I am filled with gratitude! I just returned from a week-long vacation with my husband and daughter in Oregon. We spent four days in Portland and three days out on the Oregon coast. Everything about this trip was magical. My husband, daughter and I got along great! We had new adventures every single day. The weather was perfect.
My gas tank is full again.
My soul is smiling.
I am breathing more deeply.
I feel satisfied, present, complete and in tune with the world around me.
But here’s the deal...my vacations have NOT always been this way. In the past, I’ve had horrible experiences with everything from travel delays and cancellations (try traveling with a name on your passport that doesn’t match the one on your driver’s license… yeah, Air Canada won’t let you do that!) to sickness (tummy troubles...need I say more) to major disagreements with my travel partners (which left everyone frustrated and unhappy).
I’ve had to learn the hard way that to have a good vacation requires planning and intention. But when you invest the time and energy, it makes it all worthwhile. Please, learn from my mistakes!
Here are your three smart self-care strategies for summer vacation success.
1. Build in exit and re-entry days.
This one is mission critical. Build in a cushion on the front end and the back end of your trip.
I used to work a full day the day before a trip, then would come home from work and pack until midnight, often having to get up at 5 am to catch a flight the next morning. It was always stressful, always exhausting and set me up for failure on the first day of my trip! Not good!
Then, when Eric and I got married, we had an amazing honeymoon on St. Martin and I returned to work full force the next day. Within 24 hours, I was sick, sick, sick with vomiting and diarrhea. Perhaps it was something I ate but I truly believe it was because my system was in such shock after such a lovely trip, it was literally bombarded with overwhelm and information (which can be toxic!) and my body said “No way! Reject! Reject!”
Now, we try to plan our trips so that we travel mid-week and then have one or two days on the weekend to recover – which really means doing things like grocery shop, mow the lawn, read the mail, etc. – before returning to our normal busy schedules. Re-entry is much gentler and kinder this way.
2. Ask for what you need.
Exercising your voice is the best way to get your needs met. This is true in everyday life and it’s true for vacation, too.
Before you head out on your trip, get really clear about what you want and need to feel that this is a successful vacation. Rest and relaxation? Time at the pool or beach? Sightseeing adventures? Delicious local food? Seeing every inch of Disney World? Invite each member of your party to contemplate this question and consider having a “family meeting” or similar to discuss expectations before the trip.
Then, when you are actually at your vacation destination, plan out each day so that it makes sense. You don’t have to have every hour scheduled but have a general sense of what you’d like to do and see and then be flexible within that loose framework. You’ll want to make accommodations for weather, traffic and other unexpected events so that it feels easy going and natural, not rushed or forced.
3. Maintain your normal self-care routine.
I can’t emphasize this point enough. Keep doing what you normally do! Eat well, sleep enough, get plenty of exercise. Too many people go on vacation and blow their diet and exercise routines, then come home and feel like they have to “catch up” or “make up” for “being bad”.
If you usually get up and go for a run in the morning or sip a cup of tea before everyone else gets up, do it on vacation too! If you eat uber-healthy at home with home cooked meals, try staying at a condo where you can prepare your own meals or research restaurants ahead of time to find as many farm to table ingredients as possible. (That was easy for us to do in Oregon – yum!)
Of course it’s OK to treat yourself on vacation, but overindulging just makes re-entry that much harder!
Revitalized Action: If you have a summer vacation coming up, print out this e-zine now and review it with your family today. Talk about how you want to make this vacation a memorable one and invite everyone to share their input. I’d love to hear any strategies you have in the comments below!
Here’s to smart self-care on your summer vacation!