In my experience, the days leading up to vacation are – without exception – pure madness. I think of it as the storm before the calm: a whirlwind of work and email and packing lists and reservations and plans.
I’ve arrived at many a destination bleary-eyed and cranky and not at all ready to enjoy my downtime. Before I can let myself relax, I have to be completely burnt out, right?
I’m self-employed and often have a hard time taking a laptop-free, out-of-office-reply-activated vacation. But I’m getting better at doing this at least a few times a year, especially when visiting a new place or spending time with family. I want to be fully present for those experiences – not glued to a screen.
I’m taking a couple weeks off for a family trip later this month, and I’m attempting to minimize my normal pre-vacation mayhem in a few ways:
- Not feeling guilty about taking time off: Americans don’t have a great culture around getting and taking vacation days, and it’s not healthy. I’m trying to take a cue from the Europeans and think of vacation as a necessity. The world will keep spinning while I’m gone, and I’ll come back better for it.
- Using the deadline to my advantage: I get things done when I have a hard deadline, so I’m using my departure date as motivation to tie up loose ends – like refilling prescriptions and getting work projects approved – before I leave.
- Packing early: Leaving my suitcase for the last minute is perhaps my greatest source of stress before a trip (it was my Get It Together in Episode 2: How to Set Resolutions & Goals). This time, I’m taking our listener Margaret’s great tip of starting to pack gradually a week in advance. She wrote on our Facebook page: “Every time I see it, I get a little buzz of excitement at my upcoming escape, and I feed it with things that I think I'll need as I go.”
- Getting excited about the fun stuff: I’m going on a trip. That’s a good thing, and I’m grateful for it. I get to see people I love (including Melia!) very soon, which is a wonderful light at the end of the tunnel. I also have a list of books, bars, and restaurants I’m looking forward to checking out on my trip.
So get ready, vacation, I’m comin’ for you!