4 Tips for Making Your Vacation Meaningful
It’s time to plan your next vacation (and of course we want you to book a charter aboard Take Me There for your next vacation!), but if you decide to do something other than a sailing charter, we really hope you’re thinking about making your vacation meaningful.
Meaningful? What’s that? You’re right- most people do not think about meaningful as a way to describe their vacation. Most of the time people choose to think about having a fun vacation, a relaxing trip, or an adventurous journey. Meaningful is not usually the first word that comes to mind. So why should you care about making your vacation meaningful?
Making your vacation meaningful is really all about planning a trip that makes an impact on your life, has a lasting impression on others’ lives (especially your children), and has the potential to change you. The added bonus is that by making your vacation meaningful you usually end up having more fun, being more relaxed, and making more positive memories.
Ok, so that describes what a meaningful vacation is, but WHY should you care about making it meaningful? Great question! Wherever you go and whatever you do on vacation, you are going away for a reason, right? You are usually taking a vacation to see new sights, escape from the current routine, visit with family and friends, or just rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul. Whatever the reason you are taking a vacation, why not get the most out of the time and money that you are investing in this trip?
Making your vacation meaningful elevates the perceived worth of your vacation (Wouldn’t you like all your vacations to be worth a million dollars?), increases the significance of the experiences in your life (Isn’t it great that your kids talk about certain vacations years later?), and has the potential to transform that way you think about things or interact with the world (Wouldn’t it be amazing to come back from vacation with new perspectives?)
So now that you have an idea of what a meaningful vacation is and why you would be interested in making your vacation meaningful, now let’s look at HOW to do it.
Many other folks who write about making vacations meaningful come from the perspective of the activities to engage in that would make your vacation meaningful like going on a mission trip, spending time in nature, engaging with people in different cultures, or buying products that are locally made. My perspective on making your vacation meaningful comes from within yourself rather than what you choose to do. Whether you choose to go hiking, visit new cultures, be with nature or take the kids to Disney World, making a meaningful vacation will enhance your fun factor, and change the way you look at many activities in your life, not just how you take a vacation.
Here is a bit of background on the origin of these 4 tips for making a meaningful vacation. For the last 7 years, I have created an intention to guide my thoughts and perspectives during that year. I set the intention on January 1 each year, and then let that intention guide me as I move through the events of that year. It has been uncanny how each of these intentions almost seemed to be a premonition or a divine inspiration of what was needed to survive and thrive during that upcoming year.
For example, when I determined my 2020 intention to Create Balance, I had no idea that we would be facing the world COVID pandemic and there would be an urgent emotional need to create a balance between staying safe and maintaining connections with family and friends. Or the balance that was needed when Steve and I were renovating Take Me There at the same time that my dad was dying of cancer. Repeating the intention to Create Balance over and over reminded me to not make decisions that were so lopsided that I forgot the importance of the other responsibilities and passions in my life. This intention, as with all the other year’s intentions, helped me to remain mindful of my thoughts, deliberate in my actions, and grounded in my goals.
When we took our two-month RV vacation this past summer, I had plenty of downtime to reflect and allow my mind to wander in ways that I don’t usually get to. The last several years’ intentions kept coming to mind as we really immersed ourselves in the delights of new places and visiting with family and friends. After returning home, I realized how meaningful this trip was to us and our family and how the past few years’ intentions were the guiding principles of making our vacation meaningful. We hope you find these tips helpful as you move toward making meaningful vacations for you and your family.
1. Find Joy – In 2015, my grandmother died and my world was forever changed. Even though I was 49 years old, age does not matter when you lose someone important to you. I was not only sad, I felt lost, insignificant, and guilty that I was enjoying life without my grandmother. I was in a dark and gloomy place. My 2016 intention was to Find Joy to help me reevaluate my feelings about my grandmother’s death and to help me find joy in my life again.
