What do you consider a great vacation? A theme park filled with thrill rides and fun? A relaxing time on the beach, with a cold drink in one hand and a book in the other? An adventurous tour of a brand new place? A spectacular cruise with a fantastic chef onboard? Whatever your idea of a great vacation is, my question to you is this: have you taken it? Have you ever been on the kind of vacation you’ve always wanted?
If you are like most people, the answer is: probably not. We don’t take most of our vacation time. It all just sits there, often unused and lost. But why? Why aren’t we taking the time that we have been given? We’re pretty good at coming up with excuses. Sometimes we convince ourselves that work just couldn’t survive without us. Sometimes we tell ourselves that it is too expensive, or we don’t have somebody to go with us. Sometimes we let our fears get the better of us—fear of flying, fear of new places, or the fear of trying something new.
But you know what? Studies have shown that experiences—much more than objects—make us happier. It’s time we stop coming up with excuses and start actually taking vacations!
I don’t mean you have to take a month off from work and go into debt just so you can spend time on some island in Fiji. Vacations aren’t solely about where you go, it’s about taking a break from your regular life and doing something you might not have done otherwise. It is about making lasting memories for yourself (and maybe those worth sharing those memories with, like a significant other or your family). It is a time for you to indulge in a passion, learn something new, or simply just take a break. You don’t need to fly half a world away or spend lots of money to do that.
Do some research into places you are interested in going, even if it is only in the next town over (or even something even closer to you that you have always wanted to check out but haven’t). Set a budget. Look online and see if you can find free events or discount codes. Figure out how much time you can get away. And then GO.
Once you’re actually on vacation, don’t think about what’s going on at work—it will all be there waiting for you when you get back and you can deal with it then. Try not to let hiccups derail you, and don’t obsess about all the little things that could go wrong with your trip. You’re not trying to have the perfect vacation; there is no such thing. Instead, try to stay in the moment as much as possible. Look at the way the sunlight hits the water. Savor the way your meal tastes. Enjoy every new experience, even if it doesn’t go the way you expected. Take mental notes so that you can relive the good experiences once you’ve gone home and are having a tough time. Use a camera, even if it’s just the one on your phone. Print out your favorite shots and hang them up at home or at work for when you need a little bit of a pick me up. It will remind you of how much fun you had and for you to keep finding the time to get away.