How “offline” are you on vacation? The last time I took a serious vacation without a smart phone was 2009–three weeks in Western Europe. Even so, I checked in with my email once a week. Some folks considered that too often, some not nearly enough. As a result, I suspect that this post will meet with mixed reactions, from being seen as terribly naive to overly stuffy. Either or both are possible. Still, for my last blog posting before I head out on vacation next week, I am making a plea today that you take the time to live in the moment and turn off your smart phone–or at least your social media accounts.
Researchers have determined that it takes at least eight to ten days off from a full-time job to experience a measurable increase in happiness and well-being. Otherwise, you’ll come back to work having not experienced actual relaxation.
Those of you saying, “Easy for you to say!” haven’t done a good job of counting your vacation time. If you take off five days in a row between a regular weekend and a three-day holiday, you’ll have ten days right there. If something’s important, you’ll make the time. Relaxation in the era of 24-hour crisis news and COVID would seem a necessity, yes?
And while I realize this plea might fall on deaf ears with my more extroverted readers, I am still suggesting that you limit or turn off your social media accounts. Post your selfies and videos when you get back. This is an opportunity to turn your easy socializing powers toward the strangers around you in whatever new and exciting location you’re inhabiting. If you truly get a charge out of interacting with other people, try analog and give the electronic a rest.
And for my fellow introverts who are not as excited about social media but spend a lot of time buried in books or other quiet, internalized pursuits, I’m suggesting that you close the book (it’s not a sin, I checked!) and take a look at the new environment(s) around you.
Finding Activities That Suit You
I’ve taken to doing a lot more research before my vacations: learning not just about the places I’m visiting but the type of vacation the travel company is providing. Are you an extrovert and looking for different types of stimulation to occupy your time? Head for a “party place” like New Orleans or a Carnival cruise. Are you an introvert? You might try a cruise on a smaller ship or one more focused on enrichment and educational tours, or perhaps try a vacation that allows you to shut down the inputs and try the beach, museums, or quiet walks through nature. To unwind from your work, it’s best to fill your mind and body with experiences that suit your tastes.
My sister the travel agent invited me to an online seminar on future travel opportunities; one of the presenters was from Carnival Cruises, and their representative stated that their cruises were geared toward “extroverts and people who are interested in engaging with their children.” She messaged me afterward, LOLing: “I’m never getting you on one of their cruises, am I?” If you don’t know what would relax you, ask someone who knows you well to suggest something. (That’s not a sin, either.)
Making the Most of Your Time Off
Vacations are, admittedly, a luxury of the developed world. However, I don’t consider that a sin, just an opportunity. If you think going away is still too much or a waste of resources or whatever, try a “staycation,” but still make sure you are doing things that make you happy. You might like your job, but it’s still worth taking time to answer only to your own interests and perhaps those of your partner, family, or other traveling companions. Your soul will thank you.