When we were on vacation this past summer, there were things that happened that I did not plan for that had the potential to make me feel frustrated, rushed, or disappointed. Reservations were unexpectedly canceled, it rained on days that we planned to be outside, and plans were suddenly changed. By reminding myself to Find Joy, I was able to divert my attention away from potential disappointments and refocus on new delights.
We ended up jumping in mud puddles, tasting new dishes at unknown restaurants, and discovering waterfalls that were off the beaten path. Possible disappointments were not even on the horizon, but instead, surprising joys were found. The process of staying focused on finding unforeseen joys created amazingly meaningful memories. Are there moments when finding joy would have contributed toward making your vacation meaningful?
2. Make Space – In 2014, 3 years after we got married, Steve and I moved from our 2500 square foot house into Take Me There, 420 square feet. I’m not going to lie, living in closer quarters was a huge adjustment. Tighter living spaces were a clear physical reminder that we needed to make space for each other. But making space was bigger than our physical dwelling. My 2015 intention to Make Space inspired me to make space for more of Steve’s unconventional ideas, his hobbies, and his opinions.
When on vacation, it’s easy for one person to drive the events of the day and the others to tag along just to be together. Allowing everyone in the group to choose an event, a restaurant, or an activity prompts us to compromise, exposes us to different things, and motivates us to prioritize the ideas of the people that are important to us. Making Space for everyone’s plans and passions supports making your vacation meaningful so that everyone feels included and an important part of the vacation planning. Making space means putting the ideas of others ahead of your own and allowing their ideas to take priority. Are there moments during your vacations when making space for others’ wishes would have made for a meaningful vacation?
3. Create Balance – I’ve already mentioned the personal background of Creating Balance in 2020. During our two-month vacation this past year, we recognized the importance of creating balance when we were going 90 miles an hour day after day exploring new places that we had not seen before. It’s no wonder we were exhausted at the end of the day. This exhaustion left us with little energy to enjoy quiet time with each other. After many days of exploring to the point of near lifelessness, we realized we were checking a lot of sights off our list, but we were not really finding the joy in the experience.
Creating Balance reminded us that we needed to set priorities for each day as to the most important sights or events and allocate time for rest, and quiet time. Extending yourself and your family to the point of collapse is not only not fun but can leave you irritable or short-tempered, which can ultimately lead to undesirable memories. This naturally detracts from making your vacation meaningful. Reminding yourself to create balance prompts you to set priorities which include rest and downtime.
4. Be Still- Being still is my current intention for 2022. As somewhat of an extreme extrovert, my mind, my mouth, and my body work overtime. I am constantly thinking of the next thing I’m going to do or say. Sometimes an overactive mind (and mouth) is not always a good thing. I find that I can often interrupt people or spend more time thinking about what I am going to say rather than listening to what others are saying. This intention has been so beneficial to me.
Prompting myself to Be Still gives me the permission I need to shut off my brain, my body, and my voice. I can allow myself to enjoy the tranquility found in stillness. I don’t need to fill in every empty space of time in a conversation with endless chatter or fill up every moment of the day with activities. I can just be still. I must admit that it is often difficult to do this.
Have you ever been so busy with work, family, home life, volunteering, and all your other responsibilities that you have trouble shutting things off? Do you find that the first few days of vacation are difficult because your mind is still focused on work or other obligations? Do you ever feel guilty because you feel like you are “doing nothing”? Being still is not “doing nothing”. It is knowingly respecting the space that lies between. The space between two people, two events, two thoughts, or two entities. There is something freeing about being still. In yoga, this concept is known as savasana, a time to let go of the distractions of the body and simply rest. And isn’t resting our soul what making a meaningful vacation is all about?
Sometimes, it seems that we return from vacation feeling more worn out or depleted than when we left. A meaningful vacation focused on finding joy, making space, creating balance, and being still found us feeling rejuvenated and connected when we returned home from vacation. How do these tips resonate with you? How do you think that focusing on these tips would make your vacation meaningful? We hope you enjoy making your vacation meaningful! We’d love to hear all about it!