We all love and need vacations because they break the monotony of life and give us something to look forward to. We’ve all had vacations that went well and were very enjoyable; and those that seemed to go flat like a two-liter soda with the cap left off for days. What makes a vacation sizzle or fizzle? Why an article on “Vacations” when there are so many other “more important” things in life? Because vacations and fun improve your quality of life and help you become all God wants you to be! On the practical side, vacations can be expensive and you want to make the most of your time and money (both of which are limited.)
Investments, Not Expenses
I’ve heard many folks lament not going on more vacations because the “cost” of travel, lodging, food, entertainment, etc. If you’re an accountant-type, what I’m about to say may irritate you philosophically and frustrate you mathematically, but a properly-executed vacation (wow that sounds nerdy) is an investment rather than an expense. An investment in your mental health, your family’s health, and your quality of life! This is one area of your life you need to NOT be a scrooge or penny-pincher, but rather a wise “investor” in you and your family! “Good” vacations don’t need to break the bank; conversely, expensive vacations are not necessarily “good.”
We should start our excursion by looking at what NOT to do. Review the following items of things to avoid so you won’t be disappointed by a fizzling vacation. 1) Bad Funding: most vacations (not all) will require some level of cash. Don’t make the mistake of not taking the time to set back some cash for your vacationS this year… that’s right, I said vacationS (plural). Putting your vacation on credit is double dirt dumb, unless you already have the cash to pay it off in full upon your return. Before you leave your house, take the time to set aside all the money your trip will require! This will alleviate the financial strain many feel as a result of lack of planning. You pile up all you need before you load the car. Period. 2) Bad Timing: going to the right place at the wrong time can wreck what could’ve been a good vacation. Do some research about your vacation destination and ensure the weather (generally-speaking) and other people there will be conducive to you getting your groove on. 3) Bad People: do NOT go on vacation with (or meet) people you don’t get along with. This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s an important consideration. There’s nothing worse than expecting a nice relaxing time in the mountains reading a good book (and smoking a fine cigar) and finding out your vacay buddies need a high level of “entertainment” and to be “on the go.” Just as it would be a mistake to plan adult activities with curtain-climbers accompanying your travel companions. In general, avoid negative, boring, mean people and you should be okay. 4) Bad Childcare: If you are taking the curtain-climbers, and want to have some adult time, you better make sure you’ve planned for childcare!
Vacations are investments, not expenses!
Vacations are needed once a quarter!
Vacations are destroyed by: Bad Funding, Bad Timing, Bad People, and Bad Childcare.
Now that you’ve got your properly planned and funded vacation to the perfect spot with the perfect people at the perfect time, let’s cover what it takes to make the most of your vacation.
Attitude. For starters, you get what “expect” most of the time, so I believe your expectations and anticipation should be high. Your attitude is key – happiness and enjoyment is a choice, so you must intentionally “choose” to have a good time.
Music. To help with your attitude, download a playlist or two of whatever kind of music you like for the trip. If you want to get fancy, download different types of music to coincide with your different “moods”… Romantic (adults only), Electric (high energy), Country (reminiscing, line dancing, lamenting your lost dog, spouse, etc), Hair Bands (general good times), and Classical (to get your intellect firing.)
Route. Depending upon whether your flying or driving or boating, plan some fun stuff along the way. If your destination is far away, the trip to and from will be an important part of the vacation and this is often overlooked.
Responsibilities. Make sure you’ve thought through all your responsibilities (someone to let Fido out to potty, pick up your mail, cut your grass, etc) ahead of time. Have everything done before you go, which means cleaning your house! Coming home to a messy house is stressful, so pick up your undies and socks, make your bed, and clean the kitchen before you go. Also, make sure all your work responsibilities are met while your away, then come home a day before you have to return to work so you can rest up from your vacay.
Adventure. Try new stuff, dude. Don’t eat at any fast food chains, but rather take in the local cuisine at some mom and pop restaurants. Eat new stuff, try new things, and make some memories! It’s okay to “not” like something, as long as you try it. Stop being so darn routine and boring. Live a little! Go tubing at night with a flashlight, take a helicopter ride, bungee jump, and go to an Irish Polka Dance party.
Machines. Disconnect from your home-life as much as possible. FaceChat and SnapBook will be okay a few days without you! Take your machines for pictures and emergency use only! If you have folks at home you need to check in with, do it very infrequently… once a day or once every other day.
List. Make a list ahead of time of everything you’ll need for the ride there and back, and your time at your destination. Sunblock, Carmex, Duck Tape (you always need this), super glue, needle and thread, flashlight, beanie weanies, chips, bottled water, straw hat, cowboy boots, gum, Advil and Tums are some basic requirements.
Making The Most of Life blog. You may want to read over this blog if you’re still not convinced at how important four vacations a year are! Your life is but a vapor, the bible says, so you better enjoy the time you have! A vacation can be a short as a day, or as long as you can take, but you need to build these into your life. Your family will thank you… and you’ll thank me.
Drop me a line and let me know about your best and worst vacations and what your plans are for your next vacation! I love you all!