Summertime is in full swing. It’s the season that most families take their annual vacation. I happen to live in Central Florida, which seems like the vacation capitol of the world. Disney is 30 minutes to our north, and Legoland is visible from our back patio. Believe me when I say that our area is familiar with vacationers.
Planning a family vacation can be fun. Anticipation runs high when plans are made, and there’s a sense of excitement thinking about how much fun everyone will have. As vacation time approaches, excitement is too often replaced with anxiety. There is stress getting everything and everybody ready to go. You have to pack, take care of the pets, go to the bank, and a million other last minute details.
Then comes the vacation itself. Travel is a nightmare. It’s hot. People are everywhere. You play all day and stay up all night. And when you finally get home, you’re so tired you need a vacation to recover from your vacation. What happened?
Because most of us can afford little time away, we must take advantage of the time we get. Vacations are important times to recover our energy, our perspective, and our sanity. In order for that to happen, we have to know how to enjoy a vacation. Here are some ideas on how to vacation like a pro.
1. Vacation should be refreshing
This is spelled R-E-S-T. Most people on vacation are tired and in need of physical rest. We arrive at our vacation destination like our cell phones that have 5% battery life left. What we need is to be plugged in and recharged.
It’s normal to want to squeeze every last second of fun out of a vacation, but what your body and mind need when you’re pooped is physical recovery. Get plenty of sleep. Don’t feel guilty for being lazy. Take turns watching the kids. Work on getting your energy back.
2. Vacation should be recreation
This is spelled F-U-N. Remember when you were sitting at your house or office back home, dreaming of vacation, and thinking, “I can’t wait to go on vacation so I can….” How you finish that sentence is how you describe fun. It will be different for everybody. For some, fun involves physical activity like golf, skiing, or biking. For many families, fun means theme parks. And for others, fun involves a good book or a Netflix binge. Whatever is fun for you is what vacations should involve.
3. Vacation should be restoration
Before becoming a pastor, I worked in the medical field, and attached to my belt 24/7 was my pager. Although having a pager was stressful, I eventually got used to carrying it. It became just another part of my life. Then, when I turned it in for the last time, I was taken back by its absence. I had completely forgotten the feeling of being free from the potential of answering a page.
Life is like that. There are so many undercurrents of stress in our daily lives that we eventually grow accustomed to them. And those stresses aren’t exactly benign. Chronic stress can affect sleep patterns, attitudes, and even mental outlook. Before we know it, we’re limping along in life feeling tired, depressed, overwhelmed, and cranky. Our souls and spirits need to be restored. That’s what vacations are for.
If you have a vacation on your horizon, I hope these thoughts help. Vacations are more than interludes between periods of work. They can be life changing if we approach them in the right way. Now get out there and get refreshed, get restored, and have fun. And send me a postcard.