of work. Instead, try an activity that is new & fun that leaves no room for business to creep back in.
- Avoid the typical destinations - Many great vacations are not the obvious destinations. Don't be afraid to run counter to the crowd. These places can be less stressful with less people, less travel time and better on the wallet.
- Connect with friends or family - The operative word is connect. Be curious what is going on in their lives. Find activities that you can enjoy together.
- Plan meals beforehand - The second most stressful aspect of vacations is figuring out your meals. Try and plan ahead to avoid the protracted destination negotiation that makes my head explode. This is vitally important when with other families. Next time, plan a few weeks in advance with everyone and make it a fun exercise.
- Do work, 15 minutes per day - The idea of completely ignoring work and getting off the grid is actually more stressful than the alternative of actually working. The compromise, allocate 15 minutes (first thing in morning or around 5pm) to checking email or making a phone call in to the office. Everyone is satisfied and it checks the box.
- Finish strong - I like the last few days to be spent doing the things I enjoy the most. This gives me something to look forward to all week as well as sets a tone for heading back to work.
- Tell your inner story - I wrote last week about learning to tell your story. Vacations are no exception. Build and memorialize the memories through storytelling with your family, friends and coworkers. This inner storytelling will leave you with a fund, fresh perspective that will carry with you, until the next vacation of course.
Vacations can be less stressful and turn out to be some of the highlights of your life for you and your family. With just a few tweaks here and there, you can turn a burden into a strength.