My 5 Secrets to a Great Vacation

Every vacation needs to have at least some of the key elements you require to recharge.

Every vacation needs to have at least some of the key elements you require to recharge.

Do you ever just feel like you visited too much, ate too much, spent too much money on a vacation and didn’t have a chance to truly recharge yourself?

To plan a good vacation, it’s valuable to think ahead about what’s important to you. What’s your vision for an ideal vacation? What are the key elements? 

Our planning started in March. I found a workshop in Northern California I wanted to attend that was offered in July. My husband and I started there and added to it, trying to incorporate as many of our key elements as we could.

What do you need from a vacation?  Here’s my list; give some thought to what’s on yours.

1.   Connect with Friends or Family

People we love need our presence and we need theirs, especially to celebrate landmarks like weddings, birthdays, or getting a concerning health report. Who do you want to see? What’s the best way to spend time that will work for you and them?

You say you are close to your family, but do you give it the time it needs? What about key friendships from previous moves or jobs? Are you really putting your time into what you want? Okay, relatives and friends can have conflicts, but did you try to do your part, say the things you wanted to say? Support others, when possible?

Life goes fast. Last year I lost two key family members. Each moment is a decision we are making on how to spend our time, our life. 

Vacations can cycle over the years to create their own balance. Perhaps for a while, kids athletics or the health of family members is a major focus. For me this year, there was/is space for new ways of balancing and restoring, for catching up with people we haven’t seen but care about.

Reconnecting with friends from earlier days is fun.

Reconnecting with friends from earlier days is fun.

2.   Learn Something New

Do you have wanderlust and feel most like yourself when you’re on an adventure in a totally different country, challenging yourself with language, location and customs?

My niece, a mother of two under six years old, sent a note saying she’s starting to feel a little like her old self again. She’s figured out a way to go to Japan and meet a friend for a few days, no kids, no husband, just fun with her high school girlfriend stationed there. She feels more alive just thinking about it. Knowing her, she probably got a flight for under $200. Being resourceful in planning travel makes a huge difference. 

Lisa Files, my assistant, spread her wings by visiting her daughter in Alaska. She’s full of new perspectives and stories. Learning can be done by seeing new places and meeting new people. 

Lisa's daughter, Emily (with sunglasses), in Haines, Alaska.

Lisa's daughter, Emily (with sunglasses), in Haines, Alaska.

3.   Get out in Nature

Communing with the great outdoors, learning about it, being in nature is so restoring on many levels. I always consider myself an appreciator of the great indoors since I got burned out on camping growing up.  My dad seemed to want to visit every lake in Michigan on the weekends. Colored by my teenage rebellion, I began saying things like: “My idea of camping is a Holiday Inn.”

As time passes, I am beginning to love simply being outside, things that are green, learning about this whole world beyond my door. I did a day of camping with friends on Memorial Day, and it was great. (No sleeping outside, just being out all day). They want to make their camping trip an annual event, and so next year we may stay overnight. Small steps.

My husband enjoying the great outdoors.

My husband enjoying the great outdoors.

4.   Nurture Your Spirit

I want to feel like I’m a better person than I was before vacation, somehow.  I just love spiritual things: places where I can think about what I am learning from life, what I am doing with my life, if I’m in line with my purpose. I have taken vacations where I don’t have this, and it’s okay, but a spiritual focus fits my needs much better.

So we have tried retreats in different areas, like upstate New York, California, and Michigan. I love visiting sacred places like old churches, new churches of all different kinds, to try and understand how other people have found daily inspiration and refuge.

A yoga retreat, especially one geared to all levels of practitioners, is a healthy option. Good food, nature, and exercise. And devotion, even for the non-religious.

5.   Allow Transition Time

Some time, even a day to transition from vacation before going back to work, is ideal. Having time to unpack, collect yourself, is so valuable. You can start thinking about work a little, but don’t make yourself do anything yet. Being able to assimilate what you learned and do any follow-up helps you feel on top of life. Otherwise, it could feel like gathering valuable gems and then throwing them into the wind to grip onto the next thing.  It can be like going from one movie to the next. I’ve forgotten really important things I promised to do for relatives or friends from vacation, because once I was back at home, I just shifted into a completely different mind frame.

Instead, let’s mindfully honor life. Even if it was a staycation, give yourself time to absorb things and then move on to what’s next.

I am fortunate to say that I love my life. I created it. That’s why I like to help people with their lives. I know what it’s like to fall into suffering or not feel at your best, and I am passionate about how to find ways to make meaning of it, and move forward.

All best,
Diane and Lisa