Utilizing your vacation days and taking a real vacation is critical for your mental and physical well-being. Numerous studies have demonstrated that taking a break from your everyday life (whatever that life might be) reduces risk of developing heart disease, lowers your blood pressure, helps with weight loss, increases your productivity, and makes you a better person all around.

Additionally, some evidence shows that these benefits persist for months after you return from the vacation. How about that? Well, ideally, you would go for your next vacation when effects of your previous one wears off. Think about it.

However, this is sadly not the case with many employed people around the world, and especially in the US. The Expedia started doing survey all the way in 2005 and is doing it ever since, yearly (you can find results here, it’s called aptly ‘Vacation Deprivation’) and results are not great. In the results from 2016, the US workers missed approx. 375 million paid vacation days, and 25% consider themselves to be “extremely vacation-deprived.”

Are you taking a real vacation - work from home
Working from home during pandemic completely removed life/work balance

With COVID-19 pandemic going on now for more than a year, work/life balance is practically non-existent both because of massive work from home arrangements and inability to take proper vacation. Fortunately, results from 2021 survey look a bit better, but this can be attributed to people’s craving for having proper holidays after pandemic.

OK, that was all doom and gloom, but let’s look at the bright side. Let’s look forward to some downtime and recreation? Consider the following suggestions for filling your vacation days with enjoyable and meaningful activities, from start to finish.

How to plan a truly wonderful vacation, meaning, how to have a real vacation?

Often, planning a vacation is more enjoyable than the experience itself. After all, you’re probably looking forward to romantic dinners and stunning scenery, not lost luggage and rainy days (but we are being negative again, sorry).

Begin having fun even before you arrive at your vacation destination(s):

  1. Do your homework. Avoid unpleasant surprises by gathering information prior to leaving home. Consult online reviews to learn what previous guests have to say about the exotic resort or hotel in question. Confirm the most recent airline regulations and rules and travel regulations, especially for COVID-19.
  2. Ease up. When you add vacation planning to your other responsibilities, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Allow enough time and approach it as a game to locate the lowest prices or most unusual sights, not as a report deadline at work.
  3. Let everybody join. Dividing the workload is a surefire way to reduce it. Assign tasks to each family member based on their age and abilities. You will be surprised how many ideas kids have for vacation (a hint: many). And you don’t want to drag kids to a vacation they will not like, no, you don’t want that.
  4. Make preparations for your return. How about making arrangements to ensure a smooth transition on your first day back? Attempt to postpone any significant meetings for at least a few days after you return to work. You can also avoid cooking and cleaning, order dinner from your favorite restaurant. And don’t get back to your hoe projects right away, they can wait for couple of days. Make vacation slowly blend into your every day life, don’t have a sharp switch, you might turn being more stressed than when you left.
  5. Develop a habit out of it. Frequent breaks are more likely to make you happy than a single extended stay. If you’re having difficulty getting away for extended periods of time, take advantage of holiday weekends. There is an increase in demand for city break holiday packages, where you visit a city for 2-4 days, which is good enough to explore it, learn about it and relax, and not get bored.
Relaxed people have relaxed vacations
Relaxed people have relaxed vacations

How to have a truly relaxing vacation, meaning how to have real vacation?

While taking time off is a good start, it’s critical to know how to spend your leisure time so that your vacation relaxes you rather than stresses you out even more.

Consider the following suggestions to improve your chances of having a positive experience:

  1. Recognize your workstyle. Checking in with the office is acceptable if it gives you a sense of security. On the other hand, inform your colleagues if you prefer to remain offline. Being dragged back into work mindset while away (without urgent need or reason) can ruin your holiday and you won’t be vacationing but working from exotic destination (which you paid for).
  2. Stimulate your imagination. Travel expands one’s horizons and alters one’s perspective. Investigate new customs and cuisines for inspiration. Immerse yourself into a local culture and disconnect from your non-vacation life. Only then you will be fully relaxed.
  3. Develop relationships with others. Vacations with the family and friends foster shared memories that bring loved ones closer together. Additionally, you can spend vacation time visiting friends and relatives who you see infrequently. This will add additional positive element into your time off.
  4. Maintain a healthy diet. Maintaining a healthy diet can be more difficult when dining out. Select dishes that are abundant in vegetables, fruit, fish, and other nutritious proteins. Purchase nutritious snacks, such as Greek yogurt, to store in your hotel refrigerator, for an example. It will be difficult to resist some foreign cuisine and drinks, but in moderation.
  5. Remain present. Instead of rushing from one attraction to the next, savor an evening watching a sunset on the beach or an afternoon shopping at a bazaar. At times, set your camera aside and take in your surroundings. Savor the time as it goes and don’t think about past or a future, stay in the moment.
  6. Engage in an adventure. Whether you fly across the world or stay in town, shake up your usual routine. Experiment with something new by participating in a physically demanding sport or greeting others in a foreign language. This sounds like cliché but go to the off beaten tracks (but not too far, you need to come back to your accommodation at some point).
  7. Stay positive. Here goes another cliché, stay positive. This is easy to say when your vacation is great, but when you experience lost luggage, rainy day in summer or any other inconvenience during your hard-earned vacation, it is very difficult to stay positive easily. Well, our suggestion is to turn everything upside down – lost luggage? Make a plan for emergency shopping while learning about the city; unexpected rain? Wait until it stops or simply go out (unless it is Canada in winter); the city is not what you expected? Make jokes about what you observe and think about review you will leave online somewhere.
Stay positive
Stay positive

Conclusion

So, how many vacation days have you accumulated? When was a last time you had real vacation? Allowing yourself a little time off can have a positive effect both on your health and career. Plan a real vacation that will leave you feeling revitalized and renewed. Start planning now. Here are some destinations to keep you inspired. Safe travels!

This article was originally published on our parent website, gotravelyourself.com

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