Travel industry trends show that people have started working more hours and taking less time off in recent decades. And, each year, workers forfeit around 212 million vacation days, putting off their much-needed break again and again. Though travel has been next to impossible over the last couple of years, we can once again plan the perfect vacation. Following a few steps will make sure your much-needed getaway lives up to your expectations and delivers exactly what you need to rejuvenate your spirit.
No matter what your mom told you, there are times when it’s okay to be a bit selfish. Planning a getaway is one of those times. It’s your chance to get away from the mundane side of your life or adhere to the day-in, day-out schedules controlled by others, so it’s important to choose a trip that you’ll enjoy. Consider destinations that feed your soul, whether it’s a quiet, secluded beach on a tropical isle, a backpacking adventure through remote areas, or a holiday trip to the world’s top winter wonderlands.
Mental health experts say that simply planning a vacation can boost your happiness levels for up to eight weeks before your trip. Research a list of places you’ve always wanted to see, then narrow it down. Consider the time of year you’re planning to travel and what the weather will be like when you reach your destination. Check calendars for any events that may hinder travel or religious holidays that result in closures of popular sites. Once you’ve finalized your plans and made the arrangements, relax and enjoy the anticipation of heading out on your journey.
After making your itinerary, the next step is to learn everything there is to know about the destinations. Gaging how far your hotel is from the airport, checking for traveler advisories, and figuring out the best way to get around the city are important steps. Check out the places you can and can’t use credit cards. In some countries, plastic gets you everywhere you need to go, while other countries are cash-only all the way.
Although planning helps you avoid issues that interfere with your vacation goals, it’s also a good idea to be flexible. Don’t over plan things, and don’t try to jam too much into your itinerary. Leave some room for exploration when you can, as well as time for revisiting specific sites or cities you fell in love with. If you feel like doing nothing, then relax and do nothing. It’s your vacation.
Try to schedule some time to rest up once you’ve returned, so you’re not so tired when you resume your regular day-to-day schedule.
If you’ve ever left the house, and moments later, tried to remember if you turned off the coffee maker, you can relate to the anxiety it can cause. Before leaving on your much-awaited vacation, take care of all the practical stuff that you might worry about while you’re away. Finding a responsible person to house sit or check on your abode regularly will ease your mind. If you’re a pet owner and you’re leaving your furry friend behind, find a high-quality boarding facility that can care for them while you’re gone. Make reservations well ahead of your departure. Pet hotels tend to fill up for the holidays and during the summer months.
Checklists are your friend, and they are especially helpful when you’re packing for a vacation. Load up your suitcase with clothing that fits the climate where you’ll be visiting. Extra undergarments and socks are always a good idea. Take any toiletries you use regularly at home. They may not be available at your destination. Phone chargers, umbrellas, hairbrushes, toothpaste, and swimsuits are the items most people forget to pack.
It’s often difficult to relax once you’ve made it through the main traveling segment of your journey. From the moment you leave your home city, you’re on vacation. Accept delays, crowds, and traffic as part of the experience. If things don’t go exactly as planned, it’s much better to roll with it than feel disappointed or let down. Be open to unexpected opportunities that arise as a result of other parts of your itinerary not working out. As the Chinese philosopher and poet, Lao Tzu said, “A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.”
While being open and flexible is key to a satisfying and enjoyable vacation, staying safe should be a priority. Knowing where you are and being aware of your surroundings at all times is imperative. Don’t wander around, looking lost. Preparing your route for the day ensures you’re not wandering away from your destination and into unsafe areas. And, before venturing out after dark, make sure you know how safe it is to do so. In some cities, locals recommend staying indoors once the sun goes down.
Try to create some distance between you, your work, and your day-to-day life back home while on your getaway. Choose some time each day to unplug yourself from your electronic devices. You’ll be amazed at how much more of your surroundings you’ll take in when you aren’t fixated on your phone or tablet.
Plan something special on the last day of your vacation to celebrate. Experiencing a fabulous meal, a night out on the town, a final stroll and Instagram session on a beach, or a restful sleep-in and a relaxing, leisurely breakfast are just some of the ways that allow you to end your trip on a high note.
Choosing a memorable ending for your vacation is like topping a much-loved gift with a big bow. It makes it even more special.