The Simple Winter Vacation

Vacations are vital.  They’re a break from the routine, the ins and outs of daily life.  Even if you’re lucky enough to be self-employed or an entrepreneur, sometimes you just need a break from yourself.

Tons of people try to escape winter by flying to sunny locales, trying to shock their brain into thinking that the cold season is over and escaping their Seasonal Affective Disorder in one fell swoop.  We see these people at work, they are so excited at the onset of their vacation, counting down the days.  They put all of their hopes to alleviate their stress on one short burst of non-work.  Then come to find out their extravagant vacations and all the logistics involved were more stressful than a regular week at work would have been and they’ve spent more than they make in a month to pay for it all.  They return and always seem to be amazed that they’re more drained than they were before they left and poorer besides.  It’s a vicious cycle.

My philosophy about winter vacations is the same as vacations at any other time in the year, make it about relaxation and really give yourself a break.  Keep it simple (duh).  What does that mean?  Let me break it down…

  1. Stick close to home.  This will keep your transportation costs low, which will always be one of the major, if not the largest portion of your vacation expenses.  The farther you go, the more planning you’ll have to do, the more money you’re going to blow, the more you’re going to feel “out of it” when you return.  You don’t have to go to Peru to feel like you’re having some down time, you just have to give yourself some down time.  There are plenty of worthwhile and interesting places you haven’t been within a two hour drive.  Check Airbnb.com and rent someones luxurious guest house for a weekend without having to drive across the country (plus you meet interesting neighbors this way).
  2. Get outside.  Sure, it’s winter and it’s colder than we’d all like it to be (especially this year and even in Tennessee), but we can all do with a good walk outside.  Part of what’s making us feel so cooped up and crazy with cabin fever is that we go from house to car to work and back and try to spend as little time between as possible.  We need wide open spaces and non-air conditioned air, even in winter.  Put those layers on, grab your mittens and take a walk; I’d recommend keeping up the normal outdoor routine you have in the warmer months, just dress warmer.  It’ll help you not feel so imprisoned and lessen your need to go halfway across the globe to feel like you’ve broken free.
  3. Stop trying to do so damned much.  Vacation planning always starts out with great intentions: to take a much needed break after the craziness of the holiday season and relax.  Then, as soon as people realize they’ll actually have some unencumbered freetime, they start filling it up with all the projects they never make time for during the rest of the year.  STOP IT.  You need a break, from everything, even your plans and good intentions.  Don’t give yourself a tasklist on your time off, just enjoy it.  You deserve it.
  4. Skip the gift shop.  You don’t need a plastic thingy made in another country to make a memory or keep one.  You just need a good experience, your brain does the rest.  If you really want a souvenir, then take a picture of everyone on your trip, get someone to take a picture of your whole group, no more leaving the photographer out of the scene.  We need everybody in this one, it’s going on the mantle.
  5. Give yourself a little buffer time.  Meaning, don’t plan your vacation to have you getting home at 11:45 on Sunday night when you have to be at work at 7:00 on Monday morning.  You almost always need a day to realign yourself with your normal routine and life; this means giving yourself a day to take it easy after your away from home vacation.  And don’t rush out the door on Monday either.  Lay out your wardrobe, pack your lunch, get up 20 minutes early and enjoy a cup of coffee before you head into traffic.  But you should be doing this anyway.  It helps.
That’s my Simple Winter Vacation recipe.  I just got back from a few days in a cabin at a state park an hour and a half away with a special someone and loved it.  I feel refreshed and ready to keep rocking it out until my next break: The Simple Spring Vacation.  Oh yeah, we need more than one a year.  
How are you letting simplicity enter into your winter break?

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