Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer
Vacation. For some people the word conjures up images of sandy beaches, mountain cabins or just a sunny day hanging in the back yard. But what if you’re one of those people for whom the idea of sitting idle makes you feel anxious, unproductive and wasteful of time and money? Yep, I’m one of those people too.
I never understood the concept of vacation. I mean, really, what good does it do? For me, having down time means rest, to stop burning energy and recover. I can’t get into the idea of exhausting yourself for no good reason. So how do you actually get some relaxation on vacation? Here are some tips.
First, scale it back. Whenever someone talks about an upcoming vacation and the itinerary is jam packed with back-to-back activity, I have to wonder how that’s relaxing at all? Try to dial it back a bit and choose one location, maybe one major event, like a dinner out or something, and use the rest of the time to unwind. The more complicated your agenda, the more stressful it will be.
Next, minimize the amount of baggage you take along. People – especially Americans – have a tendency to overpack. Don’t take so much with you. Take only what you need, rather than looking like the Howells on Gilligan’s Island – a different outfit for every hour.
It’s important next to remember why you’re going – just to get away. It really doesn’t matter where you go as long as it’s a change of scenery and day-to-day activity. Make sure you get away and get a break.
Finally, turn off the tech. No kidding, leave the iPhone in the car or packed in a bag or something. Don’t take laptops or tablets. How about a book, you know, the paper kind with pages and ink? They never need to be recharged and are super cheap. If you’re on vacation with family and friends, spend time with them, not with Facebook and Twitter. Relax and put down the tech for a while.
I’d imagine I sound like a pretty big wet blanket, but I just don’t care for the beach, or water in general, and forget a cruise. If I’m going to a monstrous hotel, I want it to be attached to dry land. There are just some vacation choices I can’t understand.
Take camping, for example. My mom and dad loved taking the whole family to one of the local state parks for a weekend of the great outdoors. I grew up on a farm, with plenty of wildlife, grassland and woods, so “the great outdoors” was all around me. I didn’t see the point in paying to see more of the same. I liked being with the family, but otherwise I just never got it.
Today, I spend a great deal of money on a mortgage so that I don’t have to cook, eat and sleep outside. But some people spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours on just such pursuits.
I like nature as much as the next person, but camping is so much work you might just as well have stayed at your job. Building a fire, food prep and cooking, setting up the tent, all the equipment and the planning always left me exhausted, not rejuvenated.
What about fishing? Yuck. I really don’t see the “sport” in it and I’m not eating anything that came out of the water around where I live. I’ve never been a fan of freshwater fish in the first place, so I’m probably not the best judge on that one anyway.
And don’t get me started on camping trailers. I mean, what’s the point? Why go out to the woods to camp and just hole up in a rolling hotel room with satellite TV and Wi-Fi?
According to most financial sources I reviewed, wealthy Americans spend an average of $13,000 on vacation, annually. What puzzles me is when someone who normally complains about being unable to pay bills suddenly posts photos from their recent trip to Florida. How does that not add to stress instead of relieving it?
Of course, I know all the psychological and medical reasons one should take a break from work and refresh. But to spend money you don’t have and time that could be better used in some other way has always been a foreign concept to me.
Over the last decade, between work, maintaining my home and caring for my parents, I’ve rarely had a day off anyway. But, when I do, there is plenty to fill my time without my having to invent something.
When I do choose to relax, I’d prefer it had something to do with a nice hotel, music, a book and a long car drive. And I make choices that I can afford, not overload credit cards while my bills lay unpaid. That’s just ridiculous.
The point is that, while I have little interest in the usual vacation options, I do understand the need to relax. You should do whatever helps you unwind, but be mindful of how much stress the activity adds to your daily life and how much money you have to spend on it.
Taking a break doesn’t mean you have to empty your wallet. Consider something that actually allows you to rest, rather than waste energy and money doing the same thing every year. Whatever you choose, remember the point is to spend time with family and away from the daily grind.
Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at deerinheadlines.com.