Vacations can be stressful if one isn’t prepared. There are so many small things to worry about. Following the encouragement of one of my doctors, Kyle and I attempted a weekend get-a-way. We used an invitation from my FIL as the perfect excuse. In my Easter Reflection post, I briefly mentioned feeling both scared and excited. I was nervous to travel as its been over a year since my body has seen anything more than fleeting stability. This post by chronic illness blogger, Dave, helped me tremendously. I was excited to spend time with family. I wanted to show my FIL and his girlfriend how grateful we are for the repeated invites, their patience, and subsequent understanding that my body does not always cooperate with what Kyle or I want to do. I wanted everything to go perfectly so they could see how much we wanted to be there.
In my constant analyzing for the sake of improvement, I decided to share what has helped smooth out our vacations. Planning ahead allows our family to intentionally focus our energy. With time, I am sure this list will continue to evolve and change as we learn more and more about what works for us (and hopefully add a couple of family members). I hope you’ll share your tips for your family with me!
- Know your family’s limits. Kyle and I had vastly different vacation styles growing up. Kyle’s family traveled in luxury with days spent leisurely relaxing. Our family vacations started before the sun was up and finished long after the sun was set. Our dad packed our days, always wanting to fit as much as he possibly could into every moment, often leaving us exhausted and excited to curl up in our beds at night (as an adult, I am now wondering if that was part of my dad’s master plan). As my husband and I lovingly share stories of our childhood, we often find that blending the two worlds is what works for us. My current physical state makes me embrace the leisurely pace he is accustomed to. My wild, and sometimes exaggerated, storytelling makes my husband want get out and move – he recently went so far as to say he wanted to take a national park trip with my dad. Easy there. I need to make sure he knows that relaxing is literally scheduled into the day, after the checklist of sights and adventures has been accomplished. I joke. Sort of.
- One firm limit that Kyle and I have is an empty calendar the day of arrival. This is rarely negotiable. It allows Kyle to find his center and prepare for the adventures ahead. It allows my body time to adjust to the new environment. Open communication with our families helps this limit to go by without a hitch.
- Packing well in advance. Weeks before the trip, I begin making a list of everything to be packed. Call me a bit of a planner – Futuristic is my number one strength and Strategic is my number three strength by Gallup. As an adolescent, I made these lists to combat my short-term memory difficulty, and so I would not get scolded for leaving something behind. If only I had known at the time how helpful that would be in life. Currently, I have found that doing this prevents stressful last minute outings to grab forgotten items hours before the trip. Writing it down allows Kyle and I to take our time evaluating everything we may need. In those moments when I say, “Oh, I can’t forget to pack [insert random item]!”, I jot it down in our Evernote list. Using Evernote allows Kyle and I to share a list, and take it with us on our trip. I use the same list when it is time to return home, making sure everything that left home arrives back home. This helps prevent special belongings from being left behind.
- Layers of clothing. Vacations are notorious for me being freezing in a store one moment, then hot outside at dinner a moment later. Packing layers for all types of weather helps me feel like I can tackle any situation that gets thrown our way.
- Wellness items. Feeling better easily makes for a better vacation. Consistency is important for our health. Remembering to pack items that are in our everyday wellness routine is essential to our vacation experience and recovery afterward. Additional sun protection with sunscreens and hats are must haves for us!
- Your morning routine. I am not telling you to pack your kitchen sink. Then it wouldn’t be a get-a-way. But, if part of your morning routine gives you satisfaction or prepares you for a better day, why not include it on your break from reality? I take my morning devotional and prayer intention book. Doing this before Kyle wakes helps me feel rejuvenated and gratuitous. It’s hard to have a bad time when I feel like that.
- A book. Whether you’re driving or flying, there is foreseeable waiting. Books help assuage the waiting and potential sleepless nights exacerbated by a travel environment.
- Earplugs. Let’s face it, senses can be heightened on vacation. If you’re a light sleeper to begin with, packing earplugs can make the difference between a poor and decent night’s sleep. Our room at The Pearl was cozy and fun with the mid-century modern décor, mirrored ceilings, and pool and restaurant steps from our window. While the design is certainly fun, our earplugs saved us on evenings we wanted a low key setting alone in our room. A good night sleep help set us up for a positively memorable vacation.
- A good attitude. Mishaps are inevitable. The sooner one realizes this, the more likely one’s positivity can engender a lasting memory rather than a botched vacation.
- A great travel partner. If you’re not traveling alone, a great travel partner can certainly influence your trip. Regarding our non-bending limit of an empty calendar the first day of a trip, someone offered encouragement that at least we know what we are working with in each other. Reflecting over this has made me realize just how essential a great travel partner is. Kyle and I do take time to reflect, to evaluate what has worked, what could be better, and how we are going to make it better. In vacation and life. That collective reflection is how we arrived at our “first day limit”. I couldn’t be more thankful for my life long travel partner.
Our weekend away was wonderful. Family time, exploring time and downtime made me eager for another trip!
Following vacation, I came down with a nasty virus that I unfortunately passed on to Kyle. This trend of post vacation sickness has left me wondering if I can plan for this by taking an additional supplement when I am on vacation. I am eager to hear your suggestions. How do you keep from getting sick or run down after a vacation?
For now….vaya con Dios.