There’s nothing better than taking a vacation, right? You pick the perfect destination, scour popular hashtags, and spend the next few months daydreaming about escaping the everyday demands of your day job. When the time finally comes for you to head out, you feel the almost-forgotten feeling of absolute freedom. At last, an opportunity to relax.
Except, you forgotten something - You didn’t actually schedule yourself any time to relax. We’ve all done it. You come home from a vacation feeling like you need another vacation. But it doesn't have to be that way. You can enjoy your vacation, pack in all the activities you want and still allow yourself an opportunity to unwind. Here's why the magic words of vacation planning are: rest day.
1. You need to rest
Think about it – When you’re totally exhausted from work you don’t usually say, “I need to hike for 6 days straight.” You say, “I need a vacation!” Why is that? Because your brain and your body need a break. What we often forget is that it’s ok to cut ourselves some slack and take a vacation that actually involves rest, rather than forcing a bunch of activities into a short period of time.
Chances are, you had to work incredibly hard for the opportunity to take time away in the first place. Long work days, juggling adult responsibilities and probably losing a lot of quality sleep or R&R along the way are all a part of an anomaly called "adulting."
And when you finally have an opportunity to take a vacation, it can be almost impossible to turn off the innate drive that tells you to go, go, go! But giving yourself a day to relax is critical to rejuvenate and revitalize your body. In doing so, you’ll actually be able to appreciate and enjoy the experience a lot more.
2. Traveling isn’t easy
It’s easy to appreciate a vacation when you’re looking at beautiful pictures of paradise online. However, what most people don’t talk about is how hard it can be to plan one.
Picking a date, making sure it works with your schedule, finding a destination, budgeting for the trip, booking lodging, renting a car, buying a plane ticket - the list goes on and on. Then, once you’ve actually put the effort into planning the trip, you have to actually travel. Cramming yourself into the middle seat of an airplane on a long flight, traveling through various time zones, or driving several hundred miles can take a toll on your body.
Initially, you may feel superhuman from the adrenaline and excitement of getting away, but eventually all of these things will catch up to you. Usually, this is where the “I need a vacation from my vacation” sentiment comes into play.
Allowing yourself at least a day to adjust to the change in pace and environment will refresh your mindset and give your body a much-needed break. Kick your feet up, hang by the pool, read a book or check out a local café – keep it low-key and relax. At least for one day while you recover.
3. You won’t miss out on anything
Let’s talk about social media for a minute. Social media is a serious cause for restless vacation syndrome and we’ve all experienced it. It’s easy to get caught up in what other people are doing and have a burning desire to experience what they did.
Keep in mind, social media is just a snapshot of someone’s life or experiences. You may think you’re getting the full picture, but what you’re really seeing is a glimpse or fragment of reality. The person that you’re living vicariously through probably took more time to relax than you think, but is only sharing daily cliff-diving excursions because they’re a lot more interesting than a photo of them reading a book.
You need to actively fight FOMO – the fear of missing out. You may think that you’re going to miss out on something life-changing by taking a day off from your adventure, when in fact you have something to gain: An authentic experience. Exploring a local coffee shop or getting familiar with your hotel's pool are just as valid of travel experiences as hiking around the city and touring every landmark and museum.
4. Quality over Quantity
And authentic experience means truly immersing yourself in an experience, rather than checking boxes.
Let’s say it’s your first time travelling to a new destination and you spent months scouring the web to find all of the must-see locations. Pretty soon, your list quickly climbs to 20 must-see things. Now you’re up against a deadline.
That’s not really vacationing - that’s working! Chances are, you decided to travel because you wanted to ditch the daily demands of clocks and calendars for a while. You wanted to experience something new, live on a new schedule, and be free from time constraints. Carefully cataloguing your day isn’t new, it’s what you do every day.
Don’t spend your vacation bossing yourself around. Rather than creating a list of 20 must-do adventures, try narrowing your list and allowing yourself to truly experience each moment. Slow things down, be present and allow yourself to take it all in.
Instead of hiking to the top of every mountain trail in Juneau, take a day to enjoy the culture in a local town instead. Does your hotel have beautiful beach-side views? Grab a chair and have lunch by the beach. A vacation is supposed to be enjoyable and oftentimes, these simple insignificant moments are actually the most memorable.
You may not see everything there is to see, but that just gives you another excuse to return!