Most Americans enjoy an average of ten paid vacation days per year, about half as much as our European counterparts. With time off at such a premium, the last thing you want is to spend your beach days stressing about accounts, deadlines, and housekeeping.
Seeing a far-away vista might be the perfect way to spend your vacation, but knowing that your home and livelihood are so far away can also be stressful. If you have trouble putting the office out of mind, here are five secrets to a relaxing, worry-free vacation.
Eliminate stressors before boarding
Flying is nerve-racking. Once they close that door, you’re stuck in a metal tube with virtually no contact to the ground for however many hours until you land. The knowledge that a lot can happen in a few hours coupled with the inability to do anything about it is a recipe for anxiety. Eliminate stressors back home before boarding to ensure a good start to your vacation.
Leaving behind your house can make it hard to leave behind your worry. If you get stressed about leaving appliances on by accident or forgetting to lock your door, film a video of yourself doing all of the above before leaving for the airport. Alternatively, hire a house sitter you trust to ensure that everything is taken care of in your absence.
You can also employ a virtual address if you’re worried about losing essential deliveries to porch pirates. A virtual address intercepts mail on your behalf and allows you to view it from anywhere in the world, meaning you won’t have to worry about what deliveries you may be missing while you’re having fun in the sun.
To avoid stress once you’ve arrived at the airport, print multiple copies of documents and be sure to provide yourself plenty of time (2-3 hours for domestic flights) to check in and pass through security before boarding.
Automate your work email
How can you expect to get away from work if you bring it with you? Before leaving on vacation, delegate all your responsibilities and set an automated out-of-office reply to your email. If necessary, delete your email app from your phone to prevent yourself from checking it while on vacation. You don’t get much time purely to yourself, so make sure to protect the time you’re spending with your family and friends.
Decide between vacay and stay-cay
Just because jet-setting to an island paradise or a European city is the typical vacation image doesn’t mean that it’s the only one. If you’re a homebody or there’s somewhere closer to your city that you want to explore, go for it. Vacation time is all about relaxing and unwinding from the pressures of work. Therefore, take whichever path is most relaxing for you personally, whether that’s exploring the French Riviera or knitting at home.
Create a realistic schedule
Though getting up at seven am and going to sleep at midnight every night might be the best way to see as much as possible, it probably won’t be very relaxing. A torrid pace like this might work great for thrill-seekers who are always looking for the next adventure. For others, it could turn a pleasant trip into a chore with tired feet. Be honest with yourself about what kind of schedule you’d like to keep while you’re on vacation, and stick to it.
Plan a budget in advance
You might undo all of the destressing from your vacation in one fell swoop if you get home to a bank account in the red. Before leaving work, plan out a realistic budget for your trip. It should be enough money to splurge and enjoy yourself (this is your vacation, after all), but it should also be within your means. If you want a little extra cash, start saving extra strictly about a month or two before your time off.
Whether it’s curling up at home with a nice book or sunning on an exotic beach, vacation is all about taking the time and care that so often falls by the wayside during our working lives. Planning a few steps ahead can help keep your vacation the self-care exercise it’s meant to be.