If you feel like your vacations come and go too quickly, then you might be among the many travelers who are not yet taking full advantage of their time off.
The effect of travel should be that you come out of a trip feeling replenished, grateful, changed, inspired or simply pumped about life. But if your vacations aren’t quite resulting in those positive changes, it’s probably for a number of reasons that can easily be addressed.
So how can you take full advantage of your travels and feel fulfilled and transformed after a trip? How can you feel like you've taken a true mental health vacation?
1. Set yourself up to unplug.
It’s easy to recommend to someone to simply “unplug” while traveling. Turn off your devices. Don’t check your phone. Don’t check your emails. While it’s all good advice, it should come with an important precursor: set yourself up to unplug fully while you’re traveling. You've got to put in some prep to be ready for a vacation for mental health. That means putting a bow on all projects you’re working on, coordinate with your co-workers to take over for you while you’re gone, set up away emails with dates that you’ll be out, and make sure anything that might require your attention can be taken care of by someone else.
2. Do one thing that is unplanned.
While many aspects of your trip might feel unplanned (delays!), do at least one thing that is intentionally unplanned. While you’re at your destination, keep your eyes open for opportunities to try something you hadn’t already heard of or read about online. An open mic at the local pub? A tour of an ancient site? Keep your eyes open for opportunities to embrace your spontaneity.
3. Make room for down time.
You don’t constantly have to be doing things when you’re traveling. Being in a new environment is actually enough to stimulate your senses and help you unwind from your routine days. So kick back and relax; this is vacation after all.
4. If you can’t control it, don’t stress; and if you can control it, don’t stress.
As any experienced traveler will tell you, unexpected things will always happen on any trip. So don’t feel stressed, and if anything, look forward to it. Sometimes the least expected things turn out to be the best part of your trip - or at least they become great stories to share when you get back!
5. Punctuate each part of your trip with a special somethin’.
More than taking photos or selfies in front of everything, try to punctuate milestones with something local and unique. Take a shot, say a prayer, toss a coin and make a wish. Whatever works (and is allowed).
6. Go beyond the Internet.
You're more likely to feel satisfied by your travels if you discover something on your own. Skip Trip Advisor and Yelp and just go out in the world and explore. There are always new places waiting to be discovered and your trip could easily become more personal and memorable.
Overall, it's important to make the most of your next vacation by reminding yourself to stay present, focus on the positive, and go with the flow. No matter what, things will turn out fine and you'll have lots of new memories and stories to share with friends and family down the line!
Ready to start traveling the world? Check out FTLO's upcoming group trips to beautiful destinations around the world!