Let's face it. A lot of us come back from vacation exhausted. Sure the kids had some fun, you saw her family and the box has been checked until next year. Yet don't you often wonder wonder, "Was it worth it?" Vacation can be a lot of work and the more people you go with, the more work it takes. Sometimes it's physical work, but other times it is emotional because of the stress it causes you to leave work or the emotional effort of the children and/or people you take with you. All of it leaves you wondering if you should have gone to begin with. Isn't that why people invented the "staycation"? However, rest and getting away is good for the soul and an investment worth fighting for, so I offer you 12 suggestions to help you take your vacation back. You can't control how your 13 year-old is going to react to her little brother on the road trip to the Grand Canyon. Who knows what your mother-in-law will say when she finds out you're changing careers. No one can say if the pet-sitter will eat all your favorite cookies. The only person you can control is yourself. But your choice can be the difference-maker for you and your whole crew when it comes to having a vacation that was worth the effort.
Try these 12 suggestions and see if they don't help you make significant strides towards a better vacation. A vacation 2.0.
- Unplug. If you can't let go of work and everything else back home, then you'll only be halfway present. Commit to letting go and powering down. You, your home, and yes, even your work will be better for it.
- Change your mental gears carefully. When we switch from a fast-paced scheduled environment to the free flow and probably kid-filled world of vacation, we have to make a conscious choice to be patient and not lose our temper.
- It's still not about you. When we force life to be about us, we always lose.
- Do something! Don't waste your vacation sitting around watching a screen. Jump in the pool. Take a walk. Swing a club. Just do something fun.
- Take someone with you. If you don't have a family, take a friend with you. Life is always better together.
- Make space. This may be the best piece of advice on the list. When you go on vacation, make space to spend time talking to God. If you're still figuring out what you believe about God, take a book like, "The Case for Faith" with you. You'll be glad you did if for no other reason than it gave you something new to talk about with others.
- Say yes to adventure! The best memories are the ones that stretched us. Go white water rafting. Shoot a gun. Get on the roller coaster and taste some adventure.
- Ignore the "Debbie-downers". There's always somebody complaining on vacation. Don't allow them to ruin it for you.
- Let go of the pressure to have a spectacular time. In my experience, the more you feel like you HAVE to achieve that mountaintop experience, the LESS likely you are to have one.
- Ask the question "What does my heart need?" Then ask "Why?". Vacation gives you not only a chance to refresh your heart, but also a glimpse at what you might need to experience the other 51 weeks of the year.
- Plan your re-entry at the very end. If you start thinking about everything you have to do when you get back too early, you'll ruin the time you have left. Leave yourself 30 to 60 minutes on the last day to talk and figure out what needs to happen and when.
- Post it afterwards. The best photos are the ones you didn't take, they're the ones you just enjoyed. Don't worry about letting everyone else experience the amazing photography of your trip. Just enjoy it yourself!
Now, get out there and enjoy your best vacation ever.