With the approach of spring vacations, we are headed for full-swing travel season. Shortly after the Spring breaks end, summer vacations start. I don’t know about you, but some folks seem hell-bent on turning vacations into paramilitary excursions. They have timetables, itineraries, agendas, budgets, goals, supply inventories, and checkpoints. Ugh! This would drive me crazy. I love vacations that take me away from these things. Just getting to and coming from any vacation can be a job. So what happens when the time you’re supposed to be spending “relaxing” becomes another job, demand, or obligation? You guessed it: somebody’s going to lose his or her cool.
Ever get bumped from your flight? Have you ever had a flat tire on a long drive, or lose your wallet while traveling? Vacations are a prime time for anger to get out of control.
Things go wrong when we travel that make simple problems ten times their normal size. We forget or lose an important personal item. One time on a weekend trip, my wife forgot her prescription allergy medicine. Suddenly, a simple trip to the pharmacy became a huge project. I remember another vacation with friends that resulted in our SUV being stuck in a ravine for most of the trip.
When things blind-side us on vacations, our usual protections can become ineffective. On the road, the potential for these problems dramatically increases. Still, we Americans love to travel. We are more spread-out than other countries, except maybe Canada, so holidays, family events, and vacations usually mean traveling by car or plane to our destinations.
If you are planning a travel vacation to reduce your level of tension, you might be expecting too much from the trip. Traveling does not calm people. It often makes tension worse. Now, I am not advocating that people stop taking vacations to exciting and fun destinations. However, I am advocating a saner approach to vacations.
Being one who does not enjoy being rushed, I like to make sure my vacations actually rejuvenate me. Going “around the world” in two weeks is NOT a plan for rest. It is a plan for a heart attack or a raging outburst. Here’s a short list of things to consider for reducing stress and helping make your vacation restful instead of a seasonal career change:
1. Limit the number of events you plan to attend. Make time for “savoring” an experience. If the experience becomes boring, you can always add something but if it’s better than you imagined, you don’t want to cut it short for some abstract agenda. Vacations are for “relaxing and enjoying.”
2. Make room in your schedule to change it if someone else can’t keep their emotions to themselves. Remember, other people will be stressed from over-planning their trip to the same destination.
3. Minimize alcohol consumption. Nothing ruins a break faster than someone who is out of control. There are other ways to unwind that are safer and much more effective.
4. Make the experience …