The Monday after vacation…an all-over-blah-waste-of-a-day, right? Not so, if you–like me–have learned the secrets of becoming an effective vacationer. I just spent the last week in a six bedroom beach house with 21 people in lovely Corolla, NC. Almost half of those people were between the ages of 5 and 17. By all reason I should be exhausted, at my wit’s end and in need of a vacation from my vacation. But with just enough determination, and the good fortune that my husband’s extended family gets along remarkably well, I feel rested, rejuvenated, and inspired to up the proverbial ante to make the dream of writing every day a reality.
Thus, I bring you:
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Vacationers
1. Plan to plan: If you want to experience a locale’s attractions, you have to plan for it or you’ll drive yourself nuts rushing around or regret not going at all.
2. Plan not to plan: A vacation isn’t a vacation if you don’t relax. We made sure our week included plenty of time for beaching and lounging (Read: reading and writing).
3. Come with a goal in mind: Mine wasn’t too specific–make the most of each day. That meant not stressing when plans didn’t work out, getting up early to make use of those precious morning hours, and fully engaging in the day’s activity. I can honestly say I have no regrets about how I spent my time.
4. Don’t act your age: I’m in my mid-twenties. Young enough to stay up late and “party hearty” without being judged for it, but old enough to start taking responsibility for what I put into (and therefore get out of) each day. Last week, I went to bed at the same earlier-than-normal time each night and got up at the same earlier-than-normal time each morning. Those early morning hours before the whole house stirred were spent running on the beach, watching the sunrise, visiting local coffee shops, reading books in the hammock, and writing. Why didn’t I think of this before?!
5. Keep up the routine: I got so much out of each day because I did (relatively) the same thing each day. I tried staying up late one night to watch a movie with the rest of the twenty-somethings in our group, but promptly passed out in the first half-hour. (is your jaw on the floor yet? this is so unlike me.)
6. Meld with the locals/lifers: In a place like Corolla, it’s hard to find any locals at all. The whole island is basically a tourist attraction. But there are a few who live close to the Currituck lighthouse or who run the museum at the historical Whalehead Club or who own the coffee shop down the street. Their stories were just as inspirational as watching the sun come up over the ocean or seeing wild horses graze on the dunes.
7. Take it home with you: Not the goofy embroidered visor, the sense of peace, normalcy, and balance you gain from practicing the first 6 habits. For me, balance came home with me in the form of a new sleeping/running/writing schedule that has me up at the same pre-dawn time every morning, uses my lunch hours effectively, and leaves plenty of room for the other loves in my life…like chocolate.