Ever feel stuck in a vacationing rut? Maybe you try out different places, but they all kind of seem kind of the same. Perhaps you find the planning exhausting. Maybe you feel stressed out over small details and lose inspiration. Perhaps you cram your vacation schedule and come home more exhausted than when you left, needing a vacation from the vacation. Maybe you bring work with you on a trip, even when you tell yourself you won’t, and end up sacrificing precious vacation time. Whatever the reason may be, sometimes it’s hard to enjoy a vacation fully. To help out, here are five secrets to becoming a Zen master of vacationing and boost the joy of your next trip.

Move a little bit every day you’re on holiday, especially if your job is the kind that has you sitting at a desk all day long.

Get moving every day you’re on vacation, especially if you have a desk job

This doesn’t have to mean getting all sweaty at the hotel’s gym. It’s more about doing what your body and brain want you to do, which is to move around a bit. 

Lounging is excellent, and there should be plenty of time for lounging during your holiday. But only lounging for days on end can have an ironic de-energizing effect on the body. This is why work can be so exhausting, even though you really just sat at a desk all day.

Whatever your mobility or fitness level, choose a daily activity that serves as a spark of activity. Some ideas include walking, swimming in the ocean, a bike ride, playing with the kids, sunrise yoga, or stretching. 

If you have physical limitations, plan ahead and find walker- or wheelchair-friendly spaces to explore, even if it’s just for 20 minutes each day. 

Activity helps boost the body’s ability to fully relax and soak up the restorative value of vacationing.

Get present to real, peaceful, natural beauty.

Take some time for the beauty of nature

You might not be the camping type, the sporty type, or even the outdoorsy type. All of that is 100% okay! You don’t have to hike the Grand Canyon to sit in total awe of it.
Even the biggest, loudest city has peaceful places to just be in the presence of natural beauty. If the weather’s nice and you have the option, sit outside for your meal or pack a picnic. Just soak in your surroundings and the view; pay attention to light, sounds, sensations, and smells.

Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, a senior adviser, and business author, recently wrote in the Harvard Business Review about a CEO friend of his who swore by intentional time in nature to up his business game: “Before retiring from the CEO role, John would try to take these breaks just before his global partners’ meetings because he found that his ideas, initiatives, and even speeches would become much more focused, rich, clear and powerful as a result—even though he didn’t spend any time actively working on them!” We really can’t underestimate the power of being in nature to bring out the best in our thinking and seeing.

Cultivate your appetite for “different.”

Cultivate an appetite for something different

This one can be a bit more challenging than ignoring work emails. 

It pays enormous dividends when it comes to creating vacations that are full, satisfying, and memorable. This is less about booking some extreme trip and more about being willing to approach every trip as a learning experience. 

To be open to the possibility that every vacation can actually make you a better person. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Seek out conversations with interesting strangers. 
  • Learn some phrases in a new language and practice them and see what happens. 
  • Try new foods. 
  • Take in a performance that features local music or dance. 
  • Take the risk of not knowing and being willing to ask. 

As Fernández-Aráoz observes, “The world’s most productive people are inquisitive and collaborative and constantly seek out new acquaintances and allies — even when they’re on vacation.”

Put your money into experiences, not things.

Put your money into experiences instead of things

Again, this one can be more challenging. We’re taught in our culture that having more stuff will make us happier, even though research has proven this over and over again to not be true. 

Vacations in and of themselves are experiences — so that’s one step in the right direction — and getting a few small things to remember your trip is certainly not a bad thing. But keep an eye out for ways to maximize your experience of each moment within your holiday. 

When the moment comes to choose things from the duty-free shop or souvenir shop, ask yourself what kinds of experiences you could buy that will be with you forever and that will continue to bring you happiness long after they’re over instead. Taking home experiences over things could be a great way to boost the joy on your next vacation.

If souvenirs are high on your list, find a local market instead of the box store to support local artists instead.

Objects rarely retain their value, but memories are valuable forever. 

Treat your vacation like a vocation.

Treat your vacation like a vocation

Notice there’s only one letter that separates the time you spend relaxing, re-energizing, and reconnecting and the thing you were born to do.

The word “vacation” comes from the base Latin “vacare,” which means “freedom from obligation and duty, release, to be free and at leisure.” The word “vocation” comes from the Latin “vocare,” which means “to call” — as in, your personal calling, your purpose, the thing that brings you deep joy and brings out the best in you and everyone around you.

Think of the joyful energy you would put into your calling.

The intention, the planning, the attention to detail.

Consider the other word we frequently use for vacation — “holiday” — and note that it means “holy day.”

It’s okay to approach your upcoming trip as something that can hold a bit of magic because it just might. As Fernández-Aráoz writes, your vacation can be the thing that actually brings you back better than you were before — better for yourself, your family and friends, your work, your life. Approaching vacation as a vocation could be the best way to boost the joy on your next trip.

Ready to get maximum enjoyment out of a vacation? 

If you’re looking for ways to maximize your enjoyment on vacation, but you’re not quite sure how to get there, Awaken Travels would love to help! Reach out today, and let’s get planning! If planning stresses you out, we can de-stress the entire process. We love this work and can help connect you with the places and experiences that will stay with you for a lifetime.

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