Vacations, oh how I love them. Now I love them anyway. I used to load so much into a vacation that I would come back more exhausted than when I left. I wouldn’t always take care of things before leaving home so I ended up doing more clean-up and triaging my life and didn’t ever feel like I had any sort of vacation at all. At the worst, I felt like I would have rested and enjoyed more if I just went to work and did my usual daily and weekend routine. I knew it had to change because I love traveling (one of my bold Sagittarian traits). But I didn’t want to keep coming home more miserable than when I left. The whole point of a vacation was to reboot and relax right?
One thing my mom was and is still big on was cleaning the house before she left for a trip. Her key phrase “Nobody likes coming home to a dirty house” stuck with me. So I started there. Whenever I would go away from the house - be it a weekend, or a longer vacation, I started tidying things up a bit. Garbage was out, laundry was as done as it could be (because I know we all have that towel or random shirt that just didn’t make it into the load). The dishes were done and when I felt like being a superhero, I would even clean out my fridge to make sure I didn’t come home to any science experiments and that I had food to eat when I arrived back, especially after a really late flight home.
I really suggest this if you aren’t already working this in. It doesn’t have to be a full-on top to bottom house cleaning. Just something that leaves your space welcoming to come back to. Bonus, there's usually more room to set souvenirs and your suitcase full of dirty laundry. I also live with anxiety, so this process really helped calm me down before I left. I knew everything was taken care of and that there was less possibility of unwelcome surprises when I arrived back home. I’ve had the rare occasion of having to deep clean something at midnight on a Sunday before work, exhausted from a long flight and I like to minimize the probability of that happening. As I type I’m planning on clearing out the produce drawers tomorrow before my trip to Florida next week.
Intention to me isn’t just about the trip itself. It’s about the whole process of a vacation. The planning, the preparation and also allowing yourself the time to really enjoy the memories of the vacation once you return. As much as I love traveling, coming back to my home is just as special. It was a lot more lovely and relaxing once I stopped using vacations as a reason to just get out of the house and treating my home, whether it was my small apartment or my new house, as a place just as special and magical as the Disney parks I love so dearly.
Until next time, how do you create a space to welcome you back after being away?
Thinking about some of my first trips, the ones I paid for on my own, it feels like I went places just because I could. I took a trip to Walt Disney World because I had a job and the money to fund it. I drove to Boston to visit family and because I had the freedom of a license and a car of my own. I’m sure I went on plenty of other trips with friends; road trips, day trips and overnights as well. The worst part is, I barely remember any of them.
Disney trips tend to have a stronger memory bank for me. I had been with my family when I was seventeen, when the Disney magic worked on me for the first time. There are some fun memories of me commanding my family around the parks since I had read every guidebook available from the library prior to our trip. The why of this trip remains - our family had been through some tough times and Disney marked the end of them. It was also a first for all of us, and we all experienced that in different ways.
I look at the trips and travel I go on now. Sure, there are some I take just to get away for a day or two. But even then, there is a reason for the trip. The “why” is the break. I need time to myself, a break from reality, responsibility or both. The reason, or “why” for the trip tends to help me remember more. I get more out of the excursion, no matter how long I am traveling. Having a reason for travel also helps me be more mindful on the trip. How many times have you gone somewhere with the intention to relax and refresh, only to find yourself returning more tired than you left in the first place? Same here.
One of our most intentional trips was last January. Jake and I had some more time to ourselves after a rough year. We were overwhelmed from the pandemic, taking care of the boys, and buying and moving into a new home. It was eating at us! One of our friends recommended a weekend trip, just to get away and spend time together. No big plans, just to get away from the house and all responsibilities. It sounded like a great plan, so we booked a Quality Inn in Williams, Arizona and took off for the weekend.
I was surprised at how much there was to do there! It’s right on Route 66, and there are tons of shops and restaurants along the road. Believe me, I wanted to do it all. Then I remembered the “why”. My intention was to spend time with Jake, reconnect and relax.
Let me preface; this year I have changed to become a morning person with a morning routine. This trip was going to be difficult to not go-go-go, especially since it was our first actual vacation during this pandemic year. I forced myself to laze around in bed every morning. We would eventually get going and grab breakfast, walk around town and check out the little shops and then find somewhere to grab lunch. One morning we did get up early, because Jake wanted to take me to Bearizona, a drive through wildlife preserve. It was worth getting up early for that, especially to see wolves waking up and howling. I still love the video and sound of that. Then another night we spent a slow dinner at the Grand Canyon Brewery and Distillery.
This trip felt so different. We enjoyed our time together and didn’t rush around at all. Relaxing in the hotel was a priority, we took plenty of naps. The kind of nap that you don’t set an alarm for because there’s no huge reason to get up. We tried a few restaurants on a whim, but brought tons of snacks and drinks for the room. I ran outside at night a few times just because I was excited to experience temperatures below thirty degrees again. Jake even stopped alongside the road to let me go and play in the snow that had fallen. Something I had not done since I lived in New York - almost ten years ago!
So when you think about your next trip - be it a day trip or a weeklong excursion - think about why you are headed out. If you are going out to relax and rejuvenate, make sure it happens! By any means, try not to over-extend yourself. Vacation by definition is an ‘extended period of leisure and recreation’, not a reason to run yourself ragged. Find your “why”, your intention for the trip and let it guide you. Find places and even restaurants that support the reason for the trip, and especially don’t forget to enjoy and have fun!
Until next time, what is an intention you could set for your next vacation and how can you support that?