Planning the Perfect Vacation

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I’m feeling really worn out lately, like I need a vacation. It’ll be a little while before I get one, though: I’m graduating and getting a job, and I know I’ll have to work for a little while before I can just take off and travel for a while!


However, when I do get the chance to take some time off, I really want to recharge. In fact, I’ve been considering a “staycation” –just sitting and home, reading, relaxing, recharging, that kind of stuff. However, I’m worried that won’t do the trick since it’s not enough of a change of scenery. I also don’t want to “waste” my time off. So, I keep going around in circles, trying to figure out the best way to spend my much-needed vacation (when I finally get to it)! Experts, can you help? What vacations are most relaxing? How can I make sure that I really feel refreshed when I get back from my trip?


Congratulations on your graduation and your budding career! This is certainly a very exciting time in your life. It is also, of course, a stressful time–and after your years of arduous work in college, you have absolutely earned a little time off. When you feel that you can take a break from your new job, you should realize your dreams of a relaxing and recharging vacation. Remember, vacations are key for avoiding“burnout”–the very real condition that makes us feel exhausted and fed up with work. Burnout destroys productivity, which is why studies show that taking time off can make us more productive overall. Though it may seem counter-intuitive, the fact is that the time you spend not working is as important to your productivity as the time that you spend on the job.


You Understand that, though, and your question focuses on a different issue: how can we best use our vacation time to recharge after an extended period of work? The answer will vary a bit from person to person, but we can show a few universal truths about how vacations work and can help guide you to the answer that suits you best.


For starters, any good vacation needs to be planned properly. The pros at Lansing, Michigan’s visitors’ bureau tell would-be tourists to read up on attractions before they visit Lansing, so that they can best budget their time and ensure that they see everything that they want to see. While a “spontaneous” vacation may sound like a lot of fun, it’s best to have at least a little structure in your trips, because it’s likely that you’ll find planning on the go to be a stressful experience. The point of a vacation is to enjoy yourself, so the parts that might feel like “work,” such as scheduling your days, should occur ahead of time!


Of course, it’s also possible to over-plan. Be sure to leave some wiggle room in any schedule you make. Give yourself more time than you think you’ll need to get from place to place and carve out some downtime so that you’re not always doing something while you’re on your trip. Leave space to add spontaneous activities, too!


Smart planning is valuable on any sort of trip. However, you were asking specifically about what sort of trip to take, so let’s talk about your options!


One of the major decisions you’ll have to make about your trip is whether you want a sightseeing trip or one focused on relaxation. There are, of course, plenty of destinations that offer both things: you could explore Henry County, Georgia or another historic area that combines historic sites with low-stress strolls, for instance. However, there’s no denying that some vacations tend toward one extreme or the other: if you visit Rome, for instance, you’ll probably do a lot of sightseeing in crowded spots, while a visit to one of the many places to see on Florida’s Gulf Coast will likely result in more time spent on beaches relaxing.


This is a part of the discussion where you’ll really have to think about what you want. Would you feel relaxed on a beach, or would you get more joy out of using your time to see historic sites, famous works of art, and foreign cities? Do you want to focus on one or the other, or split your time between the two? There’s no wrong answer–the point here is that you should pick a vacation that will bring you joy and lift your mood.


Speaking of ways to lift your mood, you should consider including some healthy activities in your vacation. Many of us want to spend our vacation time eating poorly and drinking alcohol. While we won’t tell you that you shouldn’t enjoy a dessert or drink a glass of wine, you should remember that your diet has a strong effect on your mood. Exercise does too, which lifts your mood. A vacation is the perfect time to try a new physical activity, say experts who offer surfing lessons in Waikiki, HI. Or, you can combine physical activities with your sightseeing plans: take a stroll to the next spot instead of hopping in a cab or consider renting a bicycle to explore a city. Even relaxation-focused vacations at resorts and on cruise ships will offer plenty of opportunities for healthy choices. You should go for a swim or sign up for a yoga class!


If you want your vacation to be relaxing and leave you feeling recharged, there are a few things that you should make sure you do. You should develop a smart schedule that gives your vacation structure but still leaves room for improvisation. You should make healthy choices that ensure your vacation is invigorating–and not just a bender. These are innovative ideas no matter what type of vacation you’re taking. However, the final piece of your restful vacation puzzle is the one that’s up to you, and that’s where you should go. It’s not a cop-out. It’s just that you will truly be most revitalized by a vacation that you enjoy, and only you can decide what that means to you. Good luck!


“No matter where you go, there you are.” – Buckaroo Banzai