Hello, all! Welcome back to Sit, Stay, & Blog!
Summer is undeniably just a few short weeks away from having come and gone. This time of the year is marked by the anticipation of last-minute vacations for some and the reflection of everlasting vacation memories for others. As a spinoff from one of my very first blog posts, “What It Means To: Come Back From Vacation!”, this post will focus on the nitty-gritty of going on vacation: the planning, packing, arranging, accompanying stress and anxiety, and ultimately, the sheer excitement!
In less than four hours, Alex and I will be embarking on another trip to our favorite vacation destination. Vacation for us has proven to be a time for mindfulness. With our undivided attention on the swaying palm trees, salty smell of the ocean breeze, sounds of hungry seagulls flying overhead, and the light sting of a fresh sunburn, we begin to forget about the stresses of everyday life. Suddenly, the student loan payments, anticipated stress of the upcoming academic semester, the hunt for housing, and general worries about the future become minuscule. We become at peace with the opportunity to truly relax for the first time since our last vacation!
From my personal experiences, however, this state of total relaxation on vacation does not come naturally. Thanks to the technologically advanced society we live in, we are “blessed” with around-the-clock access to local news, world news, social media outlets, text messages, voicemails, phone calls, etc., all within arm’s reach. How can one possibly ever relax?
The short answer: It takes work. As you approach vacation, it’s important to make a vow to yourself to limit your digital exposure and plan accordingly for this prior to your departure. For you “worker bees,” your planning might entail advising coworkers, bosses, etc. that you will be on vacation with limited to no access to email, personal cell phones, work cell phones, etc. Setting an automatic reply on your email accounts informing people that you are away from email is another excellent planning strategy! As far as socially, you might consider letting friends and family know you won’t be checking your phone frequently while on vacation. With regard to social media, I’ve found that logging out of all accounts lessens the temptation to mindlessly scroll through the latest posts and updates (possibly because I’m too lazy to type my username and password with each login!). Once you have your plans in place, it’s up to you to abide by them or nix them altogether when on vacation. While it can require a great deal of work to remain mindful, engaged, relaxed, and not pestered by nuisances (digital or otherwise) while on vacation, just remember: “If there’s a will, there’s a way!”
Learning how to mindfully and deliberately relax on vacation is just one of many steps to going on vacation. What about the planning? The packing? The last-minute cleaning? The list could go on, but here are a few strategies to help mitigate any pre-vacation stressors:
When going on vacation, it’s important to start early. While sometimes you can get lucky with last-minute deals at hotels trying to book full occupancy the week before, I’ve found that it’s much less stressful to plan months in advance. For a summer vacation, I personally begin my search for lodging in January and aim to have a place booked by March. Sites such as VRBO and HomeAway are great tools to use to narrow your search when you are looking for something specific. I have used VRBO faithfully upon booking vacation lodging arrangements, and with the help of their filters and my persistence, I’ve rented various cozy, clean, comfortable beachfront condos for less than $700/week! Not a bad deal considering the cost of many oceanfront properties can leave you digging deep into those pockets! Side note: Sometimes hotels offer a discounted rate for patrons who call to book versus those who book online! All in all, if you want to get a good deal, be persistent! Check for deals or seasonal specials on vacation destination websites, hotel websites, and the like. When booking online, be sure that the site is secure and that there exists some form of payment protection included with the website you’re using.
Next: Transportation. Will you drive? Fly? When driving, be sure to do a visual inspection of your car, check and add fluids (if needed), check tire pressures, replace windshield wipers (You never know what kind of monsoons you might drive into on your journey…right, Alex?). Don’t forget to plan ahead for parking! Is there a free parking garage? Free street parking? Do you need to obtain an ID card to hang in your car? Call ahead to your hotel or condominium owner to obtain all the answers! If you choose to fly, whether you’re a first-time or a frequent flyer, the Transportation Security Administration has created a handy-dandy guide for what you can and cannot bring on planes: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/whatcanibring/all.
