I have a couple of questions for you to ponder as you start winding down 2019 and begin making plans for the new year. Did you take a proper vacation within the last 12 months, and if so, was it truly relaxing and fulfilling?
According to Allianz Global’s 11th annual “Vacation Confidence Index” survey:
- 36 percent of Americans took their last vacation more than two years ago.
- More than half (at 51 percent) haven’t taken a trip in a full year.
- Just 42 percent of survey respondents said they would take a summer vacation this year – the lowest percentage since 2013.
I’m begging you, please resolve to not be a part of these statistics. Vacations are important for your mental health and well being, plus time away from work actually helps improve productivity. So if you’re not vacationing enough, or the vacations you do take leave you feeling more stressed and exhausted, then it’s time to plan an intentional vacation in 2020.
Being intentional requires understanding that your attitudes, feelings, thoughts, and actions (conscious and unconscious) directly impact your experiences.
Therefore, taking an intentional vacation means that you’ll be mindful during every stage of your journey, including the planning process, the trip itself, and when you return home. To be sure, traveling intentionally is very different from the often frantic, tightly scheduled and over-stimulating treks so many of us have experienced.
Get ready to have the time of your life with these intentional vacation tips that’ll help make your journey more fulfilling, inspiring and meaningful.
1. Avoid Too Much Planning
If you’ve ever been on a vacation that included hour-by-hour itineraries and over-ambitious schedules, then you know how dizzying that can be. Shoot for a happy medium when it comes to planning – not too much, and not too little. Create a list of all the things you’d like to do and places you want to see once you choose your destination. Next, prioritize your list and organize items by location. Take a look at your top picks, and plan one or two things each day, reserving the rest of the day for relaxation or spontaneous exploration.
2. Know Your Purpose
Take some time to quiet your mind and think about what it is you want from your next vacation. Your purpose or goal is for you to decide, and can be simple or very specific. Once you know, plan a vacation that is geared toward fulfilling that purpose.
In other words, if you’re suffering from burnout and need some serious downtime, don’t blindly commit to a family vacation at Disney World. If you need to reconnect with a spouse or partner, don’t invite six other couples to come along. You get the picture.
3. Strive For Balance
Intentional vacations combine the best of two worlds: relaxation and adventure. In order to find a good balance between the two, consider the following areas:
Self-Care. What are your personal needs, and how can you fulfill them on your trip?
Cultural Experiences. Immerse yourself in local life by finding restaurants, hangouts and other places that aren’t typical tourist spots. Be brave, get out of your comfort zone and off the beaten path.
Relationships. Think about ways you can grow and strengthen relationships with those you’ll be with, whether it’s your host, travel companion, family members or even yourself.
Adventure. Do something physically exciting, new or different – something that will get your adrenaline pumping. (Here’s one way you can do that now!)
4. Enjoy Every Moment
The idea of going on vacation is thrilling, but there are elements of the process that can quickly become stressful and overwhelming. By mindfully breaking your trip down into smaller parts, you can find joy with every stage.
Before You Go. Build excitement and anticipation by watching movies and videos about your destination. Research the culture, prepare packing lists, interact on travel website message boards, or reach out on social media sites for advice or ideas.
The first leg. It’s exciting to arrive in a new location, but try not to overdo it on your first day. Get settled in at your accommodations, acclimate yourself to the environment, and let yourself rest – especially if you’ve crossed time zones.
Go get ‘em. Once you’ve allowed your mind and body to recharge, get out there and explore. Start knocking off an item or two from your list each day, embrace adventure and have some spontaneous fun.
Don’t forget to breathe. Avoid getting caught up in the notion that you must “get your money’s worth,” or that you “can’t waste a single minute” while you’re there. Remember, it’s about balancing adventure with relaxation and focusing on a purpose. Set aside time to slow down, chill out and savor the moment – especially near the end of your journey.
Coming home. Ward off those typical back-to-reality blues by purposefully taking time to reflect on your experience. Scroll through and enjoy all those photos you took, make a photo book, or share stories with family and friends. Revisit all the things you learned about yourself and others, and apply those lessons to your everyday life.
Traveling with intention will allow you to experience a heightened sense of your surroundings and be fully present. It can transform your next vacation from ordinary to extraordinary.
Have You Taken An Intentional Vacation?
Have you mindfully planned a vacation and traveled with intention? We’d love to hear about it. Tell us your story, including any suggestions or additional tips you want to share, along with any big lessons you learned. Leave your comments below.
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