It's Based on Experience
Ok listen. Everyone who's been on a vacation will have some insights they'd love to spill out all over you; most likely in some fashion to make you as jealous as possible. Of course during this deluge of delights they experienced, they'll no doubt attempt to extol some of their obvious wisdom upon you; oh if only you could be so lucky as to one day have a chance to follow in their glorious footsteps.
It's all garbage.
Fine fine fine; it's probably not garbage, but we all know it certainly isn't the gold-plated advice and experience that they're making it out to be. It's all good though; when someone does something special, it's only natural to want to share. The problem for you is that there's a tendency to be told all about only the good bits, and the bad bits are conveniently skipped or get lost in the noise. You take their advice and before you know it, you're stressed and grumpy on a vacation you paid way to much for.
Ok it might not be all that bad what others have to say, so you should probably listen. I've been on a number of trips myself and you're reading this, so really what's the difference? The difference is that I'm going to advise you not on where to go or what to do, but rather guidelines for sifting through all that advice. Armed with strategic priorities you'll be able to keep your eye on what's important, and plan your own great vacation.
Priority One: It's All About Balance
The absolute most important element to a successful great vacation, is balance. Too much of one thing or not enough of another, and you're either bored or exhausted. Try to plan in active activities mixed with relaxing ones; yes sitting around doing nothing counts as an activity! When someone is telling you about a great attraction they visited, be sure to find out how long one could spend there, and how tiring it was. If you end up visiting somewhere that requires more time than you have to see, you're going to be disappointed. Likewise if you get tired, you're not going to enjoy an activity as much as you would otherwise; unless of course the activity is a sport or something where you're supposed to get tired! Make sure you have a ying for every yang so that you're making the most out of every activity.
Priority Two: Stress Prevention
You're on vacation, and that makes stress vacation enemy number one! Stress can come about due to many different factors depending on the individual, so a little research can be helpful. Do an honest profile of yourself and anyone you're vacationing with, so that you're all aware of the most likely causes of vacation stress. Consider each person and plan accordingly to limit exposure to stress for everyone.
One of the most common forms of vacation stress is scheduling. It's very easy to get carried away on vacation, and schedule too many activities. Always give yourself more time than you need to get where you're going, so that you're never stressed if someone or something is running late. When you're on your vacation, assign managing of the schedule to just one person. This means that only one individual is exposed to scheduling stress, and eliminates conflict that may arise over planning disagreements.
Here are some of the most common sources of vacation stress. See how badly these and others affect you and/or members of your group, and do your best to plan ahead.
- Differing tastes in activities
- Bad or inappropriate Food and Drink (ie only seafood options for someone who doesn't like seafood)
- Uncomfortable sleeping arrangements
- Small, messy, and/or dirty rooms
Priority Three: Something for Everyone
The last thing you want is to get back from vacation and realize it just maybe wasn't worth it. Maybe it was relaxing and fun, but just didn't hit on the things you enjoy most; maybe it was you who had a great time but your friend, spouse, or partner didn't. You need to plan ahead and make sure that your plan includes something for everyone. Maybe you're the type of person who could just lay in the sun all day everyday, but you're with someone who needs some excitement. Discuss ahead of time and compromise. Getting up off the sand for some other activity will make who you're traveling with happier, and make the trip more enjoyable as a result. Conversely if you're a doer, try to find a way to let your fellow vacationer kick back for a while, while giving yourself something to do; you may even find that you have to kick back yourself, and you might just like it!
Priority Four: Activity Diversity
DO NOT DO JUST ONE THING!!! Sure sitting poolside or at the beach with a drink or two or three is many people's idea of heaven, but it will get old for everyone at some point guaranteed. There's a reason why resorts offer evening entertainment and other daytime activities; it makes the trip more fun! You don't have to take part in all the 'fun' activities that people say you should, but be sure to plan for more than just one or two activities on your trip. Diverse activities make sitting by poolside more enjoyable, gives you more to talk about while you're sitting poolside, and of course gives you more to brag about when you're back home! In all seriousness though, having a diversity of activities on vacation will give you a richer experience, and you'll look back on the trip with more fondness than you would have otherwise.
Priority Five: Escape!
No, this isn't mission impossible and you've got to get out before the bomb goes off. No I'm talking about escape from the status quo. Don't go on vacation if you're going to be the same old person doing the same old things; go on vacation to escape from everyday life whether it ails you or not! Vacation is a time to let your body and mind heal. Sometimes to heal that means laying in the sand sipping cocktails; other times healing requires climbing mountains in the Andes. The key to a great vacation is to experience things you would not otherwise be able to experience at home. Sometimes your life is perfect and all you're looking for is a change of scenery. Other times stress rules, so destressing is paramount. And sometimes life is just too plain and boring that you need to feel alive with some risk-taking and/or adventure. Whatever it is that motivates you to take a vacation, don't just do it for some time off but rather seek out that which gives you joy. It's your vacation, so make the most of it!
Priority Size: Repeat
Do NOT make this a one and done. Do not have a one-ever vacation to end them all, unless you're nearing death's door. Don't have a vacation to end-all vacations as that's just a recipe for sadness. Have a fun, relaxing, or adventurous vacation, and then look forward to the next! Before you start spilling excuses like it's too expensive or I don't have the time, realize that great vacations do not necessarily require travel, or the spending of money. Spend and travel if you want for sure, but don't be afraid to look closer to home. This world is full of wonders and adventures, just waiting for you to discover. Figure out what's counter to your daily life, and go out there and grab it; never forget that you deserve it!
Yes I'm sure you've heard advice like this before, but this time I mean it! Don't stress, don't take advice on blind faith, don't put up barriers, and most importantly, don't deny yourself. Treat yourself to a vacation for you, but make sure it's YOUR vacation and not someone else's. Advice on time off will come from anyone who you grant an opportunity to. Use the advice above and filter and create for your own needs. Have fun and I hope to see you out there!