We’ve all been there. You have a week off from work and you’ve planned an awesome vacation! Whether you’re traveling near or far, chances are this is your one big opportunity for a vacation- possibly for the entire year. So obviously you want to MAKE.IT.COUNT, am I right? Well if you’re anything like me, this means cramming in every possible event, excursion, visit, or experience that you possibly can. But this always comes with a price. I usually get home late Sunday night and have to work on Monday. I haven’t had time to unpack, let alone sleep. And while I undoubtedly had an awesome time, I also did not have any time to relax. So instead of coming back from vacation feeling refreshed and ready to get back into the swing of things, I come back feeling even more exhausted than when I left. And now that my vacation is over, I don’t even have anything to look forward to to get me through the long day except for daydreaming about my bed and counting down the hours until I’m laying in it asleep.

I’ve had that experience more times than I’d care to admit and every time I promise myself that next time I’ll plan a RELAXING vacation. But as a self proclaimed extreme A type personality, I’ll be the first to admit- relaxing is not my strong suit! Does any of this sound familiar? Well from one too-busy-to-relax friend to another, here are the 5 things I’ve found that actually have started to make my vacations more relaxing and refreshing!

  1. Don’t over plan. Seriously. Now I know what you’re thinking- “I’ve travelled all the way to insert-awesome-vacation-destination-here and I want to do ALL.THE.THINGS. This may be my only chance to visit and I don’t want to miss anything!” I hear you. Really, I do. But trust me- if you plan to do multiple things every day you are going to return home feeling tired and needing another vacation. My advice is to stick with 1-2 big activities per day and to vary the time of day for each. For example, if you’re in Hawaii and you want to go snorkeling, hiking, whale watching, and see a luau, plan to go snorkeling in the morning one day and to a luau that night. But then but then don’t plan anything to start until after noon the next day.
  2. Plan relaxation time. This directly ties in to the first point. On the day you plan to go snorkeling in the morning and to a luau in the evening, plan to just relax in the time between those two events. This way if snorkeling runs longer, you won’t be stressing out about rushing to the next thing or missing the start of whatever ese you have planned next. You also will have a break in your day to unwind and this will allow you to feel ready to go to the luau with new energy so you can actually enjoy your time. Similarly, since you didn’t plan anything to start early the next day, you can sleep in (if that’s your thing- I know some people actually like the morning time so if you do, more power to you!) or get up early and go outside to enjoy the different scenery as you sip your coffee and just relax. If you have kiddos that wake up early and you’re with your spouse or other family members, try taking turns with the kids to give each other a relaxing morning at least once while you’re on your vacation.
  3. Throw away the schedule. Ok so this one might not work for everyone depending on what kind of vacation you’re on- there are certainly things that happen only a few times a day or on certain days that you don’t want to miss. But pick at least one day to go without a schedule. Wake up and see where the day takes you. Take a walk and discover your surroundings. If you stumble across a cool opportunity, take it! You don’t have a schedule for the day so you can do as much or as little as you want! Surf lessons on the ocean? Why not?! Yoga class on the beach? I’ll take it! Sipping margs on the beach? ABSOLUTELY.
  4. Find out what the locals do. Yes, you may be a tourist, but that doesn’t mean you can only do “touristy” things! Make friends with some locals at the beach or a bar and find out what they enjoy in your destination. Often times these things are not on strict timetables and can therefore be more relaxing than maintaining your tight touristing schedule. Maybe they can recommend a beautiful waterfall hike or a scenic drive. Maybe they know a great little place to eat that isn’t highlighted in your tourist book (does anyone besides me still use books? Anyone…..?) Like you said before, you may only be there once- so take the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture for an afternoon!
  5. Just say no. And stop feeling guilty about it. You really don’t have to do EVERYTHING on your vacation, even if you’re never going to be there ever again. It seems like we’ve lost sight of the fact that vacations are supposed to be a time out from our daily grind and yet we often treat them no differently. So if you’re a planner like me, use this to your advantage! Start by making a list of all of the things you want to do and then look at how many days you have available. Now pair down the list to fit your trip length. If you’re traveling with family, make sure to include the big important things that you all consider to be most important. Those are the things to focus on most. Then save the other things for spontaneous activities throughout the trip if you can get to them. But if you can’t, then just let them go. It really will be ok! And you’ll actually have the time to truly enjoy the things that were your top priorities!
  6. Come home a day early. If you can afford the vacation time, DO IT! Not only does it give you a day to unwind and unpack, but mentally it also eases the feeling of dread about going back to work. I know for me one of the reasons going back to work seems so painful is that I feel like my life is in disarray after vacation- there is so much to do between laundry, grocery shopping, unpacking, and oh yea- sleeping! Giving yourself a buffer will make a huge difference and will not leave you feeling like taking a vacation was a huge mistake.

You’ll be surprised that by just incorporating these few principles you’ll be able to transform your next trip from a hectic, stressful fiasco to a relaxing, rejuvenating vacation! So where are you planning to vacation next? Let me know so I can live vicariously through you!

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  1. I definitely need to work on this. I fail at relaxing and book our TRIps full of activities. I only HAVe my sister’s bachelorette party planned near TORCh lake and college friends trip to south haven this summer. Those should hopeful be relaxing? We are DOING Disney the first week in December!! So excited.

    1. That will be so much fun! Even if you just plan one hour as “relaxing time” you can still feel refreshed! Can’t wait to hear more about your trips!

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