The Making Arrangements:
Next comes the hard part for pet owners everywhere: will Fido stay or will Fido come? Either decision is okay as I assure you your pet will still love you when you return! When deciding to take Fido, assess whether or not they can handle the car ride and the stress of being in a totally new environment. Ask yourself if you can cope with possible changes in your pet’s behavior that sometimes accompanies a new environment.
When leaving Fido at home, consider having them stay with a trusted family member, friend, or neighbor. As an alternative, perhaps you can “hire” your teenage niece or nephew to come house-sit. That way, Fido can remain in the comfort of their own home, and you will have peace of mind that your house is safe and secure while you’re away! My sister and I did this yearly for my aunt, and while she presumably enjoyed having her dog and house cared for, I very much enjoyed the mini stay-cations at her house as well (and the extra cash was nice too…Thanks, Aunt Kim!)! If neither of those options are feasible, research local boarding businesses and sift through reviews before deciding which one might be best for your four-legged friend(s). Just remember: As a pet owner, you’re entitled to (and should demand) daily photos and updates of your pooch’s stay-cation (Right, Mom and Dad?). 😉
Now, maybe it’s just me, but it seems like going on vacation presents as the perfect time to scrub the house clean from top to bottom. The bedding gets washed, throw rugs get scrubbed, old clothes get donated, expired foods get tossed, and so on, and so on. Quite frankly, I don’t understand these behaviors. Perhaps it’s the desire to come home to a perfectly clean home? Maybe it’s a way of easing one’s mind that everything at home has been taken care of so that there’s no stresses upon returning home? While I may never truly know the answer, one thing is for sure: I just finished cleaning the last dirty dish in the sink, and I couldn’t feel more satisfied! 😉
Packing can be dreadful, but it doesn’t have to be! The key is to pack smarter, not harder! In my family, I am known as the “master packer,” which I presume is because of my abilities to pack an entire years’ worth of dorm supplies (mini fridge, clothes, microwave, decor, you name it) in the trunk and back seat of my 2004 Subaru Legacy!
Enjoy these generic packing lists for your use when planning your next vacation. There’s even one for Fido too!
Human Packing List:
- Clothing (shorts, pants, dresses/skirts, undergarments, shirts, tank tops, belts)
- Shoes (flip flops, sneakers, casual footwear)
- Bathing suits and beach towels
- Sunscreen, aloe vera, after-sun lotion
- Medications (headache, prescription, supplements, allergy, etc.)
- Chargers (cell phone, laptop, tablet, camera/video, etc.)
- Bed sheets, blankets, pillows, pillowcases
- Bath towels, dish towel, washrags, dish soap
- Plates, napkins, paper towels, utensils
- Toilet paper
- Disinfectant wipes
- Cash, credit/debit card, wallet
- Shampoo, conditioner, hair spray/gel
- Body wash/soap, face wash, lotion, razors, deodorant
- Contact solution, extra contacts, glasses
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, dental floss
- Makeup, makeup remover
- Q-tips, cotton balls
- Hair ties, bobby pins, headbands
- Hair straightener, curling iron, blow dryer, brush/comb
- Spare car key
- Food, coolers, sandwich bags for snacks
Pet Packing List:
- Vet records, veterinary office phone number
- Favorite treats, snacks
- Meals (in an airtight container!)
- Blanket, bed
- Favorite toys
- Leashes, harnesses, identification tags
- Pet wipes, ear cleaner
- Old personal t-shirt (particularly if your pet experiences separation anxiety)
- Feeding instructions
I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed creating it. If you notice anything that I forgot to add to the packing lists, comment below! If you’re like me and haven’t yet gone on your vacation, my hope for you is that you enjoy it and can find peace, happiness, and relaxation. If you’ve already gone on vacation, I hope you feel rested and energized! If taking a vacation is out of reach for you, I hope you can practice mindfulness at home to ensure a happy, healthy physical and emotional well-being!
Until next time,