The Best Vacations Are a Change of Pace

Life Balance

Nora and Tim help you find balance when dealing with a stressful debt situation. Learn how to manage stress and enjoy travel without breaking the bank.

The Best Vacations Are a Change of Pace

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When I was a little boy, my workaholic dad learned the important lesson that the best vacations are the ones that differ the most from your normal routine:

  • If you normally get up early, sleep in.
  • If you're normally sedentary, stay active.
  • If your everyday life is frenetic, let vacation be lazy! And so on. 

The idea is that your vacation should force you to shift gears -- mentally, physically, emotionally -- so that you can return to your normal life with a fresh perspective. 

(By the way, even though Dad learned this lesson 30 years ago, it matches well with a lot of brain research that's been done since then: the neuroscientists have figured out that we need novel experiences to shake up our old ways of thinking.) 

For most of us, "vacation" implies "travel," so it's tempting to think that we must go someplace far away if we want to change the pace of our lives. But that's not necessarily true. Sure, if you live in the city, a vacation in the mountains might be great. If you live in the country, you might have a wonderful time traveling to the big city. 

But whatever your budget of money or time, don't get hung up on destinations. You could have a great vacation anywhere  -- even at home -- so long as you change up your routine

Here are 20 ways to shake things up on your vacation, whether you're sleeping on a cruise ship, in a tent, or in your own bed:

  1. No television. For one week of the year, you can make your own entertainment without staring at the magic box.
  2. No e-mail. When I'm going on vacation, I take great relish in typing "without access to e-mail or voicemail" in my out-of-office notice. Life will go on without you.
  3. No Web surfing. The harder this seems to do, the more you need the break.
  4. No social networking. Your friends on Facebook will get along without you for a few days.
  5. Go vegetarian. Or eat all spicy foods. Or eat only foods that you cook yourself. Or only the local delicacies. But shake it up!
  6. Be a neat freak. If you usually create clutter, let this be the week that you keep the decks clear. Or if you're already a neat freak, let this be the one time all year when you let the laundry pile up.
  7. Wear what's in the back of your closet. Who knows what you'll find back there?
  8. Go barefoot. Like a little kid.
  9. Play cards. When's the last time you sat down with you family and played hearts or rummy? Or had a serious Go Fish session with the kids? Vacation is the perfect time for this.
  10. Write letters. You know, the kind you put postage stamps on.
  11. Read books. No magazines, no newspapers, no catalogs.
  12. Do things all the way to the end. Modern life is often about interruptions; let your vacation be about completions.
  13. Avoid saying negative things. Life is beautiful, especially when you're on vacation. Let your words and thoughts reflect this.
  14. Walk. Park the car and take a hike, even if it's just to your local grocery store. You'll look at your surroundings with new eyes.
  15. Swim. In a hotel pool, in a creek, in the ocean.
  16. Climb. A hill or a tree or a rocky outcrop-- let yourself be a kid again.
  17. Don't shave. A week won't kill you. (Or, for the men who wear a beard, consider cutting it off and starting over.)
  18. Take a soak in the tub. Spoil yourself.
  19. Get dirt on your hands. In your own garden, building a campfire, or whatever -- constant cleanliness is overrated.
  20. Sleep 10 hours a night. Most of us deal with unhealthy sleep deficits as a matter of course. For one week, let yourself turn in early and sleep until you wake up. 

Now, over to you: how can YOU change the pace on your vacation -- regardless of where you are or how much you spend?

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  • My friend -- who has young children -- expressed surprise that my sister and I didn't fight throughout the thousands of miles in the car. I clarified that it wasn't all harmony and light between the two of us, but I also explained that my father had been

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