The US is known for being the “No Vacation Nation”. Not only do we get less vacation time that many other countries, we are more likely not to use the vacation time we have. Nearly ½ billion vacation days go unused each year in the US!
People who don’t use their vacation time are more likely to develop heart disease and depression, and are even at greater risk of death than those who do.
If you don’t have any vacation plans for this summer, it’s not too late to get away. Early fall is actually my favorite time of year to travel. Once the kids are back in school prices, crowds, and temperatures go down.
Before you make plans, make sure you take the best kind of vacation for you by first looking at your day-to-day lifestyle.
When Life is Routine
If your life is routine, the days seems to blend into one another, or you find yourself pondering, “Is this all there is?”, you could stand to shake things up.
St. Augustine said “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” Read another page by traveling somewhere you’ve never been before. Vacationing in the same place year after year might be pleasant (as in BORING), but it won’t provide much stimulation. It won’t make you a more interesting or interested person, either.
Meeting new people, eating different foods, finding your way around unfamiliar places, and taking different modes of transportation are all ways that travel is stimulating. If you travel abroad and have to try out a new language, even better!
Travel forces you to use skills that remain dormant and boosts your confidence. If you stop pushing yourself to try new things, eventually your world and confidence shrink.
When Life is Hectic
Many people have the opposite problem — their day-to-day life is crazy and stressful. These people imagine they would benefit from a more relaxing vacation.
The problem with forced relaxation is that if you’re used to a hectic life, a completely unstructured vacation with days of nothingness stretched out before you will be stressful. There is no point in white-knuckling it on the beach wishing you were checking your email.
A better choice for you might be a guided tour. A tour can provide enough stimulation to hold your interest, but not much stress since all the details and arrangements are left to others. There are tours for all price ranges, age groups, interests, and levels of activity. Guided tours can be as active or cerebral as you like. You can white water raft the Grand Canyon, volunteer to save turtles in Costa Rica, or explore the art of Italy.
If independent travel has always been your style and you really can’t see yourself doing a tour, you might want to dip your toe into the waters by signing up for a few organized day trips. You’ll find you learn more and stress less with a professional tour guide. No worries about driving, directions, or parking – all you have to do is show up.
Leaving the driving to others can be a great relationship saver, too. Driving in a foreign country with your partner navigating can lead to some serious friction. (Ask me how I know this!)
When You Absolutely Can’t Get Away
If financial restraints or personal obligations can make going away unrealistic, try a “staycation”.
If possible, check into a local B&B, hotel, or resort. If not you can sleep at home. But play tourist for the day – avail yourself of the “must-do” sites and experiences in your area that you rarely, or never, get around to.
Even a 24 hour staycation can leave you greatly refreshed.
No Vacation? Try Meditation
When you find you need to get away right now, but it’s just not possible, give yourself a mini-break anytime you need one with meditation.
If you haven’t meditated before, you’ll have more success using a guided meditation or brainwave entrainment MP3 to get started. Then go someplace quiet, get comfortable, and listen, using a headset or ear buds. You should feel emotionally lighter, refreshed, and more relaxed immediately. Do as needed whenever you could use a mini-vacation.
While meditation is one of the most beneficial habits you can incorporate into your daily life, it’s still not a substitute for a getting away. I recommend experiencing the benefits of both by being part of the “Meditation AND Vacation Nation”!
Deane Alban is co-founder of BeBrainFit.com and author of Brain Gold: The Anti-Aging Guide for Your Brain. Sign up for “Brain Builder” – her free newsletter for the latest natural ways to stay mentally fit for life. When your brain works right, your whole life works better!