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How To Actually Enjoy A Vacation

How to actually enjoy a vacationI’m going on vacation next week- seven glorious days of sun and sand in my favorite place on earth, Ocean City, NJ.

You’d think one wouldn’t need a blog post to learn how to actually enjoy a vacation, but in reality, preparing for a getaway is more challenging than it seems. Getting away is harder than ever, and even when we do manage to take a proper vacation, we’re often still plugged-in and connected to home.

Even though disconnecting is tough, there are things you can do both before you leave and during your trip to plan ahead for a stress-free and fabulous vacation.

Here are six easy ways to prepare for vacation to ensure you actually enjoy your much-deserved getaway.

1. Get ahead at work/home. The last thing you want to do during vacation is worry about work emails or a big freelance project that needs to get finished. This week, I’m spending a ton of time at work (and at home on my freelance work) working ahead and chipping away at my to-do list, so I can completely turn off my email and unplug. For others, getting ahead might mean cleaning their house top-to-bottom, so that they return to a nice, tidy space, post-vacation. Whatever it is that eats away at you while you’re on vacation, think about that now and make a point to do as much as possible ahead of time, so you can leave your worries at home before leaving.

2. Don’t set your expectations too high. Of course, it’s natural to be excited about vacation! You should be; you earned it. But, there’s definitely a danger in going into a situation with unrealistic expectations. For example, I always head into vacation with the hope that I’m going to come home totally relaxed and inspired, with lots of new blog post and business ideas. The reality is that inspiration is often found in the most unlikely of places, and for me, vacation generally isn’t one of them. That’s why I’m going into this vacation with the goal to simply unwind and re-energize, and if a great idea comes out of it? All the better. The point here is that I’m not putting any pressure on this vacation; I’m simply taking it for what it is, obviously hoping to enjoy myself, but not putting any undue stress on making it something it’s not.

3. Accept that you can’t be everywhere and do everything (AKA kick FOMO to the curb). I love our family tradition of going down the shore because we go with a huge group- in total, there’s about 25 of us spread throughout a couple of houses and there’s ALWAYS something going on. There’s never a chance to be bored, which is great, but I also like to remind myself that it’s okay to want to read a book quietly on the deck, with the ocean in the background. I sometimes feel pressure to want to be everywhere and take part in every activity (FOMO at its finest!) because I don’t want to miss out on making an awesome memory, but I try to remind myself that it’s okay to crave alone time, even when traveling with a group.

My sister Jamie and me after a very sweaty boardwalk run.

4. Move. Sure, everyone gains a few pounds on vacation. It may feel good at the time to indulge, but I find that continuing my exercise routine and moving at least a couple times throughout the week helps with that post-vacation slump. I like to use my vacation to switch up my routine; for example, we always rent bikes when we go down the shore, so last year my brother and I challenged ourselves to ride the entire length of Ocean City and back. I also love running on the boardwalk and taking in the sights and sounds, so I actually find I’m MORE motivated to work out and stay fit while on vacation. Plus, nothing beats those early morning sunrises on the beach and when I take the time to workout, I give myself permission to enjoy even more boardwalk food (mmmm…Browns Donuts and Manco and Manco Pizza).

5. Bring proper reading materials and create an awesome vacation playlist. My favorite part of vacation is catching up on my stack of magazines and books that have been collecting dust over the past few months. There’s nothing more relaxing than flipping through a magazine on the deck or indulging in a guilty-pleasure read on the beach. Similarly, I like to download new music before I go on vacation or revamp my existing iTunes library into a new vacation playlist to enjoy on the beach. Book? Check. iPod? Check. Put a fruity drink in my hand and I’m a happy girl on the beach for hours.

6. Unplug. I’ll admit upfront, I most definitely won’t be unplugging completely during my week-long vacation (although I will be turning my work email off….freedom!) However, I do hope to leave my phone behind a couple times when I go to the beach or out to dinner with family and friends. I’ll be using social media to share my vacation; I’ll be tweeting and posting photos on Facebook and Instagram throughout my trip, but I hope to check in on those sites less to see what other people are up to to focus on enjoying my time away to the fullest.

How do you prepare for vacation so that you can enjoy it to the fullest? Share your tips in the comments below!

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Meet Jessica

I live by the saying “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” and help others do the same to reach their biggest, brightest goals. Read my story here.

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