Sunday, October 23, 2011

Vacation Tips for those Who Do Too Much (An Illustrated Guide)

I used to have a hard time taking vacations. I was constantly thinking about the things I wasn't doing for work, for school, around the house, etc. While I should have been walking on the beach, I was thinking about the essays that needed to be graded. While I should have been dancing with my husband, I was checking email to make sure I didn't miss anything important from the office. While I should have been zoned out watching mindless television as we lounged around the hotel, I was thinking about the floors I'd need to vacuum and the groceries I'd need to buy when I got home.

That's no fun, and I had to stop.

I'm writing this in the early morning on my last day of a short fall vacation. The rest of my family is still asleep, and it has given me some time to think about my vacation evolution. Here, with some illustrative pictures of my lovely daughter, are some tips for anyone else who's having trouble letting go long enough to relax.

Enjoy the Ride

I used to think of the time it took to get to my vacation spot (plane, car, whatever) as wasted time. Here was this huge chunk of my "free time" that I had to spend doing nothing.

Learning to appreciate this time was an important part of enjoying vacations. Yes, I could fret about the 12-hour drive and think about all of the papers I could have graded in that time, but fretting doesn't get papers graded and it does make you miss the sights outside of the windows, the inside jokes you can create with your travel mates, and the moments of reflection you can have in a space where your focus is both restricted (less stimulus) and free (fewer requirements).

Try New Things
Again, in the interest of not "wasting" any time, I used to be reluctant to try new things on vacation. What if I didn't like them? Then all of that time was wasted! But, as you probably know, that is a ridiculous way to approach life. Even the things I've tried and hated have left me with a story and a memory.

Here's my daughter experiencing the beach for the first time. She tried lots of new things: holding sand, throwing sand, eating sand, burying feet, unburying feet . . .

Go Along for the Ride
Planning exhausts me. Feeling responsible for making every moment of the trip "productive" and fun for everyone is tiring and makes it no fun for me. I had to learn to let some of that go and just enjoy the trip, let someone else do some of the planning or--and this was tough for me--let no one do any planning at all. The day will still happen! It's amazing!

Here's my daughter going along for the ride while I do some of the heavy lifting.

Have Fun! (Even with the simple things)
We went to this park with huge interactive playgrounds and things to climb on. What did my daughter enjoy most? Playing with a bunch of tiny pumpkins. Seriously, she would have done this all day long. Vacation is a great time to remember the joy in simplicity.


Sometimes I need a reminder to take a break. I've started scheduling shorter, more frequent vacations so that I get those reminders. Living life at a break-neck pace only appears to get you there faster. And where's "there" anyway? Remember to rest. 

1 comment:

  1. Great tips!

    And she is adorable. I love that sleeping shot. I admire the abandon with which kids sleep. They are totally into it.