Sounds counterintuitive I know, planning to relax. Afterall, a vacation is supposed to be “time off” and a reset for our overworked brains and bodies. And yet…doesn’t if often seem like we come back more tired physically than when we left?!
Often mentally we are able to recharge and refocus. But, physically, our bodies can be just as beaten up from a vacation as when we left. If not more so.
So, what can we do? First, let’s define the goal of the vacation - is it to:
- Recharge and relax?
- Visit family?
- Sightsee and learn about new culture?
- To accomplish a bucket list goal... Mt. Kilimanjaro anyone?
Take note which of these ideas seem relaxing to you and which seem mentally or physically challenging (or both).
Challenges tend to add stress, not relieve it.
If you want to come back from vacation both mentally and physically rejuvenated, (and that’s not what you are currently getting out of your travels) you are going to have to plan differently.
To help and support you in planning an actual relaxing vacation, here are some of our top tips for what to take into account so that you’ll be able to relax, have a little adventure, and come back with a full tank of gas-in you!
To workout or not workout, that is the question. As long as you make a solid commitment with yourself to get back into your exercise routine when you are home, my advice is to skip the workouts. You are going to walk a lot more than normal on most vacations, or if you are just relaxing on the beach, you’ll swim a bit. If you really must workout, try something different than normal like a yoga class on the beach, or a bike / walking tour of the area. The point is to recharge from your routine life, not engage in it while away.
Take your pillow.
Pillows and mattresses in most places you stay are going to range from awful to just okay. Even if your hotel has a super fancy mattress the pillows will likely be huge and fluffy which is actually terrible for you neck. Although you can’t transport your bed from home, you can bring a pillow from home that you know is right for you, or a travel size Tempurpedic (my pick while away) which fits nicely in a carry on.
The right tools.
A sleep mask, earplugs, and/or white noise app to play through your phone might help sleep in a new place with uncertain noise and light. I like finding rain storm lists on Spotify.
Sleep in. Duh.
You totally deserve at least a few days to sleep in! Bracket rest days around adventure days so that you get the best of both. When I travel, I usually like to schedule 3-4 half day sight-seeing tours inside of an 8-9 day vacation. I don’t do them on consecutive days and keep other days to light sights. Some days, despite being someplace fantastic like Rome, I still take a 1/2 day to sit in bed and read a book. Again, this is a break from normal life!
Come back early.
After a long flight, schedule a staycation day to recover rather than try to eek out the longest vacation possible. Traveling is tough on the body and arriving home late in the evening only to wake up the next morning and truck off to work is asking a lot of it. Take a day to recuperate and collect your travel photos into a nice post. You’ll thank me on Monday.
Throw money at the travel headache.
How you get there sets the tone for the stay. Travel is usually a lot of headaches. Once you’re there and settle in it’s great, but the trip itself?! Packing, getting to the airport, getting through the airport, being stuck in an airplane seat for a long time, then getting through the other airport and to your lodgings all take a toll and create lots of stress. Give yourself any small favors that you can afford: taking a taxi to the airport instead of the subway, spending an extra $25 on extra legroom seats if you are tall, arranging for a car to pick you up and take you directly to your hotel from the airport. You won’t be able to take away all of the stressors but every little bit counts!
Get a post trip blues massage.
Of course I’ll say this, but it really does help to book a massage for that staycation day at the end of the vacation to help recuperate and revive. Sure, most people go for the massage at the hotel while on vacation, and we wouldn’t say no to that. However, that one will be completely erased by the stress of the trip back home. Booking yourself a massage after you get back means that you can head into work the next day fully recharged, de-stressed, and ready for action!