The message in church this past Sunday was entitled “Rest Matters.” The minister spoke about how God gave us the Sabbath as a gift, knowing we would need a rest from our labor. Vacations can also supply this much-needed rest. The problem comes when we are so busy on vacation that we come home exhausted – and need another vacation.
I started thinking about specific ways we can plan a vacation in order to achieve the rest intended.
Choose your Vacation Wisely
If you are in need of rest, do not plan a vacation that requires a lot of work or one where you will be kept busy all day, every day. Camping vacations might be your favorite, but they can also be a lot of work. If you camp often, you probably have an organizational system to lessen the amount of work, but if this is your first time, understand that you might not come home relaxed. One the other hand, depending on the type of work you do, camping may be the perfect choice. Camping vacations are great for mental relaxation and physical invigoration.
There are only a limited number of hours in a day. If you plan to see too many attractions, you will return home tired and not refreshed. When you make your list of what to see and do, set priorities. Visit the top priorities first, and the lower priorities only if you have time.
When you are visiting a new country, keep in mind that getting from place to place or seeing a new attraction may take more time than you anticipate. You might need to save some attractions for the next time you visit.
Build in Some Rest Time
If you are on an extended vacation, it’s a good idea to schedule a morning off every four or five days. You might need time to catch up on laundry, journaling, or sleep. If you actually schedule in the time, you will be more likely to take a break.
Mix It Up
One way to guarantee exhaustion, is to schedule a long day of visiting museums or other tourist sites. Rather than visiting all the museums in one day, mix it up. Visit a museum in the morning, take a walk and have a picnic lunch in a park, and then do a little shopping in the afternoon. Or visit a monument or tower – like the Eiffel Tower – in the morning and rent a bike for the afternoon. Follow this with an early supper and then take advantage of a museum that stays open until nine in the evening.
Let Someone Else Do the Work
There are several ways to let someone else do the work while you are on vacation. If you are traveling with someone, or with a group, divide the tasks among all participants. Let someone else do the cooking, by eating in restaurants. Rather than dealing with the stress of driving and navigating, use public transportation whenever possible. Hire a guide, sit back and relax, while they do the guide-work for you.
- Take Turns
If you are vacation with a group of people, spread the work around. Take turns preparing the meals. When vacationing with my sister and her family, she cooked dinner one evening, while I relaxed. The next evening, I cooked and she had a break. Sometimes we would work together, each preparing half of the meal.
Many meals can be simplified by substituting box mixes or prepared foods for part of the dish. Although prepared foods often cost more, the time savings can add up to a more relaxing vacation.
- Eat Out
If you are staying in a hotel on your vacation, it doesn’t really work to cook dinner on your own. You could buy ingredients for a picnic, but most of the time you probably eat out. If you are camping or staying in a cabin, you should also plan to eat out some of the time. Give yourself a break now and then by letting someone else do the work.
- Hire a Guide
It can be a lot of work to plan a vacation, but sometimes vacations can also be work. Rather than spending time researching and then explaining your research to the rest of your family, let a guide do it. A guide may be able to relate local stories that do not make it into available research. A guide might also be able to drive you to different sites, secure no-line admission, or give discounts for additional purchases. Hired guides usually cost more than self-guided tours, but the additional cost will add value to your experience.
- Use Public Transportation
If you follow me regularly, you know that on our recent trip, my daughter and I rented a car. (I’ve written about it here, here, and here.) The first day we had the car we drove from Barcelona, Spain, to Bordeaux, France. We made several stops along the way and saw beautiful sites, but it was a long day. We knew as we were planning, that we would not want to drive much the following day. Instead, we decided to do a full-day wine tour, where our guide drove us to three different wineries and lunch. We didn’t drive at all that day.
On trips to Europe, we don’t usually rent a car – at least not for very long. The public transportation systems in Western Europe are fantastic; so, for traveling from town to town this has been our preferred way. When traveling by bus or train, you can relax, sleep, read, knit, or just enjoy the scenery. I’ve always found that taking a train provides a nice break.
When traveling in the states, however, there are less public transportation options. Do not try to cover too many miles in one day and don’t schedule long drives several days in a row. If possible switch off between drivers, so everyone has time to relax a bit. When you get a chance to stop, go for a brisk walk to get your blood pumping again.
Take it Easy and Return Home Well-Rested
In our fast-paced world, we sometimes make our vacations fast-paced, too. With a little extra thought and preparation, your vacation can be the restful break that it was intended to be. Plan ahead to rest – return home relaxed, but invigorated.
Do you sometimes feel like you need a vacation from your vacation? What change will you make to alleviate that feeling? Leave a comment below.