Stay Stress Free While on Vacation

hammockWouldn’t it be great if we could laze all day in the sun, linger in one tourist attraction to another, and really enjoy slow travel?  Rushing from one must-see spot to another is one sure way to pile on stress while you are supposed to be free from it.  And yet, it happens.

The things you do before and after your vacation spell a difference between a relaxing break and a frenzied one.  So before you go, plan:  why, where, when, how long.

Planning is not a surefire defense against unmet expectations.  It just gives you a sense of control to something that excites and makes you prone to wander.  Unless you’ve intentionally sought out to get lost in the Mongolian desert, going from A to B should not be left to chance.

Schedule your vacation during the least busy part of your company’s business cycle.  That way, you’ll have enough wiggle room to spread your wings and fly out of the cubicle, even for a while.

You may do better with off-season getaways, except when you deliberately seek out crowds to party hard.  Chances are, you’ll run into less traffic, stand in shorter lines, get better deals and perhaps, have the resort all to yourself!

But before you pack your things, you have to be realistic with what you hope to achieve from taking time out.  Deciding beforehand what you intend to do can mean saying no to all-night party and yes to all-day spa.

Mental baggage is dead weight when you’re on holiday.  So pre-departure, make sure you have left your home safe and secure.  Make a list, and check it twice.  Ditto for what to pack.

Once you’re there, keep an open mind.  Have a ready smile for every Johnny Raincloud you meet.  You can’t always get what you want, and that is often true when you are (especially when you are) on vacation.  What looked like a breathtaking ocean view suite on the brochure may turn out to be a cramped veranda overlooking a pond.

Anticipate that you may meet insistent peddlers of services and activities that you don’t need.  Don’t be bullied into a sunset cruise by vendors over-eager to earn their commissions.  Be aware that some vacation spots have enterprising locals who would create inconvenience for tourists so they could sell their “solutions.”  Graciously step aside.  Know beforehand what you are willing to buy.  Then shake your head and smile as you move along.

Make a conscious choice to slow down.  Savor.  Stop and look.  Close your eyes, and listen.  While you’re at it, enjoy a session of massage or facial.  Nothing beats a good night’s rest after being pummeled into relaxation.

It is important that you have room for unplanned days. While it is your moral imperative to visit the destination’s must-see 1,000 year old Gothic architecture, you have to keep in mind why you were there in the first place.  It is very tempting to choke your schedule with all the “musts,” but at some point you have to decide whether you love to see the places so much that you’re willing to relinquish your neat vacation to the magnet of tourist attractions.

Your free days are cushions, just in case something once-in-a-lifetime pops up.  Deliberately choose to empty your days and simply laze about.  Remember the movie?  Italians call it the sweetness of doing nothing.  You’ll find it true, once you’ve developed taste for it.

You will be in a better frame of mind to clock back in to work if you’ve taken the time to unpack and shake off the jet lag. A couple of buffer days before you’re due to work create psychological distance between fantasy (your vacation) and reality (work). Yes, you could have spent one more day at the Italian Riviera, but you’ll likely be spent once you get home and cram into your business suit.  The post-trip tranquility should allow you to sit back, put your tired feet up, and remind yourself that indeed, you’ve been on vacation.