Five easy ways to boost the joy and pleasure of every trip you take

Ever feel yourself stuck in a vacationing rut?

Maybe you try out different places, but they all kind of seem the same. 

Maybe you find the planning exhausting.

Maybe you stress out over small things so that your energy gets sapped.

Maybe you cram too many things into too little time, and you come back more tired than when you left.

Maybe you bring work with you, even when you say you’re not going to, so that you wind up giving away precious vacationing hours to your job.

I’m going to be bold and say: This is not what a vacation should feel like.

Here are 5 secrets to becoming a Zen master of vacationing. Trust me — you’ll never regret taking these on.

  1. Move a little bit every day you’re on holiday, especially if your job is the kind that has you sitting at a desk all day long.  This isn’t about working out; it’s just about doing what your body and brain want you to do, which is move around a little. Lounging is great — there should definitely be time for lounging — but only lounging for days on end has an ironic de-energizing effect on the body. (It’s part of why desk work can be insanely exhausting, even though you technically didn’t do anything physical all day long.) Whatever your level of mobility or fitness, pick something to do every day that gives you a burst of activity: walking, swimming in the ocean, a bike ride, playing with your kids, morning yoga or stretching. If you have some physical limitations, plan ahead and find walker- or wheelchair-friendly spaces to explore, even if it’s just for 20 minutes each day. Your body and your brain will thank you. Activity actually helps boost your body’s ability to fully relax and soak up the restorative purpose of vacationing.

  2. Get present to real, peaceful, natural beauty. You might not be the camping type. Or the sporty type. Or the outdoorsy type. That’s 100% okay! You don’t have to hike the Grand Canyon to sit in total awe of it. Even the biggest, loudest city has peaceful places to just be in the presence of natural beauty. If the weather’s nice and you have the option, sit outside for your meal or pack a picnic. Just soak in your surroundings and the view; pay attention to light, sounds, sensations, and smells.

    Claudio Fernández-Aráoz, a senior adviser and business author, recently wrote in the Harvard Business Review about a CEO friend of his who swore by intentional time in nature to up his business game: “Before retiring from the CEO role, John would try to take these breaks just before his global partners’ meetings because he found that his ideas, initiatives, and even speeches would become much more focused, rich, clear and powerful as a result—even though he didn’t spend any time actively working on them!” We can’t underestimate the power that being in nature has for bringing out the best in our thinking and seeing.

  3. Cultivate your appetite for “different.” This one can be challenging — but it pays huge dividends when it comes to creating vacations that are full, satisfying, and memorable. This is less about booking some extreme trip and more about being willing to approach every trip as a learning experience, to being open to the possibility that every vacation can actually make you a better person. Seek out conversations with interesting strangers. Learn some phrases in a new language and practice them and see what happens. Try new foods. Take in a performance that features local music or dance. Take the risk of not knowing and being willing to ask. As Fernández-Aráoz observes, “The world’s most productive people are deeply curious and collaborative and constantly seek out new acquaintances and allies — even when they’re on vacation.”

  4. Put your money into experiences, not things. Again, this one can be challenging. We’re taught in our culture that having more stuff will make us happier, even though research has proven (link name to this ==> this over and over again to not be true. Vacations in and of themselves are experiences — so that’s one step in the best direction — and getting a few small things to remember your trip is certainly not a bad thing. But keep an eye out for ways to maximize your experience of each moment within your holiday. When the moment comes to decide if you want to blow a ton of cash at the duty free shop or a souvenir shop — ask yourself what kinds of experiences you could buy that will be with you forever and that will continue to bring you happiness long after they’re over.

  5. Treat your vacation like a vocation. Notice there’s only one letter that separates the time you spend relaxing, re-energizing, and reconnecting and the thing you were born to do. The word “vacation” comes from the Latin vacare, which means “freedom from obligation and duty, release, to be free and at leisure.” The word “vocation” comes from the Latin vocare, which means “to call” — as in, your personal calling, your purpose, the things that bring you deep joy and bring out the best in you and everyone around you. Think of the joyful energy you would put into your calling — the intention, the planning, the attention to detail, the gratitude. Consider the other word we frequently use for vacation — “holiday” — and note that it means “holy day.” It’s okay to approach your upcoming trip as something that can hold a bit of magic, because it just might. As Fernández-Aráoz writes, your vacation can be the thing that actually brings you back better than you were before — better for yourself, your family and friends, your work, your life.

If you’re looking for ways to maximize your traveling experiences, but you’re not quite sure how to get there, I’d love to help! If planning stresses you out, I can be your best ally. I love this work and can help connect you with the places and experiences that will stay with you for a lifetime. Let’s talk today

The idea of traveling to a country that’s in economic crisis can be unsettling. You see images of protests, people yelling, long lines at ATMs. You read headlines that predict dire endings, total collapse. It can be hard to sort out click-bait subject lines from reality.

Here’s the good news: you can absolutely travel to countries that might be having economic trouble, and you can have a fantastic trip. Several of 2016’s most troubled economies according to Bloomberg were countries that are popular with tourists – places like Brazil, Greece, and Russia.

First, I can help you separate hype from fact. For example, while the thought of protests can sometimes be uncomfortable to U.S. citizens, it’s important to note that protests are a fairly common occurrence in places like Europe. Protests and strikes are much more a part of the social fabric for average citizens than they are for people in the United States, and often under the drama of signs and shouting, conditions in a particular country might still be very normal and relatively calm. And as long as things are stable and it’s safe to be in that country, there’s no reason to avoid it.

Here are a few other things to keep in mind if you decide to an economically-distressed country. If you prepare properly, you can protect your investment and maximize the enjoyment of your vacation.

Get travel insurance and make sure you clearly understand all the details. Insurance can help protect your purchases in the event that a tour company or resort goes out of business. Just make sure you understand what’s covered and what isn’t. For example, if a protest or strike is predicted before you get on your plane, your travel insurance company may refuse to cover your expenses. Talk to me or contact your insurance provider directly to make sure you understand the terms clearly.

Book with credible airlines and tour operators. For U.S. citizens, this means booking with providers approved by the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA). Package deals also tend to protect the consumer more than buying each service separately.

Bring a variety of ways to pay for your holiday, including extra cash in the currency of the country you’re visiting. Most hotels, restaurants, and tour operators will still take credit cards, and often the cash limit at ATMs that’s in place for citizens will not apply to foreign visitors. Federal credit regulations allow travelers to file credit disputes if a service wasn’t provided because of bankruptcy. Still, it’s a good idea to bring more cash than you would normally, just in case there’s an interruption in credit card or ATM services.

The recently-instituted value-added-tax (VAT) increase in Europe may slightly affect prices on some goods and services. For tourists, this mainly affects things like hotel prices and restaurant food — though there are plenty of ways to still get great deals on these services.

Consider exploring areas of the country that you know will be quieter. Downtown in major cities like and university campuses tend to be common rally areas. Often, the countryside or smaller cities offer gorgeous views, plenty of amenities, delicious meals at affordable prices, and friendly citizens who appreciate the boost of tourist dollars. Take advantage of an opportunity to experience an amazing place — and help boost a discouraged economy.

Make the extra effort to connect with citizens. Strike up conversations in coffee shops. Ask questions at your hotel front desk. Take an extra moment to learn about what’s going on from an inside perspective. What you see in the news does not reflect the nuance of human experience. Your trip can only be enriched by connecting with the people who live in the country you’re visiting. 

Do you have a place in mind but have questions in an uncertain global economy? Contact me today and let’s see how we can make your vacation a reality. You’ll be so glad you did! to schedule your Unique Planning Session.

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