3 Lessons for a Better Vacation

Will with a mermaid on vacation
From our vacation we just returned
And this is what I learned

1) Expect what is in you to come out

All of my life I've heard it: "You need to balance" and "Strive toward the Golden Mean" and "Look for synthesis." And I stink at all of it. I work too had and eat too much and exercise too little. And vacation is no escape from this trend.

What tends to happen for me is that vacation time levels things out. A few years ago, I spend a lot of our vacation sleeping. I had been cutting corners on sleep and my body needed it. When I slowed down for vacation, my body took what it needed ... and I crashed.

This year, I noticed this trend again. All year, I've been spending more and more time on the computer, reading blogs and writing. All year, I've been spending more time on social media. All year, I've been reading books at a breakneck pace. When I slowed down for vacation - we were in a place with poor internet reception for 9 days - I felt as if a huge gap opened up in my life. Input. Input. Input. Emptiness. Could this be healthy?

If you want to have a better vacation, expect what is in you to come out. If you know you've been moving at a million miles an hour, plan time to rest. If you know you've been spending too little time at the gym, give yourself room to exercise. If you know you've been spending too little time with your family, make sure you plan in such a way that you get lots of time with them. Compensate. Re-balance.

Wherever you go, there you are. You can't escape yourself. Don't pretend that you can.

2) Think about the one-sentence summary

This is great advice that Andy Stanley gives people. It also shows up in Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath. Here it is:
How will you describe this vacation 10 years from now?
Having that in mind makes a big difference when trying to pull together a vacation. It doesn't have to be perfect and no one is going to remember every little detail. From our vacation last year, we remember that we stayed on a horse farm near the beach, rode a golf cart and spent time with some of our best friends in the world. A year out, I also remember that the house we were in was a double-wide and that the beach was a long way from the house and that I pitched a fit when we found out these two facts upon arrival. But 10 years from now I won't remember any of that. All I'll remember are the horses and the golf cart and our friends.

You've heard it said: "The perfect is the enemy of the good." Well, I think we can also say: "The perfect is the enemy of the vacation." Don't try to hit perfect. And don't try to cram too much into a vacation. The truth is, 10 years from now, that whole vacation will be summed up in one-sentence.

We stayed at a hotel and had room service and Dad was with us when he wasn't working.
We went on a houseboat trip with a bunch of people from Dad's work.
We spent a week at the lake with our friends.
We swam and drove the golf cart looking for bunny rabbits.
We stayed with horses and drove a golf cart with our friends.

The thing all those vacations have in common: "We."

3) Learn from your vacation experience

Take some time after your vacation to debrief.

What was memorable?
What was restorative?
What was fun?
What was difficult?
What do you wish you would have done differently?
What are you glad you did?

Try new things. Hone in on what works for you. It's so easy to be unthinking about vacation, to slide into a rut, to repeat the same mistakes over and over and over again.

Amy and I learned something over the last few years of vacations. Leaving for vacation stresses me out. You can attribute it to childhood vacation trauma or my generalized fear of taking a vacation, but I hate the moment when we get out the door. I hate to be rushed when we're leaving for vacation. Amy, on the other hand, is ready to get out the door early and get moving. This has led to lots of conflict. But we learned. And somehow, this year, we had a smooth start.

What have you learned about taking vacations?

No comments:

Post a Comment