Ideally, vacation is a time to relax, take in the scenery, and allow your mind and body to decompress from the daily grind. The term vacation stems from a Latin word meaning “freedom” and “leisure”, indicating the duty-free nature of going on a trip to get away from it all.
While it is intended as a time of peace and quiet, you may find it hard to switch into relaxation mode on vacation. If this is the case, your inability to take it easy can cause you to miss out on valuable stress-relieving time and in-the-moment experiences
Learn how to relax on vacation with the helpful tips below. By implementing them the next time you go on vacation, you can enjoy yourself and truly embrace your freedom.
1. Prepare Before You Go
An excellent way to help yourself relax on vacation is to prepare before you go.
One of the major culprits of feeling stressed or pressured when on vacation is thinking about all of the duties that are waiting for you upon your return.
These can be work-related or relationship-related. Tasks that you know you’ll have to deal with when you come back such as paying certain bills or cleaning a sink full of dishes are also vacation-ruining stressors.
Taking care of these tasks before you leave can significantly improve your ability to relax while on your vacation.
Clean up your home before you go so that you aren’t thinking about how much laundry you need to fold while trying to relax on the beach.
Pay your student loan or car payment early so that it isn’t plaguing your mind as a shop in the Bahamas.
Prepare your mind for relaxation before you even leave the house by anticipating what might stress you out and taking care of it beforehand.
2. Create a Wish List, Not an Itinerary
For some people, vacation is a time to sight-see, sample culinary delights, or attempt activities that they wouldn’t do in their normal lives.
If you are one of these high-energy, go-getters, your vacations might require you to plan out a point-by-point itinerary to ensure that you don’t miss anything on your to-do list.
While being organized is helpful, it can also create stress on vacation.
If you plan everything, you may run from place to place without stopping to take in the moment. You might also overlook unique experiences because they aren’t included in your pre-planned itinerary.
To counteract this type of stress and allow for more relaxation, try making a wish list rather than an itinerary.
Come up with two or three major items that you would like to experience while on vacation and try to make them happen without intense planning.
Doing so should help you relax and enjoy the ride while still providing an overarching goal for your trip.
3. Create a Budget Using a Vacation-Only Account
If you find that you can’t relax on vacation because you are constantly worrying about spending too much money, try creating a budget using a vacation-only account.
Prior to your vacation, open a separate account or put a budgeted amount of money on a prepaid credit card. This can help you stay within your vacation budget while also keeping you from having to use cash only for the trip.
4. Set Aside Time for Yourself
If you go on vacation with a group of other people, whether they are your friends or family, you may not get a chance to relax.
Spending time with other people has its benefits, but sometimes being alone is beneficial to the brain.
By spending time in solitude with yourself, you can foster self-growth, competence, and autonomy, all of which can help you feel at peace with yourself and with the world around you.
If your vacation isn’t a solo endeavor, carve out some time for yourself. Head down to the beach in the early morning or take a day to peruse the local scenery without company.
This will help you relax and get in touch with your inner voice, one of the major benefits of relaxing on vacation.
5. Unplug Whenever Possible
When surveyed, 56% of travelers reported that not checking their work-related messages reduced stress on vacation.
This isn’t surprising, given that most people take a vacation to get away from work, not try to work and relax at the same time!
If you are the type of person who has trouble “unplugging” from work, it is imperative that you find a way to do so if you want to relax on vacation.
According to a study published in Psychology and Health, 60% of employees reported that vacationing improved their health and well-being. This highlights the need for rest and relaxation from the daily grind.
Your best bet for allowing your mind to declutter and reset is to unplug from your cell phone, laptop, and any other device where work can reach you.
If possible, turn off your devices or avoid bringing non-essential electronics with you in the first place.
If you need to check in with work, set aside a small window of time in which you will read or reply to messages. This can help you focus on relaxing in the moment rather than worrying about your job back home.
6. Let Someone Else Take the Reigns
While some people enjoy planning their vacation, others feel overwhelmed trying to figure out what to do on a trip. One travel agency report suggests that 41% of people feel stressed about scheduling activities for their vacation.
If you are the type of person who feels a sense of pressure or anxiety at trying to plan what to do for your vacation, let someone else take the reins.
Opt for a packaged trip that includes a pre-planned itinerary for one set price. Alternatively, have a friend or family member who loves planning make all the arrangements for your trip.
This will allow you to have an outlined plan that you can follow so you can relax rather than try and do it all yourself.
7. Journal About Your Trip Each Night
One great way to get in a relaxed state of mind is to set aside time each night to write about your trip.
Journaling is a meditative activity, so even if you only write for fifteen minutes or so, you can reap the benefits of a clearer head and relaxed mental atmosphere.
As a bonus, your journal will give you a record of your vacation that you can look back on whenever you want.
Bring a gorgeous new journal with you to your vacation spot and pick a time to journal.
Just before bed is an excellent option, but early morning works well too. You can write whatever you feel, but if you get stuck, try the following prompts to help you get in the zone:
- Write about the most interesting thing that happened that day
- Made a list or word web with the first adjectives that come to your mind about the day
- Write about a lesson you learned or a new insight you gained about your life
- Describe a location you visited during the day in vivid detail
- Talk about how you feel in the moment and what you hope to experience on the rest of your trip
8. Try a “Yes” Day
If you've ever seen the movies Yes Man or Yes Day, you’ll know that saying yes to things you’d normally do so no to can lead to some interesting and unexpected experiences.
While you’ll want to have some boundaries in place, try adopting a "yes" attitude while on vacation.
Focusing on saying yes rather than no can help your mind open up, which can also help you relax and enjoy the moment.
Saying yes keeps you from staying stuck in your normal behavior patterns that might encourage an uptight or worrisome mindset.
Try saying yes to new experiences, as long as they are safe and within your budget, and see how doing so helps you ditch the normal, relax, and open up to a new experience.
9. Stop Trying For Perfect
If you are having trouble relaxing on vacation, remember to stop striving for perfection.
This applies if you are unable to relax because you are always trying to get the best photo or video for social media.
It also applies if you are trying to force yourself to sit back and relax on the beach when you’d rather be out exploring the countryside.
What is relaxing and enjoyable to you may not be the ideal version of relaxation, but what’s important is that you are able to disconnect from your normal, everyday life and find joy in your new setting.
Don't strive for that perfect photo or get upset if the restaurant or landmark you wanted to visit is closed. Don't force yourself to “relax” if you find more happiness when you are active and interacting with new people.
Instead, find what makes you happy and pursue it. You’ll find that you feel more relaxed when acting naturally rather than trying to make it happen.
Relax, Unwind, and Enjoy
If you prepare ahead of time and participate in mindfulness activities like journaling, you are likely to relax much more easily and enjoy your vacation.
And while relaxing and taking time to de-stress is important, it is also important not to be too hard on yourself if you aren’t able to relax.
Everyone experiences relaxation in their own way, so as long as you feel free and at peace, you are doing a great job of relaxing on vacation.