Vacations can help you heal by allowing you to reflect, relax, reassess
and restructure. But the challenge is to make sure that your wonderful
vacation does not become a nightmare. Here are some practical and inspirational
tips that can help make your vacation a healthy and healing experience:
- Be self-ish – Too many women allow themselves to be guilt-tripped into a lifetime of planning vacations for others: Disneyland for the kids. The fishing trip to keep him happy. Or the obligatory 200-mile side trip to see Aunt Tillie in the rest home, even though she won’t know you were there. This time, give yourself permission to have the vacation you want. Do you see yourself wrapped in a fluffy towel, with cucumber slices on your eyelids, enjoying the spa vacation of a lifetime? Maybe your idea of heaven is a romantic sunrise in Taos or Sedona. Then again, you may dream of lunching at Maxim’s in Paris. Do you want Broadway shows or quiet nights in a cabin? Just once in my life, this time I want to _____________(you fill in the blank).
- Don’t let others spoil the show – Are you sure you want your husband/sister/mother/best friend along? Do they really share your dreams – and your lifestyle (toothpaste cap on or off, window open or shut)? Sometimes we learn the most about ourselves when we see ourselves reflected in strangers’ eyes. Or read Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea and plan a trip to the shore alone, a true rarity in our busy lives today.
- Make a list and check it twice – Use your Palm Pilot, your Filofax or carry a small notebook to jot down all the things you need to remember to make your vacation trouble free. Check the list often and make sure you leave time to tick off all the items before you go.
- Allow yourself the luxury of time – Before you say, “Give me the early flight,” remember that the extra security precautions at airports today can require getting there two hours early. Keeping stress to a minimum means allowing extra time for that traffic tie-up or side trip to the ATM, so plan your itinerary carefully so that you don’t find yourself getting up at 3 a.m.. Whenever possible, leave yourself an extra day before going back to work. Remember that carrying the good habits built up on your healing vacation will benefit from transitioning back into “normal” life without undoing all that you have gained.
- Carry your cocoon with you – While the point of a vacation is to have new experiences, bringing along a favorite pillow, a pair of comfortable shoes and something familiar and warm to wear on chilly nights will add to your pleasure. Check the Travel Checklist below that can help to make sure that you don’t leave something important behind.
- Avoid an oops – No need to be paranoid or obsessive, but some simple precautions can help you avoid a disaster, on vacation and back at home while you are gone. Travel stores sell nifty and affordable see-through pouches you can wear around your neck to carry tickets and a picture ID and moneybelts to carry your funds. Two friends, on separate trips to Paris, had their wallets stolen on the Metro last year — imagine the hassle of trying to board your return flight without your driver’s license. The pouches also save you from having to fish for your wallet each time someone wants to see your ID. You can also spare yourself grief by developing a last-minute checklist to use just before you leave home – iron off, alarm system on, etc.. You don’t want to be halfway to Bali wondering whether you left the back door unlocked. You can also create a list of important phone numbers and directions for your housesitter (furnace repair, how to deal with the sticky lock on the basement door, what to do if the dog gets sick). Over the years, I have refined mine to the point where I can quickly scan housesit.doc for any needed updates, add my itinerary and then print out five copies on colored paper: one for me, one for the housesitter, one for Sis (just in case) and a spare on the dining room table (a just in case for the housesitter).
- Budget for unexpected fun – After you determine your vacation budget, add at least 10% to the total as “mad money,” so that you don’t feel guilty when the trip ends up costing more than you initially planned. That way, you will have guilt-free funds for the facial, manicure and pedicure, or the side trip to the concert or play you didn’t know was in town. While the goal is not to come back to face economic ruin, will that extra few dollars in the bank really matter in the long run?
- Leave your body worries at home – Don’t spoil your vacation by setting unrealistic goals or and denying yourself the chance to have fun. I won’t even pack the swimsuit – I don’t want anyone to see my thighs. I’m going to get up every day and run 10 miles and live on a handful of berries. A vacation can be a great way to launch a fitness program. But remember that research confirms that the handful of people who succeed at dieting and keeping the weight off do not go through life without ever eating a cookie or ice cream again. The challenge is to get back onto the diet and exercise program when you slip (and you will). It means structuring opportunities for the things you like, in moderation (one cookie, not the whole box). It also means increasing your exercise. Take a walk in the morning to start the day. Walk to the museum instead of taking a taxi. And don’t beat yourself up if you falter.
- Consider a volunteer vacation – When life loses its meaning, the best solution can be to give it away, to donate your time to projects that help others. Like a mini-Peace Corps, you can donate your services to others, whether that means working for Habitat for Humanity building homes for the homeless or using your specific talents to provide aid. You can click here to explore some options. · Make your own memories – There is a balance between spending all your time looking at sights through a camera and returning home without images that remind you of the wonderful time that you had. You can always bring back postcards or commercial slides, but it will be the pictures of people that evoke the most meaning. At least buy a map or even a cheap trinket. Concrete objects often help us conjure up the memories that matter most.
- Do you have your passport, birth certificate and vaccination
- Airline/train tickets
- Driver’s license or picture ID
- Money, traveler’s checks, credit cards
- Money belt or other security device
- Travel alarm
- Palm Pilot
- Emergency telephone numbers back home
- Medical information including any drug reactions or special
- MEDICAL SUPPLIES
- Prescription and over-the counter drugs
- Allergies, asthma or cold/flu medications?
- Aspirin or other painkillers
- First-Aid kit with bandaids, antiseptic
- Spare eyeglasses (with copy of prescription and repair kit)
– same for hearing aid
- FACE & BODY
- Creams, moisturizers, astringents
- Cosmetics (foundation, lipstick, mascara, eyebrow brush, etc.)
- Perfume, cologne
- Razor/shaving cream
- Any special soaps or cleaning agents
- Allergic to poison ivy or poison oak? Bring Technu Wash, Calamine
or prescription medication if there is any chance of exposure
- Insect repellent
- Tissues, cotton balls, Q-Tips
- Toothpaste/tooth whiteners
- Dental appliances
- Cold-sore medication
- Toothache medication for emergencies
- Shampoo, conditioner
- Hair dye
- Shower cap
- Hair dryer
- Curling iron/curlers
- Travel iron
- Mending kit
- Shoe shine
- Night clothes
- Stockings & socks
- For warmth:
- Coat or jacket for warmth
- Hats, gloves, scarves
- Bedtime socks or slippers
- Necklace, earrings, rings, bracelets
- Compact disc, MP3, cassette player
- Cards, games
- CRITTER COMFORTS
- Don’t forget at least one pair of comfortable shoes (and socks)
- A neck pillow or nighttime pillow
- Favorite snack
*Save the plastic wrap from your dry cleaning (or use garbage bags)
to protect and keep your clothes wrinkle-free.