How to Actually Rest (but still do stuff) While on a Vacation
I absolutely love to relax on vacation. After surveying other friends and family members, I realized that many people don’t really know how to fit in getting some rest while traveling. As a result, they don’t really want to travel because they just feel tired at the end of vacation, and then they are tired when they go back to work and their normal lives. Read on to find out my tips on how to actually relax while vacationing.
It’s easier than you think. Number five will blow your mind!!! (I put that in as a joke for my husband 🙂
Tip #1 – Get Some Sleep
This seems like a no-brainer, but the best way to rest on a vacation is to…get some rest.
Simple, right? All too often when people travel, they get into their heads that they must see and do everything in order to get their time and money’s worth. Sure, you want to get out and see the sights, experience the culture, and find adventure, but this is also your chance to stay up late, sleep in, and take a nap. Don’t miss that part!
Different time zones present another sleep related challenge for the vacationer with plans to relax. By the time you’ve adjusted to the new time zone, it’s time to go home, and then you’re messed up all over again.
We often to travel places with a three hour or more time difference. We never adjust all at once. The first day of vacation we set the alarm to make sure we still get 8 hours or more of sleep, or sometimes when we are really needing a break from our crazy day-to-day lives, we don’t even set an alarm. There is really no point in making you and your party miserable by not sleeping in. On a recent trip to NYC, which gave us a three hour later time change, we took a red eye, and slept for a few hours on the plane, then we checked in to our hotel early and slept another five hours before going out and exploring the city. We actually were out of the hotel by noon local time and still got a full day of sight-seeing in. If we would have pushed ourselves to go out as soon as we got to New York we would have been miserable, and the kids would have been even more miserable. Over the course of the next couple of days we fully adjusted to the time difference and had a lovely time. I know it may seem like you are cutting into your vacation tour, but it is worth sacrificing a couple hours here and there for sanity and relaxation.
Tip # 2 – Plan Some Things, Not All Things
When my husband and I sit down and plan out a vacation, we keep our itinerary super simple. We only plan, at the most, one thing to do a day, and sometimes we keep the day open completely. It’s important to plan some time into vacation to live spontaneously. That way we are not ruled by our schedule. Usually the only things we have planned in advance are our destination, hotel, rental car, and anything that requires advanced reservations. I go on Tripadvisor and Pinterest and save things that I want to see and do at a particular destination, so I don’t have to do research while I’m on my trip, but I know I won’t get to see everything. It gives me a reason to go back and visit again, but at the same time I am able to relax and not stress about making it to every activity I want to do on a trip. Leave the itinerary simple.
We found this place called Sleeping Giant State Park just by following our noses. We didn’t know we were going to go here until the day of the adventure. Leave time for those spontaneous moments!
Tip #3 – Bring Stuff for the Kiddos to Do, and Play With Them Too
I have heard people say bringing your kids on vacation is an added stress, but it doesn’t have to be if you plan in advance for the trip. I always go to the store and get some new activities for the kiddos to do. That way it is fresh and new. When they were younger, I would bring coloring books and maybe a new movie for their portable DVD players. Now I bring new books to read, activity books, and download some new apps for their tablets. Keeping it fresh for them allows them to do something while you are driving or when you are in the hotel and need to relax and have some downtime. Planning ahead for them helps you have a more relaxing and restful vacation while it is happening.
It’s also important to engage with them too. Don’t just let them play video games in the backseat the whole trip. Play some classic car games with them. Talk about where you are travelling, and have them follow along your trip on a map (a real paper one!). Listen to a book on tape together while you drive. Make sure to stop and let everyone get out and stretch once in a while. If the kids are relaxed, the parents will be relaxed too.
Tip # 4 – Unplug and Focus on the Moment
I am not going to lie to you and say we don’t go on the internet when we travel. I love preserving my digital memories through social media, but at the same time I do a few things that help me relax. I make sure all my finances and stressful projects are done ahead of vacation. That way I don’t have this underlying stress shrouding my vacation. As hard as it is to get your to do list done before the trip, make sure it is done before you go. Secondly, I log out of anything work related. I am a teacher and teaching is just one of those jobs that you constantly think about. I am always planning lessons in my head, or answering parent e-mails, or thinking about my students. That’s all fine and dandy when I am being paid to be there, but when I am on break I have to check out of anything work related. I let my friends and extended family know that I won’t be around for awhile as well and I tell them I may not answer back e-mails or text messages. Don’t worry, it will all be there waiting for you when you get back. You don’t need to stress about it. Although it may seem like the world may fall apart without you, it’s not going to. So relax, unplug, and leave the work stuff behind. Trust me, you won’t miss it.
Tip #5 – Don’t Just Be a Tourist
A lot of people think if they are going to a certain destination, they have to do all the famous things associated with that place. Although there are some “must do” things in certain destinations, don’t just make your trip about those Instagrammable moments. Do some everyday things as well. Take the kids to a local park, go see a movie you have been wanting to see, shop in a cool local store, go for a walk, visit a local museum, go grocery shopping (sometimes they have some really cool different food in different regions). People don’t necessarily think of these things as vacationing, but these are things we do in our day-to-day lives to relax and unwind.
On our most recent trip there was a huge snowstorm that prevented us from going on a hike we wanted to go on, so we went to the movies instead. It was pretty awesome. And as weird as it may seem, one of the best ways to take in the local culture, and to save money on food, is to go grocery shopping at a local grocery store. I have met all sorts of nice locals while shopping for food. We often go to places during the off season and the locals are always bewildered as to why we would want to come to their city or town. We always reassure them that they live in a really amazing place. They always seem to take pride in the fact we are vacationing in their hometown. It’s a fun, stress-free way to get to know an area and meet locals.
Well there you have it, a guide to relaxing on vacation. I Hope this helps some of you to get out there and take that vacation you have been wanting to take, with a little less anxiety. Remember, you shouldn’t have to take a vacation because you went on vacation!
Please let me know if there is anything you would like to know about budget family travel, and please feel free to share this post if it helped you in anyway.